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Celebrating NCIS: TV’s Number One Scripted Show 

Photo Credit: Brian Bowen Smith/CBS

Wednesday, February 2, 2011, was a great day for fans of NCIS for three reasons: 1) It was announced the show’s star, Mark Harmon, inked a two-year deal that ups him to executive producer; 2) CBS renewed the show for a ninth season (I know, not a shocker at all); and 3) The latest episode reeled in a series high 22.845 million viewers along with season-high numbers in the all-important demos.

Most impressive were the huge ratings “Freedom” garnered. I started wondering why this particular episode earned such spectacular numbers. Let’s speculate:

  • It was, once again, up against a Glee repeat. While NCIS continually has the upper hand where overall viewers are concerned, Glee‘s the one that usually takes control of the demos. So, no new Glee leaves NCIS to clean up with all ages.
  • The new season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars still hasn’t started. Let’s face it. When the show’s up against Glee and DWTS, that’s a lot of competition for one time slot. NCIS usually does well, regardless, but at the beginning of the season, the show certainly wasn’t racking up wins in all key categories. So, we’ll definitely see what happens when the three juggernauts are again in direct competition when Dancing with the Stars returns at the end of the month/beginning of March.
  • FOX moved its number one show out of the way. With the exception of Tuesday March 1, American Idol lives on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Historically, the ratings for NCIS would take a dip once the Idol express train started up every January. So, with no strong threat from the Simon Cowell-less reality series; NCIS may not have the same results. The competition from Glee and DWTS cannot be discounted, however.
  • Much of the United States is buried under snow. If you can’t leave your house, it’s a good bet you’re going to turn on your television. The weather may have definitely played a factor in NCIS fans cozying up on the couch and tuning in to their favorite crime drama.
  • “Freedom” was a really good episode that was strong on all levels. There was a great team-oriented vibe going on; the show’s trademark humor worked well; the case was sad but really well-done and featured a couple of wonderful guest stars in Christina Cox and Thomas Calabro. If new viewers were tuning in, this was definitely a good one to watch.
  • And, since this show doesn’t believe in any coincidences, try this bit of speculation on for size. I’m going to call it “The Perrette Factor”: Pauley Perrette (Abby Sciuto) appeared as a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday night. The NCIS actors have been known to go on various talk shows, entertainment news magazines and do interviews for print and online press to drum up publicity for the show. Appearing with David Letterman is still a big deal, plus, Perrette is a compelling presence. So, I don’t know if this valuable promo time actually made a difference, but I’m going to go with it. Now if we could only get Michael Weatherly on Conan O’Brien. (Just sayin’…)

Even though Season 8 hasn’t been a perfect season, I’m really enjoying it. I’m definitely looking forward to a few things the show will be throwing our way soon, namely, next week’s episode “A Man Walks into a Bar“; Weatherly’s directorial debut; Tony’s origin story; and a guest star-appearance from Leverage‘s Beth Riesgraf. So, I’m definitely hoping NCIS will continue its successful journey.

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