NCIS Boss Talks Of Life After Ziva and Deflecting S.H.I.E.L.D. -- Plus: Abby Gives McGee [Spoiler]

NCIS Season 11 Ziva QuitsAs CBS’ NCIS continues its 11th season (tonight at 8/7c), the tweaked opening credits may lack a certain “kick,” but the song remains the same, as Leroy Jethro Gibbs and his team of agents — minus Cote de Pablo‘s Ziva David — go about doing what they do best. Showrunner Gary Glasberg shared with TVLine a look at certain reactions to the squad room shake-up and previewed new stories to come. Plus: an exclusive peek at a bittersweet Abby/McGee moment.

RELATED | NCIS: The Secrets Behind Ziva’s Exit: What Changed? Was a Kiss Cut? Could She Return?

TVLINE | As the show returns, will much time have lapsed since Tony said goodbye to Ziva?
It’s a few days after Tony’s return from Israel — a literal week, because we try to play things in real time.

TVLINE | So, her absence is hanging in the air?
Oh, it’s very present. It’s a big part of quite a few episodes. You’ll see glances and references to the empty desk, but at the same time we try to get back to the fun and the humor and the lightness and the banter of the squad room — all the things that people like about our show. But we’re not hiding from it, it’s acknowledged.

TVLINE | When last I spoke to Michael Weatherly, he was quite excited about where he sensed Tony was going after this. What can you say about his story moving forward? Has Tony changed?
Yes, I think Tony has changed a bit. He’s matured. He’s experienced a loss in his personal life, and I think it’s going to affect how he moves forward. It’s certainly affecting how we as writers are handling him. He’s still very much Tony — he still cracks a joke and lights up the room with a smile and has some fun, but there’s also a seriousness. NCIS Preview Ziva QuitsThere’s a step forward that has happened, and I don’t think we’re hiding from that.

RELATED | Cote de Pablo Mum on NCIS Exit Details: ‘I Left Under My Terms’

TVLINE | Who would you say is second-most affected by Ziva’s absence?
That’s an interesting question…. I think Abby certainly feels it. Ducky comments on it. McGee certainly feels it….

TVLINE | Gibbs seemed to dread taking her phone call….
The interesting one for me is Gibbs, because I think he really does feel it, but in classic Gibbs fashion, he’s not going to show it. That’s the challenge of writing to it, and that’s the brilliance of Mark Harmon as an actor — how do you show that beneath the surface and not have someone come out and say what they’re feeling?

TVLINE | New opening credits, I assume?
Yes, a different main title sequence. That was an interesting process, as well — emotional and challenging. But yeah, a little different.

RELATED | NCIS Recap: A Kiss Before Goodbye-ing — What Grade Do You Give Cote de Pablo’s Exit?

TVLINE | Is Benham Parsa the Season 11 big bad you told me about at summer TCA?
[That threat] is significant and it will pop back up again. It’s going to mean something. And I think it represents interesting stuff that’s happening in our world. As we move into what I call the “more traditional” episodes of the show, just be aware that he’s still out there. He will end up on the Most Wanted wall.

TVLINE EXCLUSIVE PHOTO:  Abby gives McGee one of Ziva's scarves.

TVLINE EXCLUSIVE PHOTO:
Abby gives McGee one of Ziva’s scarves.

TVLINE | What else is coming up?
You’ve got this [week's] “Under the Radar” episode, which is kind of a “reset” for us. That’s where Roma Maffia (Nip/Tuck) has this fun stint as a retiring agent who helps us out in the squad room. In the episode after that, Muse Watson comes back as Mike Franks, in a really emotional storyline for Gibbs. Those are all flashback scenes, and they’re really nicely done. Lolita Davidovich (Blaze) is also in that episode. After that, you’ve got Tony’s return to Baltimore, for some more insight into who he was — even before he became a detective.

TVLINE | What precipitates that?
There’s a crime that comes up that “connects the dots” a little bit and brings up some memories, and honestly revisits a whole bunch of things. Again, I’m really content with the slow build of getting back on our feet after [Ziva's departure]. And then coming up in November, we’ll introduce everybody to [Ziva's potential replacement] Ellie Bishop.

TVLINE | Some fans worry Bishop will be just a “female McGee.”
That was because there was a line that either I or someone threw out there, that described her in a specific way, as being… I forget what the phrase was. But she’s not [like McGee]. Emily Wickersham is a terrific actress and she’s going to bring a whole new spin and life to this character. That episode starts prepping next week, and I think she’s going to bring something fun to this group.

RELATED | S.H.I.E.L.D. Ratings Drops in Week 2, Falls Behind NCIS

TVLINE | Lastly, were you relieved to see ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. not ding your numbers much at all? Was that on your mind?
It’s funny — every season, this stuff comes about and I’ve learned that all I can do is focus on the shows that I make. Especially this season, more than ever. Season 11 wasn’t supposed to have all the bumps and curves in the road that it has, and I’ve focused on making the best show that we can make. Whatever unfolds elsewhere, that just happens. There’s not much I can do about it.

Want more scoop on NCIS, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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60 Comments
  1. Sue says:

    I’m gonna miss Ziva, but I’m gonna be wondering what would have happened if Tony could have talked her to come back, and then fall in love in the show…while working together. Woulda, Coulda been fun.

  2. yes, she's gone says:

    I doubt that Tony would have gotten involved with z against Rule 12. So even if she would have come back, thank goodness she didn’t, I still don’t think you would have gotten your tiva unless one of them left the team.

    • Matthew Weber says:

      Look how many times Gibbs has broken rule 12, just that we know of. First was for sure Director Shepard, then there was the army woman, then the mind game shrink. All of them were co-workers, and Gibbs broke the rule. So IDK if Tony would have put much into that one.

      • as524 says:

        Hollis & Doc Ryan were not co-workers…they were with OTHER Agencies.

        & most likely Rule 12 came from the Jen romance

  3. yes, she's gone says:

    Yeah, a new opening credits, can’t wait to see them.

    • Bill Finney says:

      Regardless of what they do it will be better than NCIS L.A. I think that show stinks. A Navy organization without the Navy. Give me a break.

  4. yes, she's gone says:

    Looking forward to meeting Bishop.

    • LYNN says:

      NO MATTER WHO THEY GET OR HOW GOOD THEY ARE IT WONT BE THE SAME WITHOUT ZIVA. SHE WAS THE BEST

      • Evelyn says:

        I am in total agreement — Ziva was her own character, livened up the set with strength and beauty. I watched this week’s episode and I felt there was a void on the screen without Ziva. I would not care how she is brought back BUT BRING HER BACK!!!!

      • Ramona Ireland says:

        I dont like that Ziva is gone. Tony and her dint even get a chance. I wont watch the new ones till she comes back. I dont watch NCIS when Kate is on it, so the whole family will change the channel for me. BRING BACK ZIVA! SHE IS GOOOOOOOOOD? Thank you

  5. The Rookie says:

    Wow, since there is no TIVA the news has almost no comments. I have been a fan since JAG, and I will continue to be a fan. And for me Kate >>> Ziva, but I looked at the ensemble and kept watching. Hope Cote gets new and exciting work opportunities in the future.

    • Dee says:

      Well, considering the article came out in the early hours of the day, not many have seen it yet.

      I’m glad for the new opening credits and look forward to the new team members.

    • as524 says:

      Yeah not commenting is part of their ‘campaign’ to get cdp back. They think because there will be so many less comments that sites like this one might just join them in their fight & then once they’ve got cdp properly reestablished (gag), then life will go back to their version of the happy normal (with tiva in an on-screen, canon relationship)

    • Sharlyn sorge says:

      Why did Ziva leave the show?

  6. as524 says:

    Nice to know they finally changed the opening credits….will give me a reason to make sure to see them….

    Like others, I can’t wait til November to meet Bishop. But I’m also hoping this drawn-out acknowledgement of ziva not being around isn’t too prevalent.

  7. John 1138 says:

    In the office I expect there’ll be a difference from the tragedy of Kate being taken from them to Ziva choosing to leave. The whole “desk” thing won’t be repeated, no shrine for someone who leaves no matter if the reason’s are understood or not.

    Looking forward to new directions for the team.

  8. wjrxyz says:

    I watched NCIS for years but completely stopped watching it when Jamie Lee Curtis came on the show.

    • Mike says:

      And she was only on the show for a few episodes during ONE season. She’s been absent for over a full season now. You’re missing out.

      • wjrxyz says:

        No, I am not missing out. It forever changed my perception of the show from a enjoyable procedural to a soap opera. Once that feeling comes into play, I will not go back. Not my loss at all.

        • Passive-Aggressive Behavior is for Kids says:

          There was nothing “soapy” about JLC’s arc on NCIS. Her presence just screwed up your own personal fantasies of “Gibbs,” is all; some fans who crush hard on TV characters get their panties in a twist when that character gets laid or expresses sexual interest in a female character on the show. A perfect example of this is the “House/Cuddy” debate, which sent the “Hugh Laurie crushers” into jealous fits of rage when “House” began sniffing around “Cuddy.” JLC is gone now; in fact, her character left in kind of a snit and under ridiculous circumstances, so I wouldn’t waste my time worrying about her or her character turning up again. So you are free to enjoy the show again, your daydreams unfettered by any threatening female interlopers.

  9. tejas says:

    Can’t wait for tonight’s episode. Really looking forward to the new opening credits, too. :-) I was very pleased by Tony’s casual manner in the preview. Glad it looks like they’re not going to have him moping – that would be horribly out of character. Can’t wait to see how the season plays out now – first time I’ve been excited by a new season in years.

  10. tejasjulia says:

    Oh! And Roma Moffia’s character sounds like fun, too. :-)

  11. Andrea says:

    I’m looking forward to Roma Moffia’s character as well. I’m also a fan of Mike Franks, so I’ll enjoy that too. More Baltimore backstory for Tony is another plus, and then we’ll get to meet Bishop. Sounds like a jam-packed Fall that will interest me. Thanks for the interview, Matt.

  12. Tav says:

    “But we’re not hiding from it, it’s acknowledged.” Yeah… I wouldn’t be surprised if they never mention/reference Ziva again, at least outside the context of Tony’s ~man pain~.

    Ziva’s farewell couldn’t even be about her (we barely even SAW her), it had to be about Tony’s “journey”. GG couldn’t even let us say goodbye to Ziva through her own eyes, it had to be through the lens of Tony. And GG will surely continue to reduce her exit (like all the deaths of the NCIS women) into just another plot point in service of the male characters.

    • NCIS4evr says:

      Well Ziva, like Cote, chose to leave and move on. And the team, just like the cast, have a job to do, so will move on. That’s life. I guess fans can choose to move forward with the show, or find something else to watch.

      • Mike Hammer says:

        ONLY comment Gibbs/Harmon made about Ziva/Depablo was a terse, she wanted to move on so let’s move on. Cold as an icepick through the jugular.

  13. NCIS4evr says:

    Thanks Matt, I really liked the questions you asked, which touched on what I wanted to know as well. The fact that Glasberg mentioned writing Tony as a bit more serious and mature, while still retaining his sense of fun, gives me hope. Looking forward to the Baltimore flashback episode, as well as meeting the new probie. As for Gibbs never showing his emotions, he used to be a lot more relaxed and playful with the team, and even smiled at times. I’d like to see some glimpses of that Gibbs again.

  14. Linda Fisher says:

    My daughter worked for NCIS when the show first aired. She was in a movie clip explaining what all her employees’ job functions were. I would like to obtain a copy of this for her young sons to see. Is this possible?

    • Spill It! says:

      That is so totally awesome! What, specifically, did she do on the show?

      • Linda Fisher says:

        Reply to “Spill It”: She did nothing within the show itself. The clip I refer to was more like a documentary that was posted on the NCIS tv show website. She was interviewed as she walked from one employee to the next explaining what was entailed in each job.

  15. Marie says:

    Hoping that eventually Ziva WILL return -

  16. Joy McQueen says:

    CANT WAIT FOR THE SHOW EVERY WK

  17. arial2 says:

    Good that you’re finally letting Tony grow up! The guy’s in his mid-thirties and still acts like a college boy on Spring break. Can’t wait to meet the new, more mature and likely much more interesting and sexy Tony.

    • Sheila says:

      mid-thirties? no. the chick that posted they were a couple on her website (forget what episode). ..tony checked his page to see it. his page said he was 41….and even that was a stretch.

  18. Georgia says:

    With or without Ziva, the show will continue as it did when Kate left. The rest of the crew had their chemistry together when they introduced Kate. That’s what I love about this show they just all meld together, they are like family. As for S,H,I.E.L.D. I wanted to watch it but NCIS is number one. If it was on a different day maybe. NCIS is #1

  19. FAAQ2 says:

    I am a die-hard NCIS fan always have been always will – Cote left – her loss – I predict she will have trouble finding another great gig like NCIS – not very smart to leave the # 1 show on TV. Oh well.

    • luzma says:

      UNA GRAN ACTRIZ SIEMPRE CONSIGUE UN BUEN TRABAJO Y LO HACE MUY BIEN..HAY QUE DARLE MUCHOS CRÉDITOS A LA ACTRIZ..SE LO MERECE..EXITOS

    • Amanda says:

      Nobody knows what the actual reason is that Cote left. So saying that she wasn’t smart to leave the #1 show or that she will have trouble finding another great gig is ridiculous because you don’t know why she left. But from the few things I have read about her decision was #1 it was HER decision and #2 it was for a PERSONAL reason. And my thing is, if she left for family reasons, Family ALWAYS comes first. Work, no matter how horrible or amazing the job is.. comes second.

  20. jv Drake says:

    Love that Tony Finally gets to be a Grown up while keeping his sense of humor love his humor love his soft under belly and his sophiatication keep writinggood scripts for him he is the most important actor now of this show in my humble opinion like Gibbs nicer to.

  21. Elaine James says:

    I think Tony already has romantic/ intimate feelings for Ziva. I believe Ziva is in love with Tony too. It would be great if Ziva would come back to NCIS not as an agent but as the woman that Tony cannot continue to live without.

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  23. Dorothy Reis says:

    love show, but starting to be like old “Ponderosa” too much catering to “Pa” act more adult and stop getting rid of women like old Ponderosa used to. Jimmy/Breena only real couple around.

  24. shante says:

    Ziva should not have been taken out of NCIS its not the same without her. Dont really want to watch it anymore.

  25. Rose Lina Salehud Din says:

    I am gonna miss Ziva very very much, why must a bloody good team being cut like this? It is just not fair for the fans – why why why? If the producer thing – I will hate them, if Ziva has her own problem, please sort it out and join the team again. The character suit her so well. It will not be the same without her or without the rest of Gibb’s team. It will not be the NCIS I love so much. I was not a fan of Kate, infact I am not a fan of many females character on tv shows – Ziva is the best so far in any of the many tv shows of this genere – please bring her back if she can do it. Ziva please consider – thank you

  26. Bree Williams says:

    This season is going to be weird…I just hate when people say just get over and move on….like its not that easy. When you have been watching a show from the beginning and has been a dedicated fan its hard to look at that show the same. And what kills me is that as soon as we FINALLY get TIVA to realize these feelings for another something bad happens. Its like ARE YOU KIDDING ME.And we have been waiting for them to get together since forever……I just really hope she comes back next sethat,I can give her that.

  27. Marie says:

    Have not watched the show since Ziva left – Watch all reruns on USA when she is on, turn it off when Kate is on. Miss her – Please Ziva Come Back!!!!!

  28. Been There says:

    Ziva had a special essence. She was strong (you believed she was the daughter
    of Masad). She held her own with the men & was so different from the other women,
    thank God. There’s a definite hole in the shows since she is gone. The series really misses Ziva & Mike Franks.

    I must say, I agree with a previous comment. NCIS is really dreadful. Cece

  29. Judi Murphy says:

    I can’t really say, one way or the other about Ziva, just not sure that she and Tony were really an “item”. I just love the show and the actors that portray: Gibbs, Ducky, Abby, McGee and Tony. It’s a great show and I really hope it has a long and lasting life on CBS. Relationships come and go but true friendships last forever! That is the way I think of Gibbs and his #1 team! Thanks for letting me have my say.

  30. Irenehadden says:

    When is the new NCIS being screened in Britain,

  31. Irenehadden says:

    When is the new NCIS being screened in Britain.

  32. barbara says:

    it just seems that after 8 years or so that cote was on the show and became a strong, valuable team member, that it is strange that the whole rest of the cast would not have ANYthing to do with her , call , talk, email, check on her . she had just become a us citizen and just up and left one day????? with nothing left for her in isreal but memories, the story line just doesn’t seem to hold up . if she had at least had some issues or something with NCIS or wanted a change, you just don’t throw your whole life up in the air walk away. it would have been more believable to have something ‘happen’ to make us all understand her decision on the show , as why she left.

  33. Enika Kacher says:

    so many years…. and Ziva and Tony isn’t together? WHY? I like Ziva because she is a strange,powerful, charmy woman. And yeah I know it’s not Twilight but I want some love in this,I want pain and love. maybe Dinnozzo can be shouted and Ziva come back to see him…. it can be possible. And when Tim and Abby will be together??
    ZIVA!!

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