Mark Harmon said that the upcoming 400th episode of NCIS would be a "reward" for fans sticking with the series for so long. NCIS is entering Season 18 this fall, and Harmon could not be more proud as an executive producer and star. In a new interview with Entertainment Tonight, he promised long-time fans that the big event would live up to the hype.
"The fanbase of this show should like this episode," Harmon said. "I know when [showrunner] Steve Binder wrote it, it was something he had in mind to, in some ways, reward the audience a little bit — people who have been tracking this show for as long as they had and highlighting those two characters. So much of what I do here is based on getting a script and reading it and then trying to attack it as it is as a script. The fact that we had a lot of months to think about the 400th episode with how it ended last year for us here, four shows short, think everybody was pleased to come back and try to lock into what this show was and is, and what we are trying to do."
The 400th episode was a big event behind the scenes as well, Harmon said. The 69-year-old revealed: "There was a T-shirt given out, a 400-episode T-shirt... but on the back of that T-shirt, it has all 400 episodes."
"When you see that laid out on a T-shirt, it's a bit daunting," he went on. "I think that's when it first hit me what this means. It's not only 400, but it's also the position the show is in worldwide, which is fairly remarkable and something that people here are real proud of, and they've worked hard for it. So that part I totally appreciate."
Harmon has been the star of NCIS since day one, and from his perspective, the series' success is due mostly to the crew and the writers. He said that he remains in awe of how the writers keep things interesting in a show meant to be a procedural, without much change from week to week.
"I've always trusted the writers here... They've constantly been challenging here, the character continues to evolve, he's getting older, and some of this I'm dealing with as an actor as well as playing the character," Harmon said. "It's been a ride here that personally I'm proud of as part of this crew. It's not easy and I don't know that there will be a show like this again that has this kind of impact over a period of time like this has had. But as long as it's here, we still try to keep it about the work here every day. As long as this group is still grabbing onto that every morning when we get in, and certainly this time has made us focus more on that than maybe ever in the past, we're appreciative to have that opportunity and we know what it took to get there. We know what it's going to take to stay, so the effort here has been remarkable."
NCIS airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Disclosure: PopCulture is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.