The cast of NCIS takes the cake. Photo: Michael Yarish/CBS

With American Idol not the Death Star it once was, NCIS has a real shot at finishing the season as the most-watched show on U.S. network television. That’s pretty astounding considering NCIS is in its ninth season. A scripted series hasn’t finished a season as TV’s No. 1 show since CSI pulled the trick in 2003.
Tonight in Canada on Global and Tuesday night in the U.S. on CBS, NCIS airs its 200th episode. The cast and producers were at last month’s CBS TCA press tour session in Pasadena and I had a chance to speak briefly with series lead Mark Harmon, although he’d probably object to being singled out as the main star of the drama. Harmon, like his father before him a college football star, is always quick to emphasize that a TV show is a team effort.
I told Harmon I have a 16mm print of one of his father Tom Harmon’s films. Harmon of Michigan was released in 1940 and the first five minutes features clips of Harmon Sr. running, throwing and tackling his way into history with the Michigan Wolverines. I offered him the print but Harmon said thanks, he has a screener of all his dad’s films (they’re pretty bad, to be honest, aside from the football footage) and that the university also has a print in its library.
Mark Harmon, it was pointed out at the press tour session, has had an astounding acting career, appearing on a network TV show in all but three seasons over the past 40 years. I write more about Harmon and NCIS here in today’s Toronto Star.
There is one actor on NCIS who pre-dates even Harmon’s career: David McCallum. The 78-year-old native of Scotlandwas a major TV star in the mid-‘60s as Russian spy Illya Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
McCallum says he got a gracious note from CBS CEO Les Moonves congratulating him on the 200th episode. “I put it down and a few hours later, I said, now wait a minute, that is a tremendous achievement,” he said. “I mean, the one I did before, that one way back then, we did a little over 100 shows.”
NCIS‘s 200th episode, “Life Before His Eyes,” airs Mon., Feb. 6 at 9 p.m. ET on Global and Tues., Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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