How NCIS: Origins Stands Apart Other NCIS Shows, According To CBS Head Honcho

 Gibbs in jacket and hat in NCIS.
Gibbs in jacket and hat in NCIS.

It seems no global force or entertainment industry setback could ever be strong enough to take down broadcast stalwart NCIS franchise, with the flagship crime drama (itself a spinoff) enjoying its 21st season in 2024. The fam went international in 2023 with the addition of NCIS: Sydney, and CBS is gearing up for another new chapter with the Gibbs-centric prequel NCIS: Origins. And it sounds like the newest offshoot will stand apart from the rest in a few ways.

Currently in her second year as CBS Entertainment President, Amy Reisenbach already knows a thing or two about changes from the norm, as half of her first year on the job factored in the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes that essentially eliminated new scripted TV from Fall TV schedules. It was under her watch that Paramount Network’s smash hit Yellowstone made its network debut, and she helped bring the Sydney spinoff to domestic primetime. But contrary to what some fans may think, NCIS: Origins was already in the development process even before the Down Under series solidified itself.

Speaking with Deadline, Reisenbach addressed all manner of CBS’ scheduling decisions, and in talking about importing a semi-outside project NCIS: Sydney, she dropped a couple of teases about the upcoming prequel, saying:

We’re thrilled with the success of NCIS: Sydney. I think it’s been wonderful to have these franchise extensions; they’re each its own unique property. NCIS: Origins is really different than any of the other NCIS‘s; it makes me feel so old to say it’s period when it’s set in the ‘90s, kill me now, right? It’s a little edgier and grittier than previous NCIS‘s, it’s got a serialized element of it that we’re really excited about. And whereas I would say NCIS: Sydney too really had its own identity, it was very uniquely Australian and told stories that can only be told in Australia, so I feel like they’re both opportunities to gain new audiences while also being true to the DNA and loyal fan base of those shows.

While she obviously had to keep things generalized and free from anything nearing spoilers, the CBS boss allowed for some small-scale speculation to spread by sharing those minimal hints. I do love the idea of a show set in 1991 being called a "period piece," and I hope that means we'll get to see Gibbs wearing clothes from the Saved by the Bell teens' wardrobes. But here are the two more intriguing details.

  • "Edgier and Grittier": Not that NCIS is completely innocent and cartoonish, especially where gunfights and explosions are concerned, but it certainly does feel more family-friendly than procedurals such as Criminal Minds, for instance. But does that mean some of Gibbs' first cases will be darker and more extreme, or will the show's overall vibes be more adult?

  • "Serialized": Obviously NCIS and its other spinoffs do feature serialized elements for its characters that fans follow along with from season to season, but I'd say the vast majority of episodes have been cases-of-the-week, and even when old cases and villains come back into the fold, the storylines remain compacted. So even if Origins does adhere to new cases on a weekly basis, it sounds like the prequel will make a bigger effort to tell an overarching atand-apart story.

As far as what’s been announced for NCIS: Origins, we know it’ll center on Leroy Gibbs in the magical year of 1991, his first in the NCIS ranks. He’ll be alongside his sage mentor Mike Franks, and we reported in early January that Special Agent Vera Strickland is joining also the other familiar names. Not so much familiar faces, though, since all of the characters will be played by different actors from those that appeared in the flagship drama.

NCIS: Origins is still in the pipeline, but fans will be able to watch Season 21 of the flagship debut on Monday, February 12, at 8:00 p.m. ET, followed by Sam Hanna’s return for NCIS: Hawai’i. Head to our 2024 TV premiere schedule to see what else is hitting the small screen soon.