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Two Hundred Episodes In, "NCIS" Stars Investigate Its Enduring Popularity

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Two Hundred Episodes In, "NCIS" Stars Investigate Its Enduring Popularity

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VALENCIA, CA - JANUARY 03: (L-R) Actors Brian Dietzen, David McCallum, Pauley Perrette, Mark Harmon, Sean Murray (backrow)Cote de Pablo and Michael Weatherly pose at CBS' "NCIS" celebration of thier 200th episode on January 3, 2012 in Valencia, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

It’s not the most-buzzed-about show on TV, its stars aren’t staples of awards nominations or gossip magazines, and there aren’t an army of bloggers tracking every plot point. But nine years, one spinoff series and 200 hours into its run, “NCIS” is the number one show on television.

To mark the series landmark 200th episode – airing Feb. 7 – PopcornBiz learned just what the "NCIS" leading lights think make it such an enduringly popular TV staple.

Mark Harmon (Leroy Gibbs):

“It doesn't feel like 200 episodes, doesn't feel like nine years.  There are other things on this show more important than the size of your trailer, and it's always been about the work.  I've felt that we've always, from the beginning here, had control over nothing except what we did each day in the work, and I believe that remains the same. These writers continue to challenge us, and there's new things in these characters all the time. And you might play something for six years, and all of a sudden the seventh find out that something you've been playing was a little bit changed, but that's because these writers keep digging and the challenge is still there. We just did the 200th episode, and that was as challenging as any episode we've done.  For everybody – not just the actors, for the entire crew.”

Executive producer Gary Glassberg:

“When Don Bellasario created the show, there was a foundation that he started with, a brilliant foundation of story and character that was there. And over the years we just sort of kept scratching the surface of it. And to be nine years into a show now and still have so much to work with is a real comment on what Don came up with to begin with, I personally am very grateful for it.”

David McCallum (Dr. Ducky Mallard):

“I'm now a virtual pathologist, and I get accused by my family – they call me ‘Dr. Dave’ now. I have yards and yards of books on the subjects of death. And when we started this show, I didn't know anything about pathology and I didn't know anything about NCIS. I learned the commitments of excellence that all of those special agents have, and then we kind of brought that what we all do as a team.  But for me, I love this show because it gives me a chance to do what I was born to do in the best possible way. At the same time, I have had Craig Harvey, the coroner in Los Angeles, Craig Mallak, the chief pathologist of the army, and a whole host of people in the world of pathology that have helped me to understand what they do, how they do it, and I think they respect the fact that we do it as well as we do. But the learning process never stops, and Gary will come up within the next few weeks with something that I've seen in some body part that needs twisting and turning, and I will again learn all about this pathology.  And that's been the most exciting part of the whole show for me.”

Cote de Pablo (Ziva David):

“We never go through a scene without understanding it.  And if something is not working, we take our time and we make it work for us until it makes sense to us and we know the story that we're telling – which I think is important, for all of us to be on the same page…We take care of these relationships.  And if we have problems, issues, and this is very much like a family, we talk about it and we discuss it. It is like a family.  It doesn't mean that it's perfect all the time, much like a family dynamic.  We go through it and we work it out.”

Rocky Carroll (Leon Vance):

“There have been a lot of shows that have come and gone which featured technology.  What people really like are good stories. So regardless of the amount of information and knowledge and technology that maybe the fans have, if you're not telling good stories, you don't last for nine seasons.  People have liked good stories since the early days of man, and you can surround it with whatever you want, but if you're not telling a good story, it's not going to resonate.  And what this show does better than any other show, it infuses the technology and the stories with a great deal of character and with a great deal of humor and all the other human elements that you can't fake and you can't make up for.”

Brian Dietzen (Jimmy Palmer):

“I thought this show would get me off of jury duty and it didn't. Two years ago I explained what I did for a living and I said that I researched forensics and pathology and that sort of stuff as my job. And the judge said ‘We know what you do for a living and we watch the show, so…’ – basically saying that we're all as much of an expert as you are and, yeah, I served on the jury. He was totally guilty.”

Michael Weatherly (Tony DiNozzo):

“I get, in one episode, to do crazy physical humor, an interrogation scene, and kiss the girl and then have my pants fall down to my ankles and all of these things. I am constantly discovering new stuff on the set. And it's because the writers set up these fantastic scenarios that, try as I can, I can never get ahead of. And Mark knows: I'll come to his trailer and say, ‘I'm digging, man, but I don't know…’ And Mark is a fantastic leader in the way that he allows all of us and leads us to that freedom. Some shows, you know, you hit your mark and bark.  You show up, say your lines, wear the clothes, and reflect the light and don't make too much trouble.  And this is a show that's always growing and always searching.”

Pauley Perrette (Abby Sciuto):

“Part of what keeps it so alive and so fresh all the time is that we all love our show. That's such a big deal. And I love it when I tell the fans we're having so much fun, and they're like ‘Everyone can tell.’ That's huge, because just bringing a sense of not only gratefulness, but joy to your workplace every single day. It's not just us – it's also our crew. We have the best crew on the planet who have been together so long.  Everybody is excited when we come back from hiatus.  We're excited when we start our first day of the season. It's like the first day of school. We're excited to see new scripts. And part of that is not only do we love each other, but we're all huge fans of our own show.”

Mark Harmon:

“Certainly being No. 1 is a lot more fun than being somewhere else. But I don't think anybody here is confused about what it took to get here or what it will take to stay here.  And because of that, I think it's important to go to work on this show and to be gifted enough to work opposite everybody who's here and with everybody who's backstage right now still working and really, in some ways, give thanks to the opportunity that we have before us, because it's so rare and we know that.  We know that.  I'm not confused at all at what it took to do this and that we're still here and doing it well – and in some ways doing it better than we ever have before. I think you have to give credit to the people who have stayed there and done the work.”

 

The "NCIS" 200th episode airs Tuesday, February 7th at 8 PM ET on CBS

Related Topics ncis, mark harmon, cbs
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