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NCIS Showrunner Scoop: Moving on from Ziva, Wrapping Up Parsa & More

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NCIS Season 11 has been one of change, new directions and new faces.

And it could’ve all crashed and burned like a conspirator’s bomb.

Instead, the show has recovered well from the departure of Cote de Pablo’s Ziva and the impact that development had on core relationship of Ziva and Tony.

The addition of Emily Wickersham as Ellie Bishop has been a positiv thing mostly because she’s not so much as a replacement for Ziva as she is a new, interesting character for the NCIS team and the series itself. Bravo!

At the Television Critics Association press tour yesterday, I sat down with showrunner Gary Glasberg to talk over where we’re at in this season and where we’re heading, including why he and Mark Harmon may soon be spending time in New Orleans..

The Stolen Drone

TV Fanatic: You guys have gone over this big hurdle with Ziva gone and it seems to be working really well.

Gary Glasberg: It's kind of great. I'm fascinated by...Season 11 should be like you come in and put it on auto-pilot and it's been anything but that. So to be hit with what we started with, which was Ziva's departure, and then all the effort that went into finding Emily and creating Bishop…

I think that overall the response has been fantastic. There'll always be a group of people who continue to really hold on, and I appreciate how connected they are to Ziva but I don't think I could have asked for this transition to work any better, honestly.

TVF: The fact that you’re still bringing up Ziva's name, how do you navigate when to stop doing that or when you don't need to do it as much? Is there a gauge for that at all?

GG: I feel like, internally, we all feel like it's necessary to move on. We recognize in life that people might comment or look back or say, ‘Ziva would have done this,’ or ‘Ziva would have done that.’ Is there an opportunity to do that? Yeah, once in a while. But I also feel like it's a little bit of a mine field in that every time you revisit a character like that, it brings your existing cast back, and they're not allowed to grow, and so it's important for all of them to move on in a lot of ways.

There's an interesting dynamic, a brother-sister sort of dynamic that's there between Tony and Bishop. You know, the connection between Bishop and Gibbs, I think, is different than anything that he had with Ziva. We're pleased with it. And off-camera, too, the chemistry and the support that Harmon and Weatherly and Pauley and the rest of the team have offered to Emily has been fantastic. And we'll experiment and find things and continue to figure out who she is.

TVF: Will we get more personal stories with her and get to know her life outside of work?

GG: No, it'll get there. We know that she's married. We know that she's from Oklahoma. I'd love to meet her parents at some point, or a parent. We know that she's got a large family, a bunch of brothers. I'd love to meet them. I know that the husband, who's also at the NSA, is a big part of who she is, and we'll certainly touch on that at some point, but the beauty of NCIS is sort of doling it out in little bits and pieces and touching on it and then walking away from it for a while and coming back, so we'll get there.

TVF: In regards to this week’s episode, our review brought up whether Tony flirting with Martinez was too soon, not because of Ziva but because of McGee's story. Thoughts?

GG: It's such a tightrope, and everyone responds to Tony differently. At some point, we have to let Tony be Tony. And part of his defense mechanism is flirtation. And so wherever he is psychologically, to look at a woman or comment to a woman or spend time with a woman may not be what you're interpreting on the surface. There's usually something else going on with him, it's just the nature of who he is.

TVF: Is there more of Martinez coming?

GG: Right now, we don't have anything written, but I think the consensus was that she was fun. So if the opportunity comes up and we can make a connection through a case, then I'd be happy to have her come back.

TVF: The whole Parsa story, that arc, is that going to be with us for a while or is that just kind of a contained arc?

GG: After [NCIS Season 11 Episode 13], there's one more, and then it wraps itself up in a really significant, cool way and I'm about to go into the editing room and start working on that. I'm pleased with it. It was a fun sort of villain to launch at the beginning of the season. It's not going to carry all the way through to the end, but we'll certainly tie it up in a way that I think people will be satisfied with.

TVF: Will repercussions from the end of that arc, will we see that, moving forward? Does it have any kind of big impact?

GG: It absolutely affects Gibbs. It affects Bishop in a huge way. And of course, the repercussions of what happened between McGee and Delilah will continue further into the season.

TVF: What can you tell me about where we’re heading with Delilah and McGee and how her recovery will impact their relationship?

GG: Adding this to any relationship is a tremendous amount of weight on both of their shoulders. She has to figure out what her life is going to be like. He now has a relationship with someone who's been through something tragic and is dealing with changes and who they are and how they're going to move forward. I think it's real and I think that they'll come at issues and problems as they surface. I'm excited about it. I feel like it's not something that you see on television very often. To have a disabled character will be unique for us, it will be a challenge but I think all the writers are willing to rise to the occasion and give it a shot.

TVF: I know she's very busy, but Susanna Thompson, any more with her? She has such a nice chemistry with Mark.

GG: That worked out well, didn't it? I'd love to have her come back. You know, it was funny. It had been so long. And we approached her, and I think she was a little hesitant, just wondering what it was that we were planning. And then when she saw the script and how we wanted to use her, she came and played and was excited, and it went great. She told us she had a fantastic time. So I think it would be fun to have her back again, but we'll have to see when and where…I was very lucky in that because of the relationship between CBS and the CW, we were able to figure something out. But scheduling-wise, she would go shoot up there for a few days and then she'd come back to us. It was a little bit of a juggle.

TVF: I know over the years Gibbs has had different romantic things, whether it's Jamie Lee Curtis or other people. Will Gibbs have any romance the rest of this season?

GG: This season, because of all of the change and the adjustment and the things that were being introduced, we didn't feel like this was a season to sort of get him involved with someone, but it's always a fun story arc, and Mark's always game. It'll happen again.

TVF: Where are you and Mark with the spin-off?

GG: I've written two episodes that will air sometime the end of March. Both scripts are written. I'm really excited about it. The characters are rich and fun and different, and it mixes the Washington with this New Orleans world in what I hope is a unique and different way. We haven't cast yet. We're just starting the process. There's a lot of work to do. I'm going to go down there next week for a day or two. It's all just beginning and ramping up, and people seem to be enthusiastic, and hopefully, we'll come up with something good.

TVF: Can we expect all of our NCIS people to be in those episodes, or do you think you'll give some of them a breather just because there will be new people coming in?

GG: The way that the scripts are structured, they don't all go [to New Orleans], but they are all in the episodes. So there's business going on in DC and then there's business going on back there, and there's a lot of inter-cutting that happens.

TVF: What does the rest of the season hold, including the 250th episode. Any guest stars to talk about?

GG: We're in prep on the big DiNozzo senior 250th episode, so we're excited about that. After that, I don't think I have anybody really, guest-wise, lined up yet, but I know I've got some roles coming up that should be fun. And then also, the writing staff and I are about to sit down and start arcing out the final four episodes of the season.

So yeah, it's a bit of a roller coaster ride from this point forward because I've got an episode that starts prepping Monday, and then right after that, we start prepping New Orleans. So there's all the work that goes along with that. And then I come back from those two episodes, and then I think we have one or two episodes, and then we'll launch right into our final arc. So it's going to be an interesting run.

TVF: For the 250th, do you approach it as more of an homage to the 250 episodes or do you think of it as a way to kind of shift gears a little bit for whatever's coming next?

GG: When we did Man Walks Into a Bar, that was really an homage and that was something we understood could be different and should be different. This is really just a really sort of a fun, traditional episode of the show. It's a milestone. It's a fantastic milestone. We're happy with how things are going and want to keep it going. We figured bringing back Mr. Wagner was a fun nod to things, and he actually did the 150th. So yeah. So we figured, well, this is a good time to do it.

NCIS Season 11 airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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I still would like to know why Ziva left the show.
Was she asked to leave Nabson

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I have watched and loved NCIS from the beginning, I was saddened that Ziva left but I was prepared to give the replacement a chance. On the last NCIS that I saw that was from this season I realized it wasn't just Ziva, there is no chemistry at all between the cast members and the writing stinks. I can watch another program if I want boredom. Unless something drastic happens NCIS will be history. I think a majority of the fans were like me, giving the new season a chance. I cancelled my preset DVR series for the new season. I will continue to watch the old reruns, NCIS was exciting than, it's not exciting any longer, only boring. So sad.

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Apparently Mr. Glasberg has selective reading. posts on the shows website has more fans not liking the Bishop character than those who do anxmany have stated they want her gone and have stopped watching thr show. As for last weeks ratings clever promos led viewers to think she was going. I was in the business and know how leading promos work. As for me Dukes of Hazzard reruns on CMTare now my choice. Being stupid and not admitting a mistake could very well mean the end of NCIS. Your target demo numbrrs are too irratic.

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@ sallie

I agree.

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TONY CHANGED BECAUSE OF ZIVA--DO YOU NOT SEE IT--HE STARTED HIS I WILL LIST ON HIS WAY HOME AFTER TRYING TO GET ZIVA TO COME BACK--IT WAS ZIVA THAT MADE HIM SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY --YOU PEOPLE MUST BE WATCHING A DIFFERENT SHOW--IF YOU COULDNT STAND ZIVA WHY DID YOU WATCH IT THEN TO COMMENT ON HER AS A NCIS AGENT--GET REAL A LOT OF YOU GUYS ON THIS SITE ARE SUCH BABIES GROW UP ALREADY--BISHOP IS DIFFERENT, THATS WHAT THEY WANTED--YOU ALL WOULDNT WANT ANOTHER ZIVA NOW WOULD YOU YOU BASHERS--ENOUGH ALREADY SHES GONEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. MIC

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MIKE--how do you feel that tony would be zivas slave boy,they were partners they were teamates, they were very close friends always being there for one another,ziva is gone let it go already watch all of the seasons esp from sea 3 when ziva came into the show & pay attention your another person that is a ziva basher. there are several people on this site that pehaps need to slap them selves in the back of the head......mic

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MILLER--ziva never over shadowed the show--jenny had her story lines--the arms dealer--vance the eli david way before his wife got killed & vance even said it not without blood shed- when he was around-gibbs going back a whole lot about his wife & daughter--ducky & his mother--abby & her childhood----pehaps you should watch ncis from when ziva started. & pay attention tony with his father issues how many times did we see that. get over your comments about ziva--bishop is the same way ziva was when she came in a know it all,you just are head stuck , mic

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PAT--YOU SAID IT RIGHT ON---ALTHOUGH TONY CHANGING AS I HAVE SAID IS THE I WILL LIST HE SAW FOR HIMSELF AFTER HIS TALK WITH ZIVA THAT HE DID NEED TO BE A BETTER IN THE WAY HE TREATED PEOPLE --MCGEE FOR 1--HES A GREAT ACTOR & I THINK THEY HAVE TO AJUST WITH OUT ZIVA BUT CANT MENTION IT ON THE SERIES--I CAN BET ON THAT.PERHAPS THE BOYS MISS HER BUT CANT TALK ABOUT IT?THE SHOW HAS CHANGED BUT IT HAD TOO DIDNT IT THEY HAD TO FILL HER SPOT--ALTHOUGH I THINK THEY SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN SOMEON E OLDER OR PERHAPS ANOTHER NCIS AGENT,,,,,MIC

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and you people you z- not caring shes gone,its ok for her to move on perhaps she got sick of playing the role of ziva , and who the hell do you think got tony to start changing it was ziva her i will list when tony got on the plane what was the first thing he did start an i will list--why do you think he changed ziva did tell tony in many epi--that he needed to treat people better, she didnt want to kill any more she wanted to leave it behind she wanted to get her head in a better place--the way she was raised want an excuse it was true --she knew it. thats not who she wanted to be--tony had no choice but to leave her in her country --she was leaving the show. no one can ever say that he didnt love ziva-he didnt care if she bagged groceries mic

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to all you still being ziva haters-who started the tiva? it was tony & it was from the first day ziva walked into the bullpen,he jaw dropped. no matter what she was -& she was a wise ass--it took her a while to get adjusted,give it up already & you folks that keep saying you miss ziva whole lot of us do but by saying we miss her & bring her back is giving the ziva haters on this site to make thier nasty comments-to each his own,feelings dont go away that quickly people loved her as i did because of her acting she was great playing the role of ziva david,oh & i saw at a funtion on something michael weatherly & his lovely wife,being interviewed actually it was just michael talking--& he said he missed cote & really hopes she comes back,he agreed with the chemistry with one another & said it in fron t of his wife--no problem with being honest & admitting his feelings --i think he just may feel the show is not the same either, tjhis was on jan 28th so im happy just to hear that someone misses her & working with her mic

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hi celestrial moon,---you are probably one person who sees things in the real light,i agree--although i dont know how they could write her back into the show if she decided to come back in which i doubt very much,if i were her i wouldnt come back, but if she does she would have to like what would be written for her,she did not want to be ziva the mozzad any more she wanted to change, so what will she change too? she gave us the best & a great role of ziva david & those of you who werent fans of her--your opinions are just not looked at in a mature way,get real will all of you ziva haters mic

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