NCIS fans loved Michael Weatherly as Tony DiNozzo. He was the agent with a lot of swagger and charisma. Plus, he gave a serious series some levity.
Weatherly appeared on NCIS for the first 13 seasons. His back story explained that DiNozzo was a former college basketball player. He also started out as a cop who met Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) when Gibbs was doing undercover work in Baltimore. DiNozzo discovered his partner was a dirty cop, so he applied to become an agent with NCIS and Gibbs. And Gibbs served as his mentor.
Fans were crushed when he left. The writers explained his departure by saying he was going to care for his young daughter he shared with former agent Ziva David, who was thought to have died in an attack in Israel. The little girl, who was named Tali, wasn’t killed. And she went to live with DiNozzo.
Back in 2007, Weatherly gave his thoughts on NCIS in a Q & A with The Futon Critic. And he talked about how the show initially was promoted. CBS also markets the show differently in countries outside the United States. It’s the most-watched drama in the world.
“NCIS is sort of [promoted as] The Unit meets CSI,” Weatherly said. “When clearly, to my way of thinking, we’re more like Scooby-Doo meets M*A*S*H.”
So, Does NCIS Give You a Scooby Doo Vibe?
For context, The Unit was a show on CBS that ran from 2006-09. It was modeled after Delta Force, the Army’s special ops. Scooby Doo is a cartoon about some young detectives named Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and Fred and their big dog, Scooby Doo.
And M*A*S*H was a comedy about a group of doctors and nurses tending to wounded soldiers in the Korean War. Note the overriding theme of wacky comedy meets crime fighters and/or soldiers. Is that NCIS?
Weatherly explained his thoughts in more detail.
“You know, it’s like we have a mystery van and we go around, and if weren’t for those damn teenage kids! And (on M*A*S*H) then Klinger wearing a dress trying to get the Section 8 — we’ve got some kookiness. And so it’s always interesting to me because in other countries like on France on M6, the personality of the show is much more at the forefront. So no one even really… people actually think that NCIS is like making fun of CSI. It’s almost like spoofing it. I mean the sensibility is so much different.”
Eventually, Weatherly grew tired of playing DiNozzo, which was why he left NCIS. He had a gig lined up with CBS, which wasn’t about to let one of its top stars leave the network. That’s why Weatherly stars in Bull as Dr. Jason Bull. The character was inspired by Dr. Phil McGraw (aka Dr. Phil) when McGraw was a jury consultant.
Meanwhile, NCIS still carries on, despite losing popular characters like DiNozzo. It’ll be in its 19th season next fall, making it the fourth-longest running show in TV history.