If you’re a fan of Naval Criminal Investigation Service 0r NCIS, then you know already that the fifteenth season of the hit CBS show will forever be defined by the departure of Pauley Paulette. While it continues to roll on with original material involving cases that touch on military life around Virginia, there will be a hole there with the absence of forensic specialist Abby Sciuto.
While Abby’s loss will mark the season, the heart and soul of the NCIS team is Special Agent Leroy Gibbs (Mark Harmon), who directs those assigned to him, namely Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray), Agent Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham), Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), and M16 Officer Clayton Reeves (Duane Henry). They work in conjunction with forensic psychologist Special Agent Jack Sloane (Maria Bello), medical examiners Ducky Mallard (David McCallum) and Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen), under the watchful eye of Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll).
This season begins where the previous one left off, as Gibbs and McGee are lost in the Paraguayan jungles, but it ends up more defined by Sciuto’s relationship with Reeves and the backstory of Sloane. While the pattern of NCIS for fifteen years – FIFTEEN YEARS! – has been episodic case solving of criminal mayhem, it’s strength has been in the way it depicted the working family Gibbs assembled. These comings-and-goings feel personal, and the crafting of each person’s backstory cements its strength as a show. As it has developed, especially over the last few years, the episodic stories continue but the impact from one episode to another, chronologically, has gained importance.
Special guests this season include Kevin Pollack, Drew Carey, and Valderamma’s former co-star, Frenchie Stewart (Third Rock from the Sun). Special features on the DVD set include interviews with the cast and crew, a conversation with Harmon and Joe Spano (Fornell on the show), the “Friends and Enemies” featurette about the four-part case, “Make It Rain” investigates the hurricane, and an overall look at the show called “NCIS at 15.”