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Media reports were being posted fast and furious yesterday (Tuesday, Jan. 5) after it was announced that Michael Weatherly is leaving the hit CBS show “NCIS” after 13 seasons.
One cannot blame him for wanting to do something else after playing the same character all those years. According to the media reports from yesterday, he has development deals to put his acting to other uses.
There’s no doubt that the second half of the show will be fascinating to watch as his exit story line develops. But equally interesting is what will happen off-camera.
He is the first actor from the original cast, to have been in every season thus far, to leave the show. Sasha Alexander, who played agent Caitlin Todd during the first two seasons, left the show while it was still trying to find its ratings’ footing.
But the show is one of the biggest hits on the television now. Less people are sitting down to watch “NCIS”. However, throw in the people who catch the show on their tablets or smartphones and that number still averages over 20 million viewers per week.
Who do you get to replace Weatherly who was often the class clown on the show while showing quality dramatic chops when called upon? I don’t envy him or her.
Emily Wickersham, who plays Elle Bishop, had the unenviable task of replacing the beloved Côte de Pablo, who played Ziva David, during Season 11. The writers are finally making her an interesting character, but it took time.
With Weatherly leaving will the show develop new energy with a new character or will this be the beginning of the end?
Cast changes have helped shows. “Law & Order” comes to mind, but it was a program about a specific police case and how it went through the justice system. We got glimpses of what made the characters tick, but not that often.
When Wayne Rogers, who recently passed away, and McLean Stevenson left “MASH’ after the third season to be replaced by Mike Farrell and Harry Morgan, the show took a hit as far as public and media opinion. But “MASH” went on for another successful eight seasons while taking a more dramatic turn at times that might not have happened with the original cast.
So it will be an interesting time both on- and off-camera as to where “NCIS” goes from here and how will one of the most popular TV characters makes an exit from his role.

WYCC-TV is not having its usual slate of travel programs tonight (Wednesday, Jan. 6). The only program on the schedule is a two-hour edition of “Rick Steve’s Europe” which focuses on European travel skills. I saw these episodes when they were split up into 30-minute segments. They have very useful information for those who are planning a trip overseas.