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NCIS Season 12: A New Villain, A New Romance, A Trip to New Orleans

by at .  Updated at . Comments

Big things are coming on NCIS Season 12.

During the NCIS: New Orleans panel discussion at the TCA Summer Press Tour yesterday, executive producers Gary Glasberg, Jeffrey Lieber and Mark Harmon held court and spilled information.

To wit: there are already plans crossover the world of "the mothership" with the upcoming Big Easy-based spinoff.

“We’re currently planning an episode that’s coming out where Gibbs will make an appearance. There will be crossover between the two shows,” Glasberg confirmed. “We have a storyline where Michael Weatherly is involved, where Pauley Perrette is involved, David McCallum. That’s the fun of what we have here is having that interaction.”

Later that day at a CBS party in West Hollywood, I asked Glasberg about specifics regarding new episodes of NCIS. Consider yourself SPOILER WARNED and scroll down for interview excerpts...

Mark Harmon at TCAs

TV Fanatic: Where are we finding our gang at the start of the season?

Gary Glasberg: It’s really interesting. Last season was so tumultuous. To have Ziva exit, Bishop arrive, the introduction of the New Orleans episodes and then Ralph Waite’s passing, it was a lot. I couldn’t do a cliffhanger. It was just disrespectful. So I think by doing it the way we did, by sort of resetting over the hiatus and then coming out of the gate with a big story, which is what we’re doing, we’re exciting about it.

It’s really about focusing on the team and the family because I know that the fans really respond to that and then, of course, really peppering it with all kinds of great little tidbits along the way.

The first episode starts in Russia and brings Gibbs and McGee to Russia and then a crisis happens and we’re off and running. It sets up an adversary for them that will track through the whole season.

TVF: So we’ll have a big bad for the whole season?

GG: On and off a big bad!  An actor named Alex Veadov. He’s a lovely man and he plays a Russian mercenary named Sergei Michnev. Very excited about that. He’s a terrific actor and excited about the potential of where he can go and the potential to cross over into the New Orleans show, as well.

TVF: That sounds great. What else is coming?

GG: Episode 3 is a Ducky origins story, which we‘re going to find a young David McCallum and I’m very excited about that. Steve Binder is writing that and we’re going to learn things like why the bow tie and all kinds of stuff. It will be a lot of fun.

TVF: Will it be a light, fun episode? Or will there still be a darker case along with it?

GG: There will be a case that goes along through it, but it brings Ducky and Bishop back to England. So we’re very excited about that.

TVF: Any old faces from the past either villains or other people we haven’t seen in awhile?

GG: We’re talking about different people. We’ll have to see who gets cast and who we ultimately bring in. But everything from trying to cast the elusive, unknown ex-wife, the one we haven’t met. We’ll also keep the Delilah story alive with McGee. And Tony, in episode 4, is going to meet a woman. So we’ll start to layer that in.

TVF: With both shows going, are you going to sleep ever again?

GG: I tend to stay up late so I go to bed around 2 and [exec producer Jeffrey Lieber] gets up around 4 so there’s only about 2 hours of time where we need to hire someone from 2-4 [am].

NCIS Season 12 premieres at 8/7c on Tuesday, September 23, with NCIS: New Orleans debuting immediately afterward.

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

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Laura lafleur

I've been faithful to the show since Cote's departure, and some of the episodes have been ok. All in all, I have to honestly say the show has lost its edge. Bishop is great. It's not her fault.. The family unity has been disrupted in a way that cannot be repaired unless Ziva returns. Since that's not going to happen, I say let's make this the last season and go out on top. Just one fan's opinion.

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@ Laura LaFleur

BIshop is not great. She's not believable as an agent or a genius. She can't act or do action scenes. She doesn't belong on the show.

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@ bbicecream

In short 'Hail to the Cote disembowel a baby to make her return'

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@ Laura LaFleur

I'm glad Ziva is gone but agree that the show has lost its edge. They tried too hard to make us like Ellie and instead wrote her inconsistently and over exposed her. It's not her fault. Part of the dullness on the show is that it has become too Gibbs centric. Tony, who used to be an important character does next to nothing now while Gibbs hogs all the big hero moments and we get episode after episode revealing some secret from his past. Gibbs has no mysteries left that I care to see and yet, without a doubt, half of season 12 will be dedicated to bringing more Gibbs stories to light. Boring and waaaaaay overused plot device at this point. Would it kill them to give Tony a big multi episode arc? Apparently it would since he hasn't had one for 7 seasons not. My prediction: Tony meets a woman will amount to nothing and we'll have another season devoted to exploring the "mysteries" of super Gibbs. who will be targeted by a super villain in the season finale.

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@ Pat

The show has always been Gibbs centric, but now it's out of control. Every character's sole purpose is to worship at the altar of Gibbs. He's got the new girl who is his new partner, and the experienced guys are put on the shelf. I'm sick of the Gibbs worship at the expense of everyeone else. And of course Tony's woman will amount to nothing, because they will never again find an actress with the chemistry he had with de Pablo. It can't be done.

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@ Pat

If you count the season 9 arc with John cole trying to kill him that sort of counts.

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@ Dean

Wait, you're capable of making a post that does not refer to dead babies? Miracle of miracles.

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Gary Glasberg is awful at his job. Any child could come up with better SL.

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@ Cherrie

really SO you must really suck at your job

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@ Mike

I bet you suck at yours

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@ Cherrie

No because like Gary I know what to do

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So basically Glasberg is redoing all the worst storylines of season 11 which was the worst season in the show's history and adding a non-Tiva romance to boot. There is still absolutely no closure on the Ziva storyline and it is just weird that Ziva is not mentioned in 22 episodes. It seems that they are still trying to erase her from existence. Which begs the question of whether Glasberg spends his time brainstorming ways of alienating viewers? So far he was very successful last year which saw ratings plummeting and it seems the trend of ignoring viewers will continue.

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@ Gabi

I keep in touch with my former co-workers, because they're still my friends and I care about them, in the real world. The 'family' thing in NCIS is a lie, because you don't erase a family member like that.

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@ Juliane

But I'll bet you keep in touch with them because they want to still have a friendship with you so it's a 2 way street. That's not the case here. Ziva removed herself from him and them. Tony tried for months to find her and fought for her to return with him. Laid his heart out to her. She was angry he came and found her. In the end she put him back on the plane and walked away. Nothing else he could do but get on with his life. She turned her back on them all. You don't stay in touch with former coworkers who turn their backs on you. You can't stay in touch with people who don't want to be kept in touch with and are angry you try. She didn't just change jobs down the street, she changed continents and left no forwarding address. Pining after her after being summarily dismissed and rejected would make him a sap a year later. She didn't want him. He's entitled to go find someone who will. And I'm no GG fan, but if Cote had had the decency to give them more than a few weeks notice she would not be returning they would have had more time to come up with more suitable closure. No one to blame but Cote.

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@ Easton

That story line was absurd. The NCIS team was Ziva's fammily, they emphasized it for years. Her sudden mental breakdown should have made everyone flip out trying to figure out what was wrong with her. It destroyed years of character developement for the entire team. Just awful.

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@ bbicecream

I pretty sure making them Ziva bitches didn;t help either

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@ Easton

They should have had a back up plan. Jesse Stern had one back in season 6, but I guess It's easier to put all the blame on her.
However, that's your point of view, not mine, but I respect. For me, Ziva was not in a good state of mind and anyone could see it. The episode seemed OCC all around, regressed Ziva's character and made zero sense. We had great episodes in the past, pretty sure the writers could do better, anyway...to each, their own

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@ Juliane

No he didn't Jesse Stern was horrible at writing story he did the opening to season 7

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@ Juliane

Yes they should have had a plan. THey did in the past. In a show this big, with negotiations going on for a long time, there is zero excuse why they had no backup script.

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Agentscully514
@ Juliane

Glasberg wrote that episode. Wish he hadn't. He completely destroyed the Ziva character in 9 minutes.

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@ agentscully514

No That was Shane

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@ Juliane

They did have a back up plan, but Cote bailed out on them a few days before filming started. It got to the point where GG thought he didn't need it.

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Agentscully514
@ PatrickC

They didn't have a plan, they said it over and over. None at all. If someone has not signed, you have a plan, period. Especially if it's one of the lead characters.

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@ Gabi

Season 10 was a hot mess. Only a couple of the episodes are really watchable.

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@ Gabi

well I guess you haven't seen episode 11.03. tim send her a text message but he never got a reply from ziva.

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@ Gabi

Weird that Ziva isn't mentioned? How often do you talk about a former coworker at work who's been gone a year? Pretty much when someone quits from anywhere I've worked, they're pretty much out of sight, out of mind within a couple of weeks. The position is filled and the workplace gets back to normal. In the real world, it would be really weird to still be talking about them a year down the road. It is realistic that they've moved on, just like she has.

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@ Easton

One of my former co-workers DIED two years ago, and we talk about him all the time.

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@ TullaT

But if he had quit and acted like he didn't give a rip about any of you at work I bet you wouldn't still be talking about him.

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@ Nena

As a matter of fact, he did act like he didn't give a rip about any of us. For the last year of his life he blew everyone off completely. We never stopped caring about him or talking about him, we gave support to his wife, and we went to his memorial service and burial. You know why? Because we were like family, and you do not abandon family, not ever. We still talk about him to this day. Thanks for your assumptions.

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@ TullaT

Maybe it was because he was angry at his disease. that he knew would take him, An all too common reaction to being the breadwinner and finding that you are going to lose. Good for you for caring, but remember its a 2 way street with the living and they didm;t want to keep dangling the Ziva sword over the show like a dark shadow. FUrther you;d want to hear a voice next . Then what comes after that. It snowballs.

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@ leia

He was angry and sick. We never even CONSIDERED giving up on him beccause he was like a family member.

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@ TullaT

Dying is very different than when someone quits. Someone dies it wasn't their choice to leave. People don't usually talk about those who walked away that far down the line ... unless they were incompetent or were embezzling and the gossip mongers just haven't quit dredging it up yet.

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@ Charley

Go to hell. you have no idea what we went through.

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@ TullaT

that 's rude, no excuse for that. We deal with death in different ways, of course you would remember them , but you can;t contact them. The show did carry the mantel of Ziva around for the first episodes. The point is the actress chose to quit, it was not expected, they had to rewrite, and Gibbs said it best she wanted to move on now move on. And no I don;t continue to talk about former co workers especially when I can't understand why they left. I do stay in contact with some but in a 1 hr show how many contacts with Ziva do you want? Doesn't the case seem more important?

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@ TullaT

Dying is significantly different from quitting, rejecting all contact with former coworkers and moving across the world. Face it: Cote has no interest in coming back. Ziva rejected Tony. Tony (as per MW) has moved on. This is a TV show. Deal with it.

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@ E Fish

and you to. go to hell.

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@ TullaT

Wow Tulla ... anger issues much? I am sorry you have misinterpreted what was being said. No one is saying you didn't go through a lot. No one is saying you aren't entitled to your grief. I'm just saying you're comparing apples and oranges because that's not what happened with Ziva. Ziva didn't die. She left. Quit. Voluntarily. Changed continents. Asked not be contacted. Refused all life lines thrown her way. Took her ball and went home. Left no forwarding address. She (and Cote) voluntarily removed her piece from the chess board. In the real world, coworkers move on in the day to day workplace.

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@ Charley

Just don't even. we went through hell with him, and we never, ever would have let him go. Even when he told us to. Because that's what you do for friends.

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Agentscully514
@ E Fish

It was out of character and absurd for Ziva to cut off all contact. Terribly bungled story line. I will never forgive Glasberg for it.

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@ Gabi

Spoken like a true baby killing ziva worshiper.

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Look NCIS is not a show about one character. It is an ensemble and each character adds something. Its worked for so long because of that chemistry. For me the problem is not only Ziva's absence. Obviously i do miss her, but my issue is now that shes gone all the other charcters are changing too. When Kate left everybodys personalities didnt change and they didnt stop talking about her (and she was dead. Ziva wasnt killed off). Given it had only been on 2 years but still. The chemistry is off with Bishop. This show has been on over a decade and GG should know making these kind of changes this far into the show will upset a lot of loyal fans. Most shows dont run as long as NCIS. I agree the charcters need to grow but not like this. Dont blame the actors though. Its not fair to them because they are just doing a job and really have no say. That is with the exception of Mark Harmon because he is also a producer.

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@ Isabella

What ever your smoking I don't want it

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@ Mike

whatever i'm smoking? wow. that is just my opinion and everyone has a right to one. And btw believe it or not I actually know how these things work. you piss of fans you loose ratings. especially if the show has been on as long as NCIS. if you are happy with the show changing as Gary Glassberg has described it, I hope you enjoy season 12.

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I'm willing to bet it somehow involves the Brotherhood/Rivera case from the season finale, because in the episode, it mentioned there were three guns, but they only recovered two. I also want to see a return of M. Allison Hart.

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@Dean: I would happily butcher babies, club baby seals and torture kittens if you would only shut the fuck up.

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Tony is a human he should't be a slave to one woman

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Violet quinn

I'll join the bandwagon. I don't want to see Tony with a new woman. He belongs with Ziva.

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@ VBQ

Ziva's character is gone. Can't be with someone who isn't on the show any more. Not to mention she treated him like total crap towards the end. Rejection, sleeping with an old flame because she felt 'alone.' Give me a break. I'm so glad she's gone...her character had become a ridiculous caricature.

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@ Nena

The show runner did his best to destroy her, especially in her last nine minutes. He should be ashamed.

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@ VBQ

You can't be with someone that rejects you. It's an impossibility.

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I’m excited to think that NCIS might finally let Tony move on and have a story that actually focuses on him instead of always relegating him to the supporting role in everyone else’s big dramas. He hasn’t had any serious focus in years unless he was being used to accessorize a Ziva story. He looks fabulous and it would be nice if they could take the hero spotlight off of Gibbs for a second or two and let Tony shine as an agent. Bishop has always been great for the show I work with more married people then I do single people and never made NCIS feel real that there were no married people on the show. She is as american as Apple pie. Abby is finally a adult again and no longer a 16 year old school girl wanting to sleep with her 40 year old teacher, I do miss fact Mcgee but he a lot better now then he has been. Can I just say that I think its sad that people need sex in order to enjoy a crime drama all these people who only watch to see Tony be rape and abuse by a female is just wrong in my eyes and really make me worry about our country future. Nice to have NCIS back and its nice to see it being what it should of always been a show for the fans not the shippers

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@ Mike

You've summed it up with a phrase that is the best I've seen in any of these discussions when you say he was only used in the last Ziva seasons to "accessorize a Ziva story." Wish I'd thought up that descriptive because it perfectly sums up my thoughts. And I agree with you about Abby too.

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@ Mike

Raped and abused? Oh, it's mike again.

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@ Sandra Miller

Make that Michael.

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@ Sandra Miller

At least its true and a good reason to not like a character unlike you NCIS haters She eat OMG how childish of her for eating ps To all NCIS haters Human need to eat to live.

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I really like the new girl. I think she's refreshing. But I don't like story arcs. I miss the old way of doing a series, each being a self-contained story. You don't have to watch them in order, and you don't have to have a great memory.

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Violet quinn
@ TerryT

She is as refreshing as a fresh turd.

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@ TerryT

Okay I see your point BUT some show like NCIS need story arcs as they get older or else they becoming boring look at Law and Order and how bad it go

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@ Mike

NCIS has had ONE good arc: Ari back in season 1 and 2. Every arc since then has been lacking. The Dearing arc had potential but it was ruined by a terrible and weak payoff. They do so much better with stand alone episodes.

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Violet quinn
@ Mike

Agreed, I don't care about the crime of the week. I care about story arcs. I'll watch Law and Order for crime of the week.

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NCIS Quotes

McGee: Rule number 70 - keep digging till you hit bottom.
Abby: McGee! There is no rule 70.
McGee: Well, I--
Abby: You just made up a rule. This McGibbs thing has really gone to your head. I don't even recognize you right now.

McGee: All right. Well you should probably know that Abby and I used to date?
Bishop: Ew. Like, each other?
McGee: Yeah.
Bishop: Wait - isn't that a violation of rule 12, never date a....
McGee: It was a long time ago. After we'd broken up, one night I went to her lab. Found a scribbled piece paper; a list. Potential boyfriends had to fulfill certain conditions by a pre-arranged date or else, goodbye.
Bishop: Such as.
McGee: Things started off relatively normal: opening the door for her, flowers, putting the seat down. Then around number 8, it gets uh...
Bishop: What?
McGee: Does she know you have these?
Bishop: Does she know you have these?
McGee: Yeah she wasn't happy when she found out.
Bishop: These are all very specific.
McGee: Yeah.
Bishop: These ideas apply to you?
McGee: No those rules weren't in place when we were together. At least I don't think so.
Bishop: What's with the two month cutoff? Abby's sabotaging herself. I've seen stuff like this before. We have to talk to her.