NCIS season 18: Showrunner confirms series will address pandemic by February 2021
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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has had a severe effect on the TV industry, with popular shows like NCIS undergoing months of delays over the summer. The hit CBS series finally returned to screens in November, and showrunner Steven D. Binder revealed season 18 will cover the events of the pandemic after the holiday break.
NCIS season 18 will likely jump ahead to the coronavirus pandemic sometime in the next couple of months, following claims from showrunner Steven D. Binder.
So far, the current instalment of the CBS serial has taken an unconventional approach by jumping forwards and backwards in time over the last three episodes.
The first episode kicked off the action by teasing a potential betrayal between Leroy Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon) and Tim McGee (Sean Murray).
Viewers were then hurled back to one of Gibbs’ earlier missions, which was set up in last year’s episode Musical Chairs.
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The experience has been somewhat disorientating for some viewers who have also been keeping up with the show’s two spin-offs, based in Los Angeles and New Orleans.
While NCIS: Los Angeles has leapt forward to a post-COVID world, the most recent offshoot has gone for a riskier approach by setting the action in the midst of the pandemic.
Although the current season of the flagship series has been a blissful escape from the realities of 2020, Binder confirmed fans’ worst fears and revealed Gibbs and the team will eventually have to deal with the effects of coronavirus.
Speaking to TVLine, he explained the current season will refer back to the makeshift finale of season 17, The Arizona, to bring the audience back up to speed.
He continued: “We’ll use that [Pearl Harbor] episode as sort of a very strong memory point in the audience for when we pivot to the present.
“The really bad version of that is “Gibbs comes back from Hawaii in sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt!,” but of course Gibbs would never wear something like that.”
Concerns were raised when NCIS: New Orleans detailed its plans for a COVID-central start to its seventh season, but responses have been surprisingly positive up to this point.
Once NCIS season 18 reaches the same point, it’s expected the action-packed crime series will take a similarly sensitive approach to the stark realities of modern life during the pandemic.
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Binder also provided some insight into when we can expect to see Gibbs and co. living through the present situation, though kept plot details tightly under wraps.
He added: “We’ll use that to sort of jump us back to the present, and we will be in a COVID world at that point. That won’t be until January, February. Probably February.”
Next year’s NCIS schedule still hasn’t been released, though we do know season 18 will return with a two-parter on January 19, with one more episode set for the following Tuesday.
Fans could therefore expect the team to be handling COVID in the first week of February, though the series is known for taking the occasional week off.
While the new season’s time-twisting narrative may threaten to lose some viewers, Binder assured the arc for season 18 won’t abandon what NCIS does best.
He explained: “It’s all the things that people love about NCIS without having to be caught up with exactly where and when you are. Hopefully we’ve succeeded at that.”
Season 18 has definitely been a bit of a whirlwind so far, but the opening stinger, Gibbs and Fornell’s (Joe Spano) ongoing case and the special 400th episode have already set up next year’s slate as a must-watch event for NCIS fans.
NCIS season 18 returns Tuesday, January 19 on CBS and CBS All Access.
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