‘NCIS’ Executive Producer Teases Fates of Two Major Characters

"NCIS": David McCallum (Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS)

How do you follow-up an explosion that had the potential to wipe out the entire NCIS staff? Track down the bomber. And that is just what the focus of the Season 10 premiere of “NCIS” (Tuesday, Sept. 25) is about, as well as dealing with the emotional fallout from the bombing — and Ducky’s (David McCallum) heart attack.

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“It is the tenth season of our show,” says executive producer Gary Glasberg in an exclusive interview with XfinityTV.com. “That alone is an accomplishment. Moving forward from season ten, I want to dive into these characters even more than we have in the last ten years. Part of that is seeing them when they are facing adversity, when they have been hurt and they are down, and watching them rise back up again.”

With that said, he adds that the theme for the season is fallen heroes. “That [theme], whether it is directly touched upon or indirectly, does sort of carry through in a lot of the storylines that we are doing.”

So what else can we expect in Season 10? Here is the scoop:

So many shows these days are actually killing off cast members, like “The Walking Dead,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” And, in fact, “NCIS” killed off Kate (Sasha Alexander) early on. Several of your characters are in jeopardy. Can you talk a little bit about your approach as to whether or not someone actually dies?
As you see in the season opener, we did something really daring by having this bomb go off. We could have gotten rid of anybody, but this is a cast that works brilliantly together and I am thrilled to have them right now. They are not going anywhere. When you make a decision like that, you have to put tremendous thought into it and you have to think very far ahead where you want stories to go, how you want people to interact, and that sort of thing. I would like to think you take things one step at a time, but it is walking on thin ice, especially on a show like this when the interaction between the characters is the whole show. It is a very delicate decision and requires some careful plotting.

Preview the New Season:

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Ducky suffered a heart attack in the finale. What do you have planned for him this season?
Ducky has a fantastic start this season. David McCallum has just been wonderful. He starts off getting knocked off his feet. Through the first four episodes, we watch him getting back up again. He questions everything from his own mortality to whether he can continue to work. There is a terrific episode that Steve Binder wrote called “Phoenix,” where he finds his mojo again. That is coming up earlier in the season. I am really pleased with this arc that we found for him. The heart attack at the end of last season carries through. It changes his perspective. It changes the way he looks at life. Any time you can do that and still maintain the integrity of the character, I think we were successful.

One of the things our readers want to know is what is ahead for Tony (Michael Weatherly) and Ziva (Cote de Pablo). I think the scene in the elevator in the premiere with them trapped together will make fans really happy.
That was a sequence I had planned for a while, and then Cote and Michael took it and ran. We had a lot of fun with those scenes. It actually sort of dictated some things that we would like to do as we move forward this season and actually scratch a little deeper into the Tony/Ziva relationship and have some more fun with it…dole it out little by little. But we are all for seeing where Tony and Ziva go next, how they interact and where their relationship is going.

Another thing our readers are asking about is McGee (Sean Murray) because he hasn’t been seen in the promos.
You know what? Everyone reacted to the promo we put out because we didn’t see him. I wish I could take credit for that. I am happy everyone is guessing. McGee has an interesting story. He is always there for us for any technological snafu. There is some really fun stuff that is coming up with him. We are going to touch on his personal life. It is no mistake that he talks to his grandmother and discusses his father. We will have to see later in the season where that goes.

Will love ever find Gibbs?
I don’t know. Gibbs is always in search of happiness and finding a connection with someone. Last season we had this terrific story with Jamie Lee Curtis. He finds solace in the oddest places and he is content being down in that basement. He is starting to build something else that will carry through all season. I would like to believe there is someone out there and he will keep searching and we will keep searching.

We all want to know how the boat got out of the basement!
I am never going to tell.

Mark Harmon is such a fan favorite. Does he have input into story or is he content to play whatever comes out of the writers room?
Mark is an executive producer on this show and I am very fortunate to have him as a partner. We talk about everything and discuss everything. I appreciate his willingness to go along with me and the crazy storylines I come up with and directions and surprises that I like to throw in. He is along for the ride 100 percent.

You joined “NCIS” in 2009, so you weren’t there at the beginning, but can you talk about why you think the show took off and is still a ratings behemoth despite its longevity?
It is unique in that respect. I wish that I could definitively explain it. There are people who in theory think that the exposure that we get on cable through USA brings a whole different audience back to CBS to watch the original shows. I just think that these are some entertaining characters that are put into interesting scenarios and fun and different storylines. At the end of the day, it is these characters who the fans are tuning in for. That is why they keep coming back. We have no shortage of stories to tell and we will keep on doing it and peeling back the layers of who these characters are as long as people want to watch.

What are your most memorable or favorite episodes or scenes?
There are so many. I really don’t have one. I live and breathe this show now, so to actually pick specific moments, it would be very tricky for me. Last season’s 200th episode was near and dear to my heart because I was able to look at these characters over the span of nine seasons and appreciate what they have gone through. I guess that was a special moment for me — having the opportunity to write that episode. I am just a fan at the end of the day of what [creator] Don Bellisario came up with and I am happy to keep it going.

When the day comes far in the future, do you know how you would like the series to end?
No. That is something that I am going to have to open a folding chair on a beach somewhere and stare out at the sunset and try to figure out what to do. But I don’t see that happening any time in the near future and I am happy to say that.

The tenth season premiere of “NCIS” airs Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 8/7c on CBS.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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