‘NCIS’ Producer: Newcomers Can’t Replace Ziva

by | October 14, 2013 at 9:35 AM | Fall TV 2013, NCIS, TV News

Special Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon) is ready for some field work in Afghanistan this week on "NCIS" (Photo: CBS)

Even though Mike Franks (Muse Watson) is long dead and buried, his presence is still felt by Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and McGee (Sean Murray) when the two travel to Afghanistan in this week’s episode of “NCIS.”

They’re following leads in a murder case that takes them to an Afghan women’s shelter that Franks secretly supported for years.

“This is a story about a time a couple of years ago,” executive producer/showrunner Gary Glasberg told XfinityTV. “It was before Franks passed away, at an event that took place and a situation between the two men.”

Also in the episode, airing Tuesday night (Oct. 15) at 8/7c on CBS, Jackie Geary plays NCIS Agent Susan Grady, a polygraph expert, who will be a temporary addition to the team, filling in just as Vera Strickland (Roma Maffia) did last week following the exit of agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) a week earlier.

Watch the latest episode of “NCIS”:

Glasberg talked to us about the episode — titled “Anonymous Was a Woman” — and what the future holds for TV’s highest-rated drama series this season. Here’s what he had to say:

XfinityTV: You mentioned in our last interview that Mike Franks would be returning. So in this episode, will we see him more in flashbacks than in Gibbs’ imagination like his last appearance?

Glasberg: That is a good way to describe it. Steve Binder wrote a really fantastic episode that I am really proud of. It is a story from Franks’ past that effects Gibbs. We do some flashbacks, and we look into a world and an issue that is significant, concerning, and emotional. I just finished watching the episode last night and I’m proud of it.

Previously: ‘NCIS’ Boss Explains Ziva’s Farewell, Reveals What’s Next

McGee goes to Afghanistan in this one. Is his role going to be changing now that Ziva is gone and he will be out in the field more?

I think we just enjoy sending Sean out into the Middle East. No one wears a helmet quite like Sean Murray. This was a storyline where we felt it was appropriate for McGee to go with Gibbs. I don’t necessarily think we are making it a habit, but it was right for this story and I will let you be the judge.

Is the reason Tony (Michael Weatherly) doesn’t go, fallout from the loss of Ziva? How is Tony doing?

We are trying to deal with Tony handling Ziva’s absence in as real and organic a way as we can. This was a big deal. This was a woman he felt very strongly about, and this relationship was very, very significant. He is going to feel that for quite some time. It is going to resonate, and it doesn’t just resonate with Tony. It resonates through our entire team. Even though Gibbs may not express himself as verbally, it resonates with him, too. It’s just a glance from Tony’s desk to Ziva’s desk. It’s little things that will carry through in episodes to come.

We’ve seen Roma Maffia fill in, and in this episode Jackie Geary. Also, Agent Borin (Diane Neal), a Coast Guard agent, will come back and work with the team. Who else is going to be filling in at Ziva’s desk?

It’s not really filling in at the desk. Every story has a reason why we incorporate some visiting characters. For example, Delilah (Margo Harsman) steps in. We need her assistance for a Department of Defense storyline. She connects and participates in a case, as well.

It is fun to have this array of characters that are helping out. Ultimately, we are building to this place in November where a story comes up that involves the NSA and an NSA analyst. That is when we meet Ellie Bishop, played by Emily Wickersham, and I’m very, very excited about her.

Could she actually be Ziva’s replacement at some point?

You’re never going to hear me say that because at the end of the day, I’m not looking to replace Ziva. I’m looking to add something new and different to the mix. The Bishop character will be very different and bring something we haven’t had before.

Is Emily Wickersham going to do more than one episode?

Certainly. Right now, we are looking to have her for three episodes and we will see what happens after that. I have been nothing but thrilled with the stories we are doing, the preparation we are doing, and my time with Emily has been fantastic.

The “Anonymous Was a Woman” episode of “NCIS” airs Tuesday (Oct. 15) at 8/7c on CBS.