Rule No. 8: “Never take anything for granted.”
CBS’ NCIS takes that to heart tonight at 8/7c, with a Christmas episode that reflects on one of the long-running drama’s recurring themes: Gibbs’ Rules.
“I wanted for a while to do an episode about Gibbs’ rules,” showrunner Gary Glasberg tells TVLine, “and Chris Waild, one of my writer-producers, had the clever idea of incorporating it into our Christmas show.”
The framing device, per Glasberg: “McGee (played by Sean Murray) is writing a letter to his father, sitting at the great, old typewriter that he writes his books on, sort of narrating” his account of a case the team worked during the holidays, involving hackers.
“It’s a really timely case,” given the myriad Sony Hack documents continuously being released into the real world, Glasberg notes. “And it brings back a number of characters” — Former NCIS Systems Administrator Kevin Hussein (played by Ethan Rains), Heidi Partridge (Erin Allin O’Reilly) and Ajay Khan (Chuck‘s Vik Sahay) — “who are computer-focused villains of the past,” to help tackle the crisis.
As McGee shares with his father the assorted rules, many are punctuated by accompanying flashbacks of characters both present and past receiving or recounting Gibbs’ wisdom. “We used stuff all the way back to Season 2, I think,” Glasberg says. “It’s amazing to go back and collect all these different clips, of everybody from Sasha [Alexander, as Special Agent Kate Todd] to Cote [de Pablo, as Ziva] to Michael [Weatherly, who plays DiNozzo] referring to the rules.
Such blasts from the past coupled with McGee’s heartfelt missive to his father made for “a really emotional, terrific episode,” Glasberg adds. “It’s like a little Christmas present for everybody.”
On Tuesday’s holiday episode of NCIS, McGee (Sean Murray) takes a trip down memory lane as he pens a heartfelt letter to his father, whom he’s preparing to visit for the holidays.
“McGee is kind of reflecting on the past and on the rules that Gibbs has tried to instill in the team over the years, and questioning some of those rules and just thinking back,” Murray tells TVGuide.com. “He’s going to spend the holiday with … his dad, and that’s something that he doesn’t frequently do. They have a strained relationship. He’s sort of estranged from his father, and part of him writing that letter, I think, is him getting out a lot of stuff he can’t necessarily say.”
The episode also calls back to the season premiere, as McGee takes the lead on a cyber terrorism case, and the team recruits previously seen villains to help them solve the case in the week before Christmas.
As part of McGee’s nostalgia-fest, viewers will be treated to a host of flashbacks featuring current and former characters — including, yes, Ziva David (Cote de Pablo). “It’s an episode that really, I think, is kind of a reward to longtime fans,” Murray says.
NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
Is NCIS‘ Tony going to be in a stable relationship this season? –sshenoy
You mean with, perhaps, ATF Agent Zoe Keates? I can confirm that Marisol Nichols has been booked for an early 2015 encore, while Emily Wickersham recently acknowledged to me that Tony and Zoe had “really great chemistry.” She added, “Tony’s love life definitely unfolds. I can say that.”
Are NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans on hiatus at the moment? If so, when do they recommence? –Sharon
Au contraire, Share! NCIS, NCIS: NOLA and NCIS: LA all have Christmas episodes to put under your tree (or menorah, where applicable) this coming week. Then they go on break, returning the week of Jan. 4, 2015.
What have you got about my sexy man Tony on NCIS? — Marla, via Twitter
You definitely haven’t seen the last of Keats, Tony’s former partner with whom some sparks flew recently. “That connection…will come up again at some point,” executive producer Gary Glasberg tells us. “It was a tough year for Tony DiNozzo last year. We’re going to continue down the road of getting back to what we call the old Tony DiNozzo — [seeing him] spreading his wings a little bit and enjoying himself.” But not all the character’s exploration will come through love interests. Glasberg teases that Robert Wagner will return as Tony Sr. in a winter episode that offers “more insight into Tony DiNozzo when he was younger.”
Question: Any intel on NCIS? —Marsha
Ausiello: The Dec. 16 holiday episode (which also doubles as the fall finale) marks the return of three notorious cyber terrorists: Former Systems Administrator Kevin Hussein (played by Ethan Rains), Heidi Partridge (Erin Allin O’Reilly) and Lester Patel Ajay Khan (Vik Sahay). In the wake of a city-wide Internet blackout the week before Christmas, the NCIS team pulls the trio out of prison to help with the case, and, whaddaya know, I’ve got an exclusive first look at their comeback below!
On Tuesday’s episode of NCIS (8/7c, CBS), Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and the rest of the team are trying to exonerate a former Navy Hospital Corpsman (guest star Laura Seay) who’s indicted after illegally providing medical aid to the victims of a car crash.
While Good Samaritan laws are in place to protect bystanders who offer aid at the scene of an accident, the legalities become blurry when military personnel are involved. “The idea that you can have this extraordinary training in the field, and yet for whatever reason, that training doesn’t legally and officially transfer back to working in the public in the United States, was interesting to us,” NCIS showrunner Gary Glasberg told TVGuide.com. “I don’t entirely understand the reasoning behind it. But at the end of the day, we all agreed that it’s worth bringing up, and it was the kind of thing that Gibbs would question and … want to do everything he could to help her.”
Adds Seay: “The way that the laws are written, it doesn’t seem to make room for this particular type scenario and even more specifically, people coming from a military medical background. It seems like when you’re in the military, you’re also sort of agreeing to adhere to a whole separate set of legislative things, almost as if you’re going to another country. And when you come out of that country, it’s interesting the way that our judicial system doesn’t really line up or make way for those unusual circumstances and training.”
Producers paired Seay up with a real corpsman to advise on how to approach her character, Anna Dillon, and the issue at large. “Marines, period, but especially corpsmen — because they’re the medics that work with the Marines on the frontlines —hold themselves to a really, really, really high standard. Excellence is key,” Seay says. “After this travesty has happened, even though [Anna] saved two lives, she can’t really get the third one out of her head. … I think that’s actually more what she’s haggling with, at least in the first part of the episode, than any sort of legal aspect of it. And I think Gibbs can see that, and he’s trying to help her contend with both parts — one that’s dealing with it ethically, and the other that, oh yeah, there’s this legal thing too that I guess I’m a part of.”
Of course, the accident isn’t entirely what it seems to be at first, and the team also finds itself immersed in a murder investigation before the episode concludes. But for Glasberg, it was important to shed light on an issue that many are unaware of.
“Coming off the heels of Veterans Day, it’s an important episode for people to watch, and some really lovely performances on everyone’s part, including Laura,” he says. “I hope it opens some eyes and people enjoy it.”
NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
You’re trained to save lives in war, but when you try to do the same outside the battle ground, you’re persecuted.
That’s essentially the story of NCIS Season 12 Episode 8, which will find Anna Dillon being brought to the attention of our team as she’s detained after helping save the lives of some car crash victims.
However, while Anna is trained in service, she is not licensed to do the same in the real world. Leroy Gibbs to the rescue!
Tonight’s episode is sure to get people talking about what is right and wrong in the laws – but it also features some fine performances by Mark Harmon and guest star Laura Seay. Fans will also be treated to a lighter story involving Abby’s dating life, as the team is concerned about her pattern of dating men.
To get more insight into the installment, I talked with Seay and showrunner Gary Glasberg. Read on for excerpts from our exclusive Q&A…
TV Fanatic: Where did the story come from for this episode?
Gary Glasberg: This was a storyline that came up and was actually written by two of my writers assistants. Scott and Matt Jarrett. It’s their writing television debut and they came to us with a terrific idea, something that we weren’t even aware of. The fact that you can train to be a Navy corpsman but that training doesn’t legally transfer back into the public world back on US soil was of interest to us. We thought that it was the kind of thing that Gibbs would connect with.
TVF: Why was this something that Gibbs responded to so strongly?
GG: I think at the end of the day Gibbs recognizes that there’s a loop hole in the system and this is a woman who dedicated her life to helping people and threw herself into some very dangerous situations and is very qualified at what she does yet she’s persecuted for trying to save lives. We lucked out in finding Laura. Once in a while you open up your casting and people come in and audition. I hadn’t heard of Laura before but there’s a comfort level, there’s a natural ease to how she acts and who she is and she and Harmon hit it off. It just worked. To us, it just felt natural, organic and real.
TVF: I felt the same way and I was waiting for them to say ‘come join the team!’
GG: [laughs] When you find someone like that and everyone gets along as well as they do no set, it wouldn’t surprise me down the road if we find a reason to have her back or maybe we’ll arrive at a crime scene and there’s an EMT and it’s her! We’ll have to see…
TVF: We get a piece of Abby’s personal life with her dating Burt and we also touch on her past dating McGee but why was this the right time to have that be a part of this episode?
GG: The Burt storyline is something that people seem to like and he’s fun to have around and we’ll keep that runner going. But realistically and understandably we couldn’t do it without McGree look out for Abby in a big brother kind of way. It was fun to write those scenes and to have Bishop be the outsider who wasn’t aware of the fact that Abby and McGee had a relationship years ago. It’s a recap for people and reestablish but I was pleased with it. I thought it turned out nicely.
TVF: What’s coming up? I know Jamie Bamber is showing up soon.
GG: We’ve been waiting a long time to meet Bishop’s husband and the Thanksgiving episode is just about finished and we’re polishing it up and we have this terrific mystery at a snowed in airport that has Tony and Bishop and her husband working with the rest of the team back in the office. It’s a fun, light holiday episode. Jamie and Emily have great chemistry together and we look forward to having him back and getting deeper into who they are as a couple and how being an NCIS agent as affected their relationship.
TVF: There’s a mention of Gibb’s father passing in tonight’s episode. Will we get more of that in the holiday episodes?
GG: I don’t think so. It’s the kind of thing that continues to come up but we want to make sure it’s always there, always present and his passing is still a part of what Gibbs is thinking about and dealing with. In classic NCIS fashion, you can touch on the subject and keep him around and understand that he was an important part of Gibbs’ life.
NCIS Season 12 Episode 8 Promo
Next, Laura Seay provided some insight into her character as well as working with Mark Harmon.
TV Fanatic: How did you approach stepping into this role of Anna Dillon?
Laura Shey: There were a lot of things about her that I related to personality wise so that felt like a good way in. She seems very rigid in her physicality because she’s had that training. I’m not going to compare growing up doing sports and being in the military but I was excited about this aspect of her having that as part of her personality and being very rooted physically.
I really related to her on an intellectual and a physical level and the fact that she was also very driven, I really admired that but when it got down to the moral aspect of it and how she’s contending with these really ethical issues…I can’t say that I’ve been in the such a heightened position as she was in this particular episode but personality wise, I did relate to her in a couple ways but in terms of her experiences that was something that took a little extra work.
Honestly, being paired with a real life corpsman that worked with the Marines, Mark Horowitz, one of the producers on the show, was able to facilitate that and that really helped me get in the experience of the character and hear his stories and hear what he’s been through.
TVF: The show says a lot about doing what’s right and what’s wrong with the laws. Did it make you think about that in the context of the show or in general?
LS: Yeah. As far as the issues, I was aware of it in more of a vague way and I knew there were certain laws about if you don’t have the training you shouldn’t attempt to move somebody for fear of paralization and there would be consequences in that way but in terms of the military and the laws of the military someone coming out of service who has a lot of training but it’s not held at the same standards as what the University programs for studying medicine.
I didn’t know how nuanced the issue actually is and how unnuanced the law for the issue actually is. The law doesn’t seem to be written for people in Anna’s situation. She has extensive medical training in the military but for whatever reason she’s not licensed as an EMT to practice in the US. So it’s a very unnuanced law for a very nuanced issue. That’s what I came away with.
TVF: How was working with Mark Harmon? Anna has a really nice connection with Gibbs.
LS: Yeah, he made that real easy. He’s incredibly friendly and he’s also very authentic and sincere. From day one of shooting he made me feel like I’d been on the show a lot longer. It’s hard to be going on as a guest star to a show with people who have been working together for twelve seasons. It’s like where do I sit at the lunch table kind of feeling! He really alleviates that immediately and right away he was taking me under his wing and wanted to get to know me and where I was from. The majority of my scenes are with him just talking so that helped make it a lot easier. It was like there was a shorthand between us, which was great.
TVF: Let’s say they ask you to come back for another episode. Is that something you’re open to?
LS: Yeah! I would absolutely love that. Besides Mark, everyone in the cast was really exceptional and lovely even just the eight days I was shooting and that goes for everyone on the production crew. It was a really fun experience.
NCIS Season 12 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.