CBS Green Lights NCIS: Grand Rapids, Des Moines, Omaha, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City Pilots

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NCIS is the gift that keeps on giving for CBS, a juggernaut of a brand that continues to in spite of a rapidly evolving television landscape. 

Emboldened by the success of its flagship franchise, the network announced today that it is doubling down again ... and again and again.

Facing Gibbs - NCIS

Having already spawned spinoffs in Los Angeles and New Orleans, the hit procedural will air five consecutive backdoor pilots this spring.

The formula is tried and true: Use current NCIS characters and cases to introduces viewers to a new crew of agents in a different city.

Or in this case, cities. Gibbs and his team will travel to Grand Rapids, Des Moines, Omaha, Indianapolis, and Oklahoma City this spring!

According to JimHalterman.com, which broke the story, the agents will investigate an intricate string of murders across Middle America.

NCIS showrunner Gary Glasberg and leading man Mark Harmon will executive produce the episodes, and the potential new series.

At least two of the backdoor pilots are expected to receive full 22-episode orders for the 2016-17 season, depending on viewer response.

All five pilots will be filmed on location across the American heartland, though full-season filming will likely move to CBS' L.A. studios.

"Mark and I were discussing the ideas that I have for the coming season, like we always do," Glasberg said of the genesis of this idea.

"This was originally just going to be our season-ending arc for NCIS, tracking these mysterious, intertwined case across the Midwest."

"But [Harmon] looked at me and said, 'We should do this as a spinoff. All of it.' Next thing I knew, we were thinking bigger than ever."

"This is not just the story of NCIS agents, but the cities that represent the heart and soul of this country, and the stories of its citizens."

Casting for the pilots has yet to be announced, but Glasberg says to expect "authentic" characters as part of each city's cultural mosaic. 

The showrunner said that a huge part of his pitch - beyond the guaranteed 15 million viewers a week - is the fabric of America itself.

"The fact that these are places with so much character, but which are so often overlooked, is what drew us to the idea," Glasberg said.

"When we're in Grand Rapids, we want to treat Grand Rapids like a character. That was why we wanted to shoot on actual locations."

"Mark and I really made an effort to develop characters accordingly, and depict these areas as best we could, and I think fans will appreciate it."

The NCIS five-episode backdoor-pilot, Season 13-ending arc EVENT kicks off Tuesday, April 12 and extends through the May 10 finale.

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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NCIS Quotes

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.

‘You think you’re alone in the dark. Close your eyes. Remember everything good.’ My mom said that to me just before she died. Smart lady.

Gibbs