‘NCIS’ Producer Scott Williams Reflects on Jimmy Palmer’s Growth Since Season 9

by Megan Molseed

When Brian Dietzen’s NCIS character Jimmy Palmer joined the team well into the show’s first season, he was a fairly light-hearted and almost comical character. However, over time, Palmer became much more well-rounded with some pretty major storylines. Growing into a character with a deeper set of feelings, and depth that NCIS fans had not yet seen. And, this big change to Dietzen’s character, notes NCIS producer Scott Williams, came largely within the hit CBS procedural’s ninth season.

“When I got onto the show on season 9, he was the comic foil who stuttered and stammered in front of Gibbs,” notes the NCIS producer of Dietzen’s Jimmy Palmer character. Williams adds that Jimmy Palmer was known to be a sort of “naive, wide-eyed babe in the woods.”

The NCIS producer adds that he knows Dietzen was certainly nailing his NCIS character early on in the show’s successful run; when he served as a sort of comic foil. However, the actor could “play that with his eyes closed,” Williams notes. And, Williams adds, by the time the series hit its ninth season, it was time to add some depth to NCIS’s Jimmy Palmer.

“After awhile, we needed to add some dimension to him,” Scott Williams says of the character. “Because Brian’s got chops for days.”

‘NCIS’s’ Jimmy Palmer Has Shown Some Major Growth Over the Last Few Seasons

In a season 15 episode of NCIS, fans saw some big growth in Dietzen’s Jimmy Palmer. This is when the producer Scott Williams decided to write the character what Williams calls Jimmy Palmer’s “game-changing” episode.

In the 2017 NCIS episode titled Keep Going, Palmer digs into his own personal grief; as he talks a suicidal stranger off a ledge. According to a Variety report, Williams wrote this episode for Dietzen to tap into his feelings. Shortly after Dietzen lost his mother. This, the producer says, led to a memorable performance that altered Palmer’s course on the series.

“In my mind, there is no more tragic figure than someone that is very light lighthearted and whimsical, and always looking on the bright side of things,” Williams explains of Palmer’s shift on the series.

“Then when they get struck with a tragedy, watching them deal with it is really something,” the NCIS showrunner notes.

“Brian plays that stuff so beautifully — you know, it hits close to home for him,” Williams adds. “And he’s not afraid to bring it to his work.”

Later, in a much more recent episode, Jimmy Palmer faces even more tragedy when his wife – who existed off-screen for many years – passes away from complications related to COVID-19. This was a devastatingly emotional episode for Dietzen’s Jimmy Palmer. And, it provided an even greater depth to the character who was already beginning to turn into a strong presence on the series.