Brian Dietzen, star of NCIS, has admitted that the show doesn’t feel the same without team commander-in-chief Leroy Gibbs at the helm.
The NCIS franchise has had a whirlwind couple of years following the departure of several cast members. The most sh0cking development, however, has been the surprise departure of Leroy Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon) after nearly 20 years as the CBS drama’s executive producer. Brian Dietzen, his co-star, has now commented on how the cast and creators are dealing with the major changes.
Brian, the star of Dr. Jimmy Palmer, has opened up about how it feels to no longer be working with Mark after nearly two decades on the set.
Brian, like Mark, has been with the show since its inception in 2003, beginning as a supporting cast member before being promoted to series regular.
“This has been unlike any other season,” he said of season 19.
“We had two cast members leave and two new ones arrive. So this year has been very different from what we’re used to.”
Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham) and Jack Sloane both left the show in the 18th season (Maria Bello).
While Jack’s time on the show was shorter, many fans were devastated by her departure, especially since they had become invested in a possible romance between her and Agent Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama).
Thankfully, two newcomers have joined the team: Agent Jessica Knight (Katrina Law) and Alden Parker, the new team leader (Gary Cole).
Despite this, Brian admits that the latest season has been difficult without one of the show’s most familiar faces leading the team.
“For so long, one of the strengths of the show was that it was centered on the Gibbs character, which works,” he told ET Online.
“It’s tried and true, and it’s worked for a long time.” However, in the absence of that character, there is a void left because that character is no longer at the center of the room.”
Despite the absence of many beloved characters, the latest season has kept the momentum going.
Parker, who defected from the FBI to protect Gibbs last year, has proven to be an equally complex hero for the series.
Season 19’s stunning finale left NCIS on yet another cliffhanger, with Parker forced to flee the Bureau.
However, once the series returns, the renegade agent’s story will be supported by plenty of drama back at HQ.
“Because of that power vacuum,” Brian explained, “the dynamic must change to become much more of an ensemble drama.”
“And everyone has a part to play in that.” Rather than asking a centralized power, “What should I do?”
Established agents like Tim McGee (Sean Murray), Torres, and newcomers like Knight may feel a renewed sense of independence now that Gibbs is no longer their boss.
“People are digging the bull by the horns themselves,” Brian added, “and it creates something unique.”
“I’ll leave it to others to decide whether they prefer it this way or the previous way, but it has to change.”
“It’s been really interesting for us to see how these characters grow after such a big change.”
There will be plenty more changes when NCIS returns, though some fans are still hoping for another appearance from Gibbs to commemorate the series’ 20th season.
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