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NCIS season 18 is off to a slow start thanks to the pandemic. The season began two months later than normal because of production delays. Then — after airing just three episodes — the network scheduled a six-week break, with no new episodes until mid-January.
Now, there’s even more bad news about the shortened season due to a surge in COVID cases in California.
‘NCIS’ will return with two new episodes in one night
When NCIS does return with new episodes later this month, CBS will feature two in one night. Episode 4, “Sunburn,” and episode 5, “Head of the Snake,” will air back-to-back. The first features the return of McGee’s wife Delilah (Margo Harshman).
She will be making her first appearance on the CBS procedural since February 2019. The second episode will see the climax of a long-running drug ring case.
According to Stanford Arts Review, the NCIS team will face another thrilling case in episode 4 when McGee (Sean Murray) and Delilah are on vacation in the Bahamas. Cast member Rocky Carroll (Leon Vance) will be directing the episode. And the case is all about a murdered escape room manager with ties to the island.
In episode 5, Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and Fornell’s (Joe Spano) crusade to find the head of a drug ring comes to a climax. The duo has been searching for the man responsible for the overdose of Fornell’s daughter Emily (Juliette Angelo).
The episode synopsis also reveals that Gibbs and Vance “finally let the team in on a case that has dangerous implications.”
CBS Studios has postponed several productions, including ‘NCIS’
According to The New York Post, a recent surge of coronavirus cases in Los Angeles has forced more production shutdowns. CBS Studios has reportedly shut down production for five of their programs – NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, SEAL Team, Why Women Kill, and Diary of a Future President.
The production teams were supposed to return to work on January 4 after the holiday break. However, the surge in cases has pushed back post-holiday production one week. Now, the cast and crews of these five shows won’t be returning to work until January 11 at the earliest.
SAG-AFTRA, the labor union that represents film and TV actors, has also posted a message on their website that indicates more production pauses are coming.
“Most entertainment productions will remain on hiatus until the second or third week of January if not later,” the group wrote in a recent notice. “This means that the number of our member performers working on sets right now is reduced.”
The notice went on to say that safety protocols require “additional time for testing prior to the resumption of production.”
COVID-19 outbreaks are happening on TV sets
The Daily Mail reports that the current COVID surge in Southern California could cause more delays. CBS Studios was the first major Hollywood studio to press pause on production due to the sharp spike in cases. But, it probably won’t be the last.
Last week, Film LA – the agency that handles all of the production permits in Los Angeles – revealed that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has asked studios to “strongly consider” pausing production for at least a few weeks.
“Identify and delay higher risk activities, and focus on lower-risk work for now, if at all possible,” the email read.
A FilmLA spokesperson says that productions have “slowed down considerably in the past two weeks.” And it’s not just because of a “catastrophic” rise in cases in the state. There’s also been a recent surge in COVID outbreaks on TV sets.
Production shut down on the final season of Showtime’s Shameless after they went into “full panic mode.” A total of 18 false-positive tests were eventually discovered due to a lab error. Production for Impeachment: American Crime Story was also put on hold due to multiple team members testing positive.
Episodes 4 and 5 of NCIS will air Tuesday, January 19 on CBS.
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