‘NCIS’: How Show Has Approached Staying ‘Relevant’ in Most Recent Seasons

by Jennifer Shea

“NCIS” is by no means insulated from current events. The hit CBS show went on hiatus for about six months during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, before vaccinations were widely available.

And “NCIS” doesn’t want to give the impression that it was insulated, either. To stay relevant in these turbulent times, the show has to include developments like the pandemic in its fictional storylines, a lead actor said this year.

“NCIS” star Sean Murray spoke to Inquirer.net earlier this year about the show’s efforts to keep its relevance amid all that’s going on in the world. He said it’s important that the show address the pandemic somehow. After all, it has become an inescapable reality.

‘NCIS’ Star Says Show Has to Address Pandemic

Besides going on hiatus for six months, the show also implemented safety precautions on set upon the cast’s return. Murray said they couldn’t wait to get back to work once it was safe to do so.

“I mean, it was important to have a very safe work environment put in place for us to do our thing,” he said. “But, just like everyone else, we were very antsy about being cut short just like that. We wanted to get back to work, but we were also itching to see each other again.”

The actor also said the pandemic is too consequential to ignore. Granted, the show’s plot developments are fictional. But it takes place in the present day. So Murray feels it’s important to incorporate real-world current events into the tapestry of the show.

“The fact that there’s a pandemic happening in the world, I think it would be irresponsible for us if we did not show that in any way,” Murray said. “We can’t just act like it never happened, you know? Everyone on the show has his opinion about that, if we have to address it at all.”

Murray Not Sure How Show Weaves Pandemic into Episodes

But at least as of February, Murray wasn’t sure when or how the pandemic would be woven into “NCIS” episodes. He said it was important that they do so, however, because the pandemic has become a part of the landscape of our modern world.

“At some point, perhaps [the show will reflect the pandemic],” he predicted. “I wouldn’t say we should dwell on it in any way. But it’s become part of real life, and you’ve got to take these things into account. Personally, I’d rather do that than pull a ‘Sex and the City’ and act like nothing has ever happened, you know what I mean?”

With “NCIS” renewed for another season, there will be plenty of time to develop pandemic-related storylines in the months ahead. And unfortunately, it looks like COVID-19 is not going away in the immediate future, so it remains a central theme in current events.