Is the juggernaut known as “NCIS” finally losing steam after 17 seasons?
Last night’s Season 18 premiere brought in a very healthy 10 million viewers that any other show would be thrilled with.
But that’s 3.4 million fewer — or 25% less than — the Season 17 finale last April, which had 13.4 million. It’s also 13% below the Season 17 average of 11.6 million.
On top of that, it’s 20% lower than the 12.6 million season 17 premiere a year ago.
What’s wrong? “NCIS” is old, Mark Harmon ran out of facial expressions a decade ago, and there are just so many Naval mysteries and murders left to tell. The whole “NCIS” franchise is looking shopworn, with “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “New Orleans” slowing down as well. Plus, in the case of “Los Angeles,” star Linda Hunt– who believe it or not is 75 years young– has been AWOL. There are rumors she’s leaving the show, which would be terrible since she’s the only reason those late night reruns are watchable.
The “NCIS” mothership has itself lost a lot of beloved characters, including those played by Pauley Perrette and David McCallum. Maria Bello, who’s been there for a couple of seasons, is leaving to return to films, I hope. Plus there’s been a lot of negative publicity over the last several years, particularly in Perrette’s case.
But with 10 million viewers, “NCIS” is still considered a hit. And I’m sure CBS will ensure that it makes the 20th anniversary mark.