Sign in or
NCIS Rides a Wave of Popularity 20/10/09
'NCIS' rides a wave of popularity
The quirky crime procedural keeps building on its loyal fan base and now its spinoff, 'NCIS: Los Angeles,' looks to be basking in the ratings love.
By Maria Elena Fernandez
October 20, 2009
"Back home, everybody likes him," said Boscarino, who has Hodgkin's lymphoma and whose big dream to visit the set was made possible by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "He's one of the most popular TV actors, for sure. This is more than I expected, to be honest. I didn't expect him to be like he is in the character. He's very funny."
Boscarino is one of millions around the globe who has helped make the special agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service household names in such far-off places as France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden. And it seems like the United States has finally, and officially, caught on by making the show -- and its new spinoff "NCIS: Los Angeles" -- among the top scripted shows in prime time. Its seasonal averages, especially for an aging show and a newcomer that air back-to-back on a Tuesday night, are eye-popping: "NCIS" boasts 21 million, while "NCIS: Los Angeles" claims a robust 18 million.
"There are psychics all over town going, 'Didn't see that coming! Hard to call,' " Weatherly joked in his trailer, while eating a slice of cold pizza. "But it's a great feeling. It's like those movies about the racehorse that's not supposed to be -- we weren't bred in some Kentucky barn of some billionaire who has Arabian stallions. We're just a plow horse. But we run fast! It's one of those stories."
To be sure, "NCIS," a spinoff of "JAG," has never been a dud. The Navy crimes procedural premiered in 2003 and finished in 26th place its first year with 11.8 million viewers. The audience grew steadily, ranking in the top 20 during seasons 3, 4, and 5 -- standing strong against the mighty "American Idol" -- until it pushed ahead to fifth place last season, encouraging CBS executives to launch a spinoff. That new series is way ahead of the pack, even surpassing the success of "The Mentalist" last season.
"There's a saying we have, 'There's no happiness in this business, just relief,' " said CBS President of Entertainment Nina Tassler. "Let's just say I was extremely relieved when the first week's numbers came in."
Chris O' Donnell, who costars in "NCIS: Los Angeles" with LL Cool J, said he was not surprised by the growth of the original series, which introduced his show in the last two episodes of last season.
"After we did those two episodes last year, people obviously saw me in it and I was overwhelmed all summer by all the people who kept coming up to me and saying, 'I love that show. It's the only show I never miss," he said. "We've been very fortunate benefactors of being in a time slot right behind them and also to be given the original framework of the original show."
But as loyal as the "NCIS" fan base has been, the older-skewing series has never been a water cooler show among TV critics. Its median age is 56.6, though this season the drama also boasts a 28% boost in 18-to-49-year-old viewers, due, in part, to the success of the series in syndication on USA. "NCIS" is winning its time slot and ranks ninth among shows in that advertiser-coveted demographic this season.
"I think they're definitely pulling in a younger audience now because I know 14-year-olds and 15-year-olds that watch it," said 21-year-old Jennifer Scott, of Clifton, N.J., who discovered the show on USA. "For me, the main thing is the dynamic between the team members. They have this bond that is unbreakable. They're always there for each other no matter if it's good, bad, happy or sad."
When the Mark Harmon-led series launched, many fans were struck by the lightness in tone for a crime procedural. Margaret Walsh, 45, who moderates a fan site of 6,000 members from her home in Australia, still remembers the exchange that grabbed her in the pilot: "NCIS: Is that anything like CSI?" "Only if you're dyslexic."
"We're a very strange little show," agrees Weatherly, referring to its blend of mystery, romance, action and humor. "There's a real '80s and even '70s throwback feeling. You get a kind of 'Barney Miller' feel with it. It's not quite so grim and static and monotone and dour as a lot of crime shows."
Weatherly has a lot to do with that -- he likes to improvise. The actor and "NCIS" co-creator Don Bellisario (who was forced out after the fourth season) battled for much of the first season over Weatherly's penchant for ad libbing until Bellisario found himself admitting that it worked for the character.
"In a scene like this, he's a dream because he's fast and everything he adds makes it better," said executive producer Steven D. Binder during the filming of the no-power scene in Abby's lab. "But in other scenes, where there's a lot of exposition and information that the audience needs to know, not so much. It's never boring, I can tell you that."
Executive producer Shane Brennan, who runs both "NCIS" shows, says he knows that humor is an element fans of the franchise expect, so if his actors can make scenes funnier, he encourages it. CBS sent Brennan milk and cookies this month when the network ordered a full season of the spinoff. Asked when he thinks CBS will ask for another spinoff, Brennan didn't miss a beat.
"What time is it?" he said.
Then he added: "Everything that is happening is remarkable but it's probably more remarkable to people who haven't watched the show. I'm just so pleased for the people who have spent the last six years telling their friends and neighbors, 'You gotta watch this show. You gotta watch this show.' And finally everyone is and they're in the position of being able to say, 'I told you so.' "
Latest page update: made by #1hotchfan
, Sep 8 2010, 12:31 AM EDT
(about this update
About This Update
Moved from: NCIS in the News
No content added or deleted.
- complete history)
More Info: links to this page
|Started By||Thread Subject||Replies||Last Post|
|zivarules!!||younger ncis fans||0||Jun 12 2010, 7:55 AM EDT by zivarules!!|
|cassierules||AWESOME NCIS ARTICLE IN THE LA TIMES||2||Oct 20 2009, 8:17 PM EDT by Sorgiña|
|sandbar17||Kudos to MargyW for the mention||4||Oct 20 2009, 3:50 PM EDT by MargyW|
Showing 3 of 3 threads for this page