NCIS season 18: Fans tune in to ‘COVID free’ premiere: ‘Don’t want to be reminded’

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CBS viewers tuned in tonight to catch the highly anticipated return of NCIS. The long-running series’ decision to set the action before the outbreak of the coronavirus in March has confused some fans. However, others felt the new instalment offered some much needed escapism from the continuing pandemic. 

NCIS finally returned this week for the action-packed premiere of its delayed 18th season.

The show’s previous outing was cut short in April this year when production was forced to shut down amid the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

As the entertainment industry continues to feel the effects of COVID-19, television shows have had to make some extensive changes to their regular schedules.

Showrunner Shane Brennan and the NCIS writing team made the tough call to set the events of the new season before the start of the pandemic.

Their decision has baffled some fans after spin-off series NCIS: New Orleans addressed the pandemic head on over the last two weeks.

Meanwhile, the franchise’s first off-shoot, NCIS: Los Angeles, has opted to avoid the unprecedented events of 2020 by setting the action post-COVID.

In the new premiere, Sturgeon Season, the NCIS team try to track down the elusive leader of a powerful drug ring who supplied narcotics to the daughter of Tobias Fornell (played by Joe Spano).

With Leroy Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and Fornell on the case, the rest of the team are stumped by a body’s disappearance from the NCIS morgue.

Many wishful fans tuned in to CBS in hopes the premiere would finally develop the slowly developing romance between agents Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) and Bishop (Emily Wickersham).

As reactions to the new episode poured in on Twitter, one fan remarked: “Torres and Bishop needs to happen this season. But the writers aren’t ready for that discussion.”

Unfortunately, viewers were left disappointed, but there’s still a chance the fledgling relationship will finally surface as the series continues.

Meanwhile, a substantial portion of the audience were thankful this season ignored the bleak reality of the ongoing pandemic.

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Another fan posted: “Thankful 2 out of 3 of my favorite NCIS shows are COVID free!!! I watch for the entertainment, if I wanted reality I would look out my window!!”

The flagship NCIS series offered a refreshing contrast to NCIS: NOLA’s conclusion to its opening two-parter on Sunday night.

Something In the Air, Part 2 highlighted Dr. Loretta Wade’s (C.C.H. Pounder) demanding role as a frontline worker, ending the episode with a sobering tribute to health workers and the lives taken by COVID-19. 

Many viewers were unhappy with the spin-off’s decision to address the pandemic, and looked instead to the mainline NCIS series as a brief respite from the real world.

On Reddit, one fan commented: “Yes! No COVID and no masks like NCIS New Orleans!”

One more added: “I was so excited about the two #NCIS premieres. I don’t want to be reminded of COVID-19 through the whole episode.”

Dwayne Pride (Scott Bakula) and new series regular Rita Devereaux (Chelsea Field) masked up for their socially distanced reunion on NCIS: NOLA last week.

Thankfully, this wasn’t the case for the original NCIS series, and, thanks to extensive health and safety measures on set, it looks to be business as usual for Gibbs and the gang as the action continues.

NCIS season 18 airs Tuesdays on CBS.

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