The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!
That's what I told NCIS Executive Producer Gary Glasberg about the start of NCIS Season 12 since we've been hearing of some actors coming on board playing Russian characters, such as Lev Gorn as a Russian Deputy Ambassador and Alex Veadov as villain Sergei Michnev.
But with McGee and Gibbs in danger in the opener, what will that adventure mean for the season ahead? And now that we're a little further away from last year's emotional departure of Ziva, is Tony back out in the dating world again? And what else did we find out about the Ducky flashback episode with guest star Adam Campbell?
All that and more was discussed with Glasberg when we talked earlier this week...
TV Fanatic: What’s been the biggest surprise so far in the process with NCIS and NCIS: NOLA since you started production on both?
Gary Glasberg: I have to say it’s really been remarkably smooth, not to jinx it. I wouldn’t say there are surprises, it’s just that getting any show off the ground. There are realizations, there are ideas that come up, you learn things about actors and characters and people’s strengths and then on top of it you’ve got a very hands-on network that’s giving you notes and really wants this to work and succeed and you’re trying to keep all the balls in the air. So it’s not so much about being surprised as it is just the amount of work and participation and creative input. It’s keeping it all going and at the end of the day meeting that September 23rd launch date.
TVF: So the new NCIS season is, basically, the Russians are coming!
GG: Well, there’s certainly a lot politically going on in that part of the world right now and it was a storyline that I was kind of drawn to for the opener and I think we came up with something that certainly is super action packed and flips McGee and Gibbs in an interesting, different scenario and we’ll have to see where it leads throughout the season.
TVF: I’m curious why it’s McGee and Gibbs on this adventure. I love that it’s McGee but I guess if I were to guess I would’ve said Tony.
GG: We all know that the Gibbs-Tony combo is an extremely strong one and we always want to do a story that often sets them off on their own. At the same time it’s really nice to have Tony to anchor things back at headquarters when something significant is going on for Gibbs and Sean [Murray] has just been so fantastic.
Last season he was amazing, this season he’s been extraordinary. You know, it’s just fun to watch Sean and Mark [Harmon] work together and this was a really challenging episode that set them out there in the woods and, even with McGee’s Boy Scout training, which has been established, gave them something fun to play. So we had a good time. It was a tough episode to film but everybody had a good time making it.
TVF: Now that Ziva is in the past a little bit more, might Tony find love or be dating this season? I know it’s a very touchy subject with the diehards fans but I feel like I have to ask.
GG: Yeah, we really touch on it in the first few episodes of the season. Tony is a smart guy and went through a really difficult year and we wrote it as a difficult year last year and did a lot of soul-searching and now it’s time for him to get back to being Tony DiNozzo and I don’t think that even Ziva David would have argued that as a friend.
Tony is going to go out and have fun and play the field and be Tony. And his friends are going to acknowledge that and comment on it and we’re writing some fun stuff. It’s not so much about locking Tony down with another woman. It’s about Tony being Tony and that’s the part that people need to embrace.
TVF: I’m guessing once Stephanie Jacobsen shows up as Leia that people might start thinking that that could be a potential relationship.
GG: Yeah, she is one of several. So it’s us having fun with the idea that we’re going to see a little bit of the old Tony DiNozzo again and hopefully everybody will have a good time with that. I think they will, and we’re having fun with it from a casting standpoint, and Michael is too…I’m very pleased with where his character is and is going six, seven episodes into season 12.
TVF: What was your biggest surprise in doing the Ducky flashback episode? Especially once you got Adam Campbell involved, who just looks so much like David McCallum it’s scary?
GG: Yeah. I have to tell you, Adam was unbelievable. I just finished spotting that episode and the flashbacks, the cutting back and forth between David McCallum and Adam, the lightness, the fun, the energy, the cutting between time differences, it all worked out great, and Leslie Libman directed and did a really terrific job and I’m really excited about the episode. I think people are going to get a huge kick out of it and it explains some things about Ducky and about his background and about his reference to his mom and to the corgis and the bowties. It’s just chock full of goodness.
TVF: Talk to me about Bishop a little bit because now that audiences have gotten used to her, what’s in store for her this season? I know she’s a big part of the Ducky episode.
GG: Starting the season off is really about Bishop grounding herself more as an agent, finding a setting as a probationary agent with the agency, proving herself more and then she goes on this fantastic trip to London with Ducky and they connect. She’s very involved with the solving of that case and then along Thanksgiving will come and for our Thanksgiving episode you’re going to meet Jake, her husband, and we’ve got all kinds of plans for Jake.
We haven’t cast him yet. We’re just in the writing stages right now, but that’ll be a fun, interesting addition to who she is and what drives her, and the dynamic between the two of them, and I’m sure we can talk later about that.
NCIS Season 12 Episode 1 on September 23 at 8/7c on CBS.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.