NCIS gets a fresh new look for season 20!
Say it isn’t so! Even though Mark Harmon was definite that he was leaving NCIS, hope remained as long as his image still showed up every week in the opening credits. But with the season 20 premiere, all traces of Harmon, who played Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, has been removed.
The new opening credits start with a quick montage of the entire new cast, followed by an image of Sean Murray (Timothy McGee), who has been on the series since season 1 when he was recurring, but became a series regular in season 2, then Wilmer Valderrama (Nick Torres), Katrina Law (Jessica Knight), Brian Dietzen (Jimmy Palmer), Diona Reasonover (Kasie Hinds), David McCallum (Donald "Ducky" Mallard), Rocky Carroll (Leon Vance) and finally Gary Cole (Alden Parker).
Harmon left the show in the fourth episode of season 19 when Gibbs, who had just wrapped up a case with McGee in Alaska, decided to stay in the 49th state, where he had found peace.
"What has always drawn me here [to NCIS, not Alaska] is the character I play and to keep it fresh and to keep it challenging,” Harmon said addressing his exit for the first time on the season 19 NCIS DVD “Being Gibbs” special feature. “Plot-wise, this character has taken the path that it did. I thought it was honest and OK with, ‘I'm not retired.’ The character is living in Alaska as far as I know."
In the interim, Gary Cole stepped into a leadership role as Alden Parker, but not taking over the lead on the opening credits, preferring to appear at the very end. Cole slipped into the role almost seamlessly, but it helped that he had been given the seal of approval by Gibbs, who had recommended him for the job.
One thing we also learned in the season opener is the answer to the season 19 cliffhanger in which Parker had gone off with his ex-wife Vivian Kolchak (Teri Polo) to try to solve the Raven case. Parker thinks his ex-wife is on his side, but at the very last minute, we saw that she has a secret contact involved in whatever is happening to Parker. But when the reveal finally happened, we learned she had been communicating with ex-FBI agent Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano), who volunteered to help out with the case as he isn’t a fan of FBI Agent Wayne Sweeny (Erik Passoja), who has it out for Parker.
NCIS airs Monday nights at 9 p.m ET/PT on CBS.