To hear Rocky Carroll tell it, CBS’ ‘NCIS‘ (Tuesdays at 8/7c) has only scratched the surface when it comes to sharing what you need to know about Director Leon Vance. The good news is that a significant intel download is coming your way, with thanks to the return of a major guest star. Carroll spoke with Fancast about the NCIS team’s performance against some new, singing-and-dancing foes, the big reveal on the horizon, and why retaining a little mystery in NCISland is never a bad thing.
What’s the chatter in the ‘NCIS’ hallways? Do you think you’re faring well against the stiffer competition – ‘Glee’ included?
I think for a warhorse we’re doing OK. We’re holding our own just fine. [Most recently, 'NCIS' dominated Tuesday night with 19.5 million total viewers, and it remains TV's most watched scripted series.] When everybody from the producers to the camera assistants is walking around with a copy of the Nielsens, you must be doing OK.
How much of Vance can we expect to see in the coming weeks? This Tuesday, an American petty officer is found dead on a British ship….
I do figure into that one, yeah – “Royals & Loyals.” Vance will be making his presence felt this week, for sure. And right now we’re filming a November sweeps episode where Michael Nouri returns as Eli David, Ziva’s father. He and I have a history, a past, and we’re going to delve into that and how it affects present-day affairs and Ziva’s relationship with her dad. We touched on that once before – when Ziva was triumphantly rescued by Gibbs and brought back into NCIS, it introduced the issue that all this was done against her father’s will.
Whenever Eli David resurfaces, we always have to wonder what fresh hell he will bring.
Absolutely. And that’s true to form this season, that’s for sure!
‘NCIS: LA‘ could at some point benefit from a character like Eli David – a bad penny that keeps popping up.
Yes. But they’re doing great regardless. CBS just has an amazing track record. Maybe it’s because I’ve been acting for 20 years, but I’m not one to wake up and immediately click on the overnights. You just enjoy it while the time is good, because today’s hit is tomorrows “Where are they now?” but look at the shows that are in the Top 20, and it’s amazing how CBS dominates.
Right. Besides the ‘NCIS’ shows, ‘The Mentalist’ tops Thursday night, ‘Blue Bloods’ and ‘Hawaii Five-0′ are off to very strong starts…. No clinkers.
And people have been trumpeting the death of the sitcom, but ‘Mike & Molly’ has done very well.
Does ‘NCIS: LA’ have any imminent plans for you?
I haven’t had to “hop a plane to L.A.’” just yet. Every once in a while I’ll talk to ['NCIS' boss] Shane [Brennan] and in classic fashion, he’ll give me a wink and say, “I’ve got something up my sleeve.” I’ll be popping back on the ‘LA’ scene by Episode 10.
You of course boast great comedy chops. Will we ever find a way to let them shine on ‘NCIS’? Maybe a “buddy adventure” for Vance and Gibbs?
Well, nothing is out of the realm of possibility on ‘NCIS.’ What I think – and I even s aid this to Jesse Stern, one of our writer-producers who was really responsible for creating the character of Vance – is that the big thing for the first couple of seasons was, “Where does this character fit in? Is he a good guy, a bad guy?” And I think we’ve answered those questions to a certain level. Now we can venture out a bit. The great thing about this show is that after eight seasons, you pretty much know what makes all the main characters tick, but Vance is still a bit of a mystery. And that was a great element to add to the show. You had this guy who was a bit of an X factor, and he actually sits in a seat of power.
And we never got quite to the bottom of the letter he shredded in the Season 5 finale, did we?
No, we didn’t. Some of that’s going to be answered in the two-parter with Michael Nouri, as we start to unveil and peel back more and more about Vance. Like I said to Jesse Stern, the great thing about playing this character is the mystery. If we ever lose that, we lose a lot.