After a lengthy hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, NCIS will be back this fall for Season 18. Although, the show will not be picking back up where they left off on Season 17. Instead, as TVLine reported, Season 18 will open with a backward time jump for a particular reason.
Season 17 of NCIS ended with a storyline that involved guest star Christopher Lloyd as Pearl Harbor survivor Joe Smith. At the end of the makeshift finale, Gibbs (Mark Harmon) traveled to Hawaii for the ceremonial interring of the recently passed Smith's remains. But, when Season 18 premieres, fans won't see Gibbs in Hawaii. Instead, the show will feature the Gibbs who went off the grid back in the eighth episode of Season 17. Steve Binder, NCIS' co-showrunner, told TVLine, "We had an episode last year called 'Musical Chairs,' where Gibbs disappears from the squad room to go on a mission, and then he shows up at the end of the episode with a black eye." At the time, Gibbs did not offer up a clear explanation behind his mysterious disappearance. As a result, the first few episodes of Season 18 will fill in the blanks concerning his disappearance.
"We are going to pick up Season 18 with that mission that Gibbs was on, back in time," Binder explained. Because of this backward time jump, the show will be "in a pre-COVID world for a little while." Once this storyline is wrapped up, the crew will then begin to deal with complications related to the coronavirus pandemic. When NCIS does return, not only will they acknowledge the pandemic, on the show, but the production will also be implementing some changes of its own that could affect the content of the series. In response to the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests that have been taking place since late May, the CBS network has teamed up with 21CP Solutions, law enforcement and public safety advisory group, to consult with their police-based procedurals in order to better inform the portrayal of characters in uniform.
"Having an audience of millions of viewers each week comes with a great deal of responsibility," R. Scott Gemmill, the showrunner for NCIS: Los Angeles, said, per TVLine. "This new partnership will help us ensure that our storytelling continues to produce accurate portrayals of law enforcement, and will hopefully allow us to play a small part in the ongoing reform moving forward." Tiffany Smith-Anoa'i, ViacomCBS' EVP of Diversity and Inclusion, also added about this news, "Providing our writing staffs with the best and most knowledgeable technical advisers offers more inclusivity and perspective. With deeper and richer narratives, our shows can convey experiences that are more authentic to the communities they depict."