Big changes are ahead for NCIS this fall. After the departure of Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), CBS' flagship procedural is undergoing a reboot of sorts as it heads into its 14th season, which picks up in real time — i.e. a few months after Tony's departure.
"The intent was to really enter Season 14 with something new, and move the show forward, and try some things, and do something different," executive producer Gary Glasberg tells TVGuide.com. "It's a fun new direction for the cast and for the writers, and it feels pretty fresh."
For starters, in order to fill the DiNozzo void, NCIS is adding three series regulars: Wilmer Valderrama, Jennifer Esposito and Duane Henry (who was promoted after being a guest star last season). Here's a rundown of the new characters and other developments fans can expect in Season 14.
As previously mentioned, there will be some new additions to the NCIS team in Season 14. Special Agent Nick Torres (Valderrama) and Special Agent Alex Quinn (Esposito), will both be introduced in the season premiere.
Torres is a deep-cover undercover agent who is brought back into the fold after years of assuming different identities to work cases, and who is so off-the-grid that even other NCIS agents aren't aware of who he is. "When you bring an agent back to the surface like that and ask them to integrate into the real world and into an office environment as themselves, it's a tremendous change," Glasberg says. "In the initial case that we deal with in the season opener, it's tricky because he's been deep for so long that it's like a diver coming back to the surface. It takes a while to adjust. ... Thrusting Torres into our NCIS world, into our family, is no easy task, and [he] comes at it with wit and humor and pathos and heart and fun, all the things that Wilmer is capable of."
Quinn, on the other hand, is a contemporary of Gibbs (Mark Harmon) who quit field work after "something significant happened," according to Glasberg, and has been working as an instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center ever since. She's recruited by Gibbs to replace Tony after he dismisses several other candidates she recommended for the role. "Around Episode 5 of the season, we discovered what happened to her and what drove her to leave the field and become an instructor," Glasberg says. "Jen just comes at things with this quirk, and with a confidence and a sensibility and a charm that's just really lovely and fun and different."
And Clayton Reeves becomes a full-fledged member of the team in the early part of the season, on loan from MI6. Glasberg likens the character's assimilation to that of another (now dearly departed) NCIS fan favorite. "His situation is very much like Ziva," the showrunner says. "Ziva was on loan from Mossad to NCIS. And in this situation, because of current events and tensions in Europe, it actually in the real world makes complete sense, that a European agency would base an agent within an American agency to help out with intelligence. That's what we're doing here."
2. A new office configuration
One person out and three people in doesn't quite add up, so look for the NCIS crew to be playing a little game of musical desks when the season picks up. But don't expect the remaining team members to dwell on Tony's absence. "In the opening episode, there's mention, there's discussion [of Tony]," Glasberg says. "But people are very focused on moving forward and getting this new team established. And Gibbs falls right into that as well. He wants his team to be the strongest it can be, and the best it can be, and he's all about that from the minute he comes on screen."
Well, one job change — for now. In the wake of Tony's exit, McGee (Sean Murray) has been promoted to Senior Field Agent. "With that [title] comes tremendous responsibility," Glasberg hints. Is McGee up to the task of being Gibbs' right-hand man? Only time will tell.
4. A McGee/Delilah wedding!
A promotion at work isn't the only big development for McGee this season. We'll also, at long last, see him officially pop the question to Delilah (Margo Harshman) within the first chunk of episodes and - gasp! - it's a safe bet that the couple will make it down the aisle before the end of the season. "We may be headed in that direction," Glasberg teases.
5. More Bishop back story
Like McGee, Bishop (Emily Wickersham) will also take on more responsibilities at work this season. But we'll also get to see a lot of her outside the office as well. "Now that we've gotten through her divorce, her personal life is going to kick in significantly," Glasberg promises. A "pretty big case" later on in the season will heavily involve Bishop, and also connect to Reeves.
Once Reeves joins the team officially, he and Abby (Pauley Perrette) will continue the friendship that we got a glimpse of last season, with all of the geeky banter it entails. "Abby continues to be a huge part of our foundation, and has a big case coming her way as well," Glasberg says. "She continues to provide everything that we count on her for, from forensics to the humor of Abby Sciuto."
7. Young Ducky
8. Familiar Faces
Glasberg says Season 14 will feature more contributions from more of the outer circle characters. Under that umbrella, we'll get to see a significant amount of Fornell (Joe Spano), in a continuation of the storyline from last season in which he was shot, as well as more of Vance's (Rocky Carroll) and Palmer's (Brian Dietzen) personal lives. And returning guest stars include Laura San Giacomo as Dr. Grace Confalone and - surprise! - Robert Wagner as Tony DiNozzo Sr.
"It's a new season, a different season, but it's the same NCIS," Glasberg says. "It's the same recipe. We just added some new ingredients. I'm excited for everybody to see what our new team is like."
NCIS premieres Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 8/7c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)