Most scripted shows that even make it to an eighth season are usually losing steam, groping for fresh plotlines and shuffling in new characters.
But somehow, CBS’s sturdy crime drama “NCIS” has broken all conventional wisdom. This past Tuesday, the show broke a series record with 22.9 million viewers, its 175th episode. CBS a day later cleared the show for a ninth season after signing star Mark Harmon for two more years.
“NCIS” is one of the oldest scripted show to break its own series record at this stage of its existence (not counting series finales). The show’s ratings have been rising steadily since season four, fueled partly by repeats on USA, which has helped draw in new viewers.
It’s averaging about 20 million viewers this season, its best ever. It’s also TV’s top dramatic series in ratings for the second year in a row.
In comparison, “ER” peaked season four in ratings. “CSI” ratings peaked season five. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” peaked season two. “Grey’s Anatomy’ peaked season three.
I did find a few exceptions: “Law & Order” had its best ratings season 12, averaging almost 19 million viewers. And “Seinfeld” pulled in strong numbers in its final ninth season that were comparable to its peak.
One of the show’s most popular characters is played by former Atlantan Pauley Perrette. I spoke to her last year. She couldn’t have been sweeter.
By Rodney Ho, email@example.com, AJCRadioTV blog