Twenty million viewers can’t be wrong, so CBS has awarded TV’s highest rated drama, NCIS, with a renewal for seasons 14 and 15. Star and executive producer Mark Harmon also signed a separate two-year deal to stay with the show, says Variety.
Sadly, Michael Weatherly, who plays lovable Field Agent Tony DiNozzo, will be departing the series after this season. Co-star Pauley Perrette (Abby Sciuto) tweeted this photo, cluing fans in that DiNozzo’s dad, played by Robert Wagner, would also show up once more before season end.
— Pauley Perrette (@PauleyP) February 27, 2016
Weatherly is one of only four actors to have appeared in every episode of the series, along with Harmon, Perrette, and David McCallum (Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard).
Prior to the announcement of Weatherly’s departure TVLine scooped a casting announcement looking for a strong new female anchor for the show:
Tess, currently in her late 30s, is described as a quick-witted, sarcastic and shrewd agent. She is as tough as a bulldog but can be as sweet as a kitten. The agent can work a black-tie fundraiser filled with politicians as easily as a roadside diner filled with truck drivers.
Tess has been divorced three times because her husbands can’t seem to keep up with her. She loves a good martini and a rare bacon cheeseburger but thinks sex and sleep are overrated. She also acts as a mama bear and is readily available to lend a shoulder to her colleagues to lean on. But Tess can be really difficult when she’s angry. She doesn’t have any children.
It’s not clear yet whether this character will replace Weatherly or if two roles will be filled.
The Navy investigative drama is the second-longest running scripted show currently on TV, just four seasons behind Law & Order: SVU. It is the fifteenth longest airing show in scripted TV history, a list topped by The Simpsons (27 seasons, 588 episodes), Gunsmoke (20 seasons, 635 episodes), and Law & Order (20 seasons, 456 episodes). By the time this contract is up NCIS will tie for seventh place with CSI and ER, each of which also had 15 seasons.
Many viewers may not remember but NCIS started as a spinoff of another popular Navy show, JAG, which followed a team of attorneys in the Navy’s Judge Advocate General Office. That series, which ran for 10 years, focused on the judicial and legal side of military criminal justice, and made stars of David James Elliott (CGB, Scoundrels) and Catherine Bell (Army Wives, Good Witch). Creator Donald Bellisario was intrigued by the ground-level investigative work of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who functions as the Navy’s police force, and created NCIS as his next series.
NCIS snagged the top spot in ratings in 2009 and has held on, averaging a staggering 20.4 million viewers this season. In the spirit of all great TV it has spawned it’s own spinoffs, NCIS: New Orleans, and NCIS: Los Angeles.
Glen Geller, President of CBS Entertainment commented “It’s extraordinary that in its 13th season and with over 300 episodes to its credit, ‘NCIS’ continues to excel at such a high level on a global scale. It is testimony to an amazing cast, led on and off the screen by the exceptional Mark Harmon, for skillfully bringing this universally appealing team of heroes to life; and to Gary Glasberg and his writers for crafting compelling stories that feature ‘NCIS’s’ signature blend of mystery, quirk, drama and comedy every single week.”