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Matt's Inside Line: Scoop on Both NCIS Shows, Two CSIs, Criminal Minds, Chuck and More!

Which NCIS series is set to put a bullet in one of its regulars? For Criminal Minds‘ Prentiss, will it not necessarily be “happy to see me” when she returns from the “dead”? What’s the mind-blowing twist on tap for Chuck fans? Read on for those answers, plus other teases from some of TV’s hottest shows.

NCIS: Los Angeles | We love it when show boss Shane Brennan starts a sentence with: “I’ll tell you something I don’t think Ive told anyone else….” This time around, during a chat at a Wednesday-night Television Critics Association soiree, he shared with me that not only does Season 3 pick up a mere three minutes after the finale left off, but the proceeding 43 minutes of the premiere will unspool in “real time” a la 24. “It has a narrative drive that is such that you should really go to the bathroom before you watch this show,” he advised with a chuckle. “We cocked the gun, so to speak.” Among what’s on tap, including the next surprising beats in the “Who is Callen?” story: A main character gets shot, “and the ramifications of that resonate for four episodes.” What’s that season premiere date again? Oh, yeah – Tuesday, Sept. 20.

NCIS Nabs Lily Tomlin for McGee-Centric Episode

NCIS | Turning now to the mothership’s own Sept. 20 opener, Cote de Pablo (seen here!) tells me, “It’s a heavy DiNozzo episode,” which is no huge surprise given the mysterious assignment he was handed by the SecNav at the end of last season. Still, she stresses, “He goes through the mill,” setting the stage for De Pablo’s most favorite kind of Tony. “Watching him get in touch with his emotions is a really beautiful thing,” she says. What pretty lady will help Tony land when he crashes from all the pressure? Fret not, it’s strictly professional: Judging Amy‘s Wendy Makenna will return as NCIS shrink Dr. Rachel Cranston.

Criminal Minds | With Paget Brewster rightfully restored to the cast, the first order of business this season is “resurrecting” Prentiss, whose death was faked so that she could evade arch nemesis Ian Doyle. “The first episode [airing Sept. 21] is about how I have to come back,” Brewster previewed for me, “and people are surprised.” Well, not everyone. After all, both J.J. and Hotch were in on the ruse. As for those left out of the circle of trust, “Some of the gang are peeved,” says Kirsten Vangsness, “but I’m just like, ‘Whee!’ Garcia is happy.” Still, it sounds like Reid, Rossi and/or Morgan might feel snubbed. As A.J. Cook teased (quite dramatically, bless her): “Relationships will unravel!”

CSI: NY Exclusive: Smallville Alum Cops Role in Premiere

CSI: NY | As has been reported, CBS’ Big Apple-based crime drama will opens its season with Mac reflecting on the 10-year anniversary of his wife perishing in the 9/11 attacks. But if it’s a highly charged, emotional hour, know that it’s for a good purpose. At the end of the Sept. 23 premiere, which will feature flashbacks to a blissfully wed, smiling Mac, “You’ll feel — you’ll know — that he derives a certain amount of closure, including from a special act that he makes at the end of that day,” exec producer Zack Reiter says. “I hope we are able to convey that he’s able to move on in many ways… and hopefully in a way that allows him to open up and have a relationship that is more meaningful than maybe some of the past ones he has had.” Paging Madchen Amick? Claire Forlani?

Ted Danson: My CSI Boss Is ‘Trying to Hold a Crazy Group of People Together’ – Watch Video

CSI | Given the news that Season 12 (premiering Wednesday, Sept. 21) is very likely Marg Helgenberger’s last, it’d stand to reason that William Petersen might make an encore, playing Gil to her Catherine. But as of Wednesday, when I spoke to show boss Carol Mendelsohn, nothing yet was set in stone. “Listen, every year we go to Billy – it’s sort of like a pilgrimage – to say, ‘Will you come back?’ Last year we were successful, and he came back for that one episode [via Skype with wife Sara].” And now? “We talked to Billy a few weeks ago, and he was talking about what Gil might cook for dinner for Sara — and he said ‘grilled cheese went very well with beer’ – so you never know. I mean, they are married, and we’d like the audience to be able to see Gil and Sara sometime.” So cross those fingers!

Zachary Levi Shares His ‘Somber’ Reaction to Chuck Ending, Promises Much Heart in Finale

Funny Business | Previewing possible blasts from the past for the coming season, The Big Bang Theory exec producer Bill Prady says, “Christine [Baranski] is absolutely coming back [as Leonard’s mother], we certainly hope Laurie Metcalf will be back [as Sheldon’s mom], and at some point, we’ll have to see Wil Wheaton again”…. Speaking with Chuck cocreator Chris Fedak this week, he teased of the fifth and final season, “There’s something we’re working on right now that I think is going to make people’s brains explode. I hope they really dig it.” Um, OK — any details? “It has to do with Sarah and Chuck.” Hit comments with your speculation…. Fans of The Office this season can look forward to an episode in which the entire Dunder Mifflin crew pays a visit to Schrute Farms! (With additional reporting by Vlada Gelman)

The Office Spoiler Alert: Who Else Is *****t**g?

If there’s a show or hot topic you’d like the Inside Line on, email mattmtvguy@gmail.com, and maybe it’ll get some love the next time around!