Why NCIS should remain at top of Neilson ratings

Leroy Jethro Gibbs complained I looked “too touristy” on an undercover opt in Key West.

As you probably know I’m a Discovery, National Geographic and History Channel kind of guy. But I have one exception - NCIS.

I’m not alone. NCIS is the most watched scripted TV series in the United States, followed by CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Both shows are from CBS.

When I started watching it in 2003 about 12 million other folks were with me.

Today that number is over 22 million.

So it didn’t surprise me when the series was renewed for the 2011-2012 season earlier this year.

It also doesn’t surprise me (sources tell me) Mike Franks will be back in the 200th episode, which I believe will aire January 10. Actually I got a twitter from Muse Watson. He ought to know — he played Mike.

I used past sense for as you probies know Mike (Gibbs mentor) was killed by Jonas Cobb, the “Port-to-Port Killer,” outside of special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ (Mark Harmon) house in the season eight episode Swan Song as he attempted to apprehend Cobb.

But if Leroy Jethro Gibbs wants you back — you come back, even if it’s from the grave.

Gibbs is the kind of boss all bosses want to be but I don’t know how many employees would put up with a head slap.

The slap actually originated when Michael Weatherly (who plays special agent Anthony “Tony” DiNozzo Jr.) was goofing off during rehearsal. He was adlibbing and going off course, and Mark whalloped him one. The whole cast got to laughing so they crew decided to keep it in the script and allow Gibbs

to do it from time to time.

There is an episode where Tony is acting up, deserving a slap but doesn’t get one.

It bothers him enough that he goes to Gibbs house that night to inquire.

“Rule #12,” Gibbs said.

“Never date a coworker,” Tony says knowing he’s broke it.

In Tony’s defense, Gibbs also broke Rule #12 with former NCIS Director and partner in Europe, Jenny Shepard. Jenny was Gibbs's probie in their Europe missions and became romantically involved, which was ended by Jenny so she could lead her own team in Madrid. Although, since the relationship ended badly, some people suspect that this rule was created because of this relationship.

Also in real life, I met my wife, Linda, at work and we’re still together.

This next season, however, it will be Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) who will get back with an old love interest, Agent Ray Cruz (Enrique Murciano), who, according to executive producer Gary Glasberg, “returns to sweep Ziva off her feet.”

Of course, fans are always waiting for Tony and Ziva to get together. They even have a term for it — “a Tiva movement.”

I seriously doubt the writers will go there until either the final season, or if ratings drop.

That’s despite the fact that Tony’s dad, Anthony DiNozzo, Sr. (Robert Wagner) continually pushes his son to start a relationship with her.

But Tony (in the 2012 season) is going to be far too busy between cases and in his off time trying to fulfil his “bucket list.”

I’ve done this little soap opera part about NCIS for a reason — you’ll find out why if you keep reading.

But what really draws me to the series is the writing and the team’s fearless leader Gibbs.

Mark Harmon, from what I gather, is a lot like Gibbs except in the marriage role.

Gibbs has been married four times, and divorced three. His first marriage was kept secret from the team until the end of season 3.

That first wife, Shannon, along with their eight-year-old daughter Kelly, was murdered by a Mexican drug dealer named Pedro Hernandez on the last official day of Operation Desert Storm. Gibbs, a marine, had been deployed during that time.

Gibbs would later get information from Franks as to the location of Pedro and put him out of his misery sniper style.

But anyway, in real life, Mark married Pam Dawber (Mork & Mindy) in 1987 and the couple share a life in Brentwood, Calif. They have two sons, Sean and Ty.

Sean plays the young Gibbs in four episodes, between 2008-2011.

While Mark was attending the University of California, he was the starting quarterback for the UCLA Bruins football team in 1972 and 1973. That was one of his first leadership roles.

Mark engineered a stunning upset of the two-time defending national champion, Nebraska Cornhuskers. For that he received the National Football Foundation Award for All-Round Excellence in 1973.

Mark toyed with going into advertising, but wound up going straight into acting usually portraying law enforcement and medical personnel.

One of the rare exceptions was when he starred as Ted Bundy in the two-part TV movie, The Deliberate Stranger. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Bundy.

In 1996 a car, occupied by a teenager, crashed through a fence, near Mark’s Brentwood home and burst into flames. Mark ran to the scene with a sledgehammer, broke out the windshield and pulled the boy to safety. News reports said over a dozen people stood and watched as the boy screamed from in the burning car.

After he got him out of the car Mark covered the boy to smother out the flames. EMT’s said there was little doubt that the boy would have died if Mark hadn’t become a reluctant hero.

“There’s a fine line between heroic and stupid,” Mark would later say. “You make the effort. You take part in life. You get involved.”

The boys parents had been separated. They reunited after the accident.

“The experience changed all of us,” Mark said.

Mark has often credited his dad, football legend Tom Harmon (who died in 1990) with a lot of his attributes.

“To him quitting was not an option,” he said. “In the world today, it's easy to quit. I believe in putting up the fight.”

It’s my understanding that Mark literally will go to bat for any of the regulars on NCIS, because the cast are truly a family with values.

I just think in this modern society where the sitcoms portray men as dumbos and reality shows make stars of people, who would be better off in an insane asylum, that we should support shows led by actors of Mark Harmon’s character.

By the way, if you would like to win NCIS: Season 7 on DVD, turn to page 3B. P.S. the answers are within this column.

Mark is also humble. In 1986, he was named by People “the sexiest man alive.”

“Hang on to your sense of humor,” Mark said and laughed. “My obituary will read ‘The sexiest man alive is now dead.’”

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