NCIS is gearing up for its first trip across international waters with the release of NCIS: Sydney, the franchise’s first global spin-off following three US-based versions.
The show will finally premiere in less than a week, debuting its first episode on November 14 in the United States (followed by NCIS reruns), but will be out on November 10 on Paramount+ Australia.
Showrunner Morgan O’Neill spoke with TV Insider in a new interview about bringing the beloved franchise to a completely new space and providing new takes on familiar characters.
“The challenge when you’re creating another iteration of such a famous franchise is that you don’t want to repeat characters,” he told the publication. “You don’t want to just take the cookie-cutter version of something and make it your own.
“And when it comes to a character like the forensic scientist in a show like this, people go so quickly to the character of Abby [played by Pauley Perrette] because she’s so iconic.”
Pauley portrayed the fan favorite forensic scientist on NCIS from 2003-2018, finally leaving the show behind after a 15-year run following disagreements on set with fellow co-lead Mark Harmon. Watch the moment she left below…
Morgan continued: “She kind of defined that role. We wanted to make sure that we weren’t replicating that. Then we found Mavournee Hazel who plays Bluebird Gleeson, who is out of her depth.
“She has complete imposter syndrome like she shouldn’t be there. She’s too young, she’s too inexperienced. She’s carrying a whole bunch of really unusual, interesting backstory that we’ll peel away as the seasons go on.”
He added: “But she’s incredibly good at her job. She’s kind of socially awkward. I just found the combination of all those things made her feel very real to me. I’ve worked with a lot of people who work in the world of science, and she just felt like she resonated that sense of intellectual power and social awkwardness, which I loved.”
Olivia Swann as NCIS Special Agent Michelle Mackey and Todd Lasance lead as Sergeant Jim ‘JD’ Dempsey will lead the cast of NCIS: Sydney.
Joining them are Sean Sagar as NCIS Special Agent DeShawn Jackson, Tuuli Narkle as AFP Liaison Officer Constable Evie Cooper, William McInnes as AFP Forensic Pathologist Dr Roy Penrose, and Mavournee as AFP Forensic Scientist Bluebird ‘Blue’ Gleeson.
Speaking of the shift in dynamic that bringing a long-running crime procedural to a new country and continent would bring, Morgan said: “Being the first international version of a global franchise comes with all sorts of challenges, one of which is how you integrate it into the new country.
“NCIS exists in Australia, but when it exists in Australia, it does so under Australian law, so there has to be a kind of jurisdictional power-sharing that goes on.
“So in that sense, you’ve got, I think, in the history of the NCIS franchise, the first blended family where you’ve got these two agencies coming together, these two very different cultures coming together, and they’ve got to make it work.
“From that perspective, there’s a huge amount of story and a huge amount of fun to be had because it really is the coming together of two very different worlds.”