On the heels of NCIS’ 20th anniversary, the NCIS: Sydney release date is upon us! Here’s what we know about the newest member of the NCIS family – including NCIS: Sydney cast and premiere details and what we can expect based on the history of the beloved franchise.
Plus, with the SAG strike officially over, the casts of NCIS and NCIS: Hawai’i are finally heading back to work. We have the scoop on when to expect NCIS season 21 and NCIS: Hawaii season 3 to premiere on CBS and Paramount+ – and where to find LL Cool J’s Agent Sam Hanna now that NCIS: Los Angeles is canceled.
NCIS: Sydney’s cast takes us down under
As characters who investigate U.S. naval crimes, NCIS agents tend to fly into international waters at the drop of the hat. NCIS: Sydney takes this international intrigue to a new level as the first NCIS installment that is centered on a multinational team that’s stationed in another country.
In the premiere episode, “Gone Fission,” NCIS agents team up with the Australian Federal Police (AFF) to investigate a death aboard a U.S. nuclear submarine during a ceremony in Sydney Harbor. A new task force is formed to keep naval crimes in check in Sydney, forcing the American and Australian crime fighters to learn to trust each other, despite their differences.
The NCIS: Sydney cast is led by two CW alums. Olivia Swann, familiar to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow fans, plays NCIS Special Agent-in-Charge Michelle Mackey — a maverick who likes to do things her own way. Aussie Todd Lasance, who was on The Vampire Diaries, The Flash, and Spartacus: War of the Damned, plays Mackey’s counterpart, AFP Sergeant Jim “JD” Dempsey — who will do his best to keep her in check.
The cast is rounded out by Sean Sagar as NCIS Special Agent DeShawn Jackson (who’s also set to appear in Tyler Perry’s Mea Culpa with Kelly Rowland) and Australians Tuuli Narkle as AFP Constable Evie Cooper, Mavournee Hazel as AFP Forensic Scientist “Blue” Gleeson and William McInnes as AFP Forensic Pathologist Dr. Roy Penrose.
NCIS: Sydney’s premiere episode promises a rocky start, respite with jurisdictional, cultural, and personality clashes. Ultimately, however, the new team will find its footing to become NCIS’ first internationally blended family. And in another NCIS first, viewers will actually get to watch this new family take shape.
Even as the spinoff strays from the NCIS formula to distinguish itself, a look back at the franchise reveals familiar themes and traditions in the newest incantation.
NCIS history teases what to expect from NCIS: Sydney
Mark Harmon’s Gibbs, Michael Weatherly’s DiNiozzo, Pauley Perrette’s Abby and David McCallum’s Ducky were first introduced to viewers via a backdoor pilot on the legal drama JAG in April 2003. When NCIS officially premiered on September 23 that same year, the team was rounded out by Sasha Alexander’s Kate Todd.
If you binge NCIS from the start via Paramount+, Netflix or other streamers, it’s hard not to chuckle as the team moons over once-cutting-edge tech like flip phones. It’s also hard not to cringe over some of Gibbs’ tough love and most of DiNozzo’s macho comic relief.
That said, Gibbs’ notorious slaps to the head were paired with a strong moral code and a protective tenderness for his team — just as his team’s bantering, bickering and grandstanding were matched by unwavering loyalty to each other. With Gibbs the paternal head, this family kept us laughing and rooting for them. And thankfully, DiNozzo matured right alongside the show’s technology.
Today, NCIS is the third longest running primetime live-action, scripted series on TV. It’s been spun off into NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, and NCIS: Hawaiʻi, which premiered in 2009, 2014, and 2021, respectively. With NCIS: NOLA and NCIS: LA canceled, NCIS: Sydney marks NCIS’ fifth incantation.
As the NCIS franchise has grown, it has honored the flagship’s family dynamic – fusing drama with laughter, ferocity with quirk and business with personal to create multifaceted characters and teams.
And two decades later, we have a feeling Gibbs would see some of himself in NCIS’s newest Agent in Charge. Word is NCIS: Sydney’s Mackey doesn’t play well with others… but is loyal to those she loves. Sound familiar?
Setting NCIS: Sydney apart
Our heroes across the NCIS universe don’t just solve crimes of the week. They also carry enough personal trauma to fuel seasons of story.
Beyond unique personalities and backstories, each franchise showcases its unique location and areas of expertise. While NCIS: LA was known for its undercover prowess, for example, NCIS: NOLA embraced the spirit of jazz and jambalaya.
We’ll have to tune in to see what trauma, tech and techniques NCIS: Sydney will bring to the game, but viewers can certainly expect plenty of gorgeous Australian scenery and local flavor.
If NCIS: Sydney embraces the franchise’s winning formula, the magic of the spinoff will be found in those multi-episode arcs tied to agents’ histories, inter-personal squabbles, and yes, a team romance… or two!
Building NCIS: Sydney tension and romance
With team chemistry at the center of the NCIS franchise, it can feel like every NCIS cast member is essential. Way back when the flagship killed off Kate in the shocking season 2 finale, for example, many couldn’t imagine how the series could carry on without her. And when Harmon wanted to retire Gibbs, just about everyone feared it marked the beginning end.
NCIS survived Kate’s exit by introducing Cote de Pablo’s Ziva – who became even more integral to the fabric of the show. While Ziva and DiNozzo never actually consummated their relationship onscreen, they remain one of the franchise’s most beloved pairings.
More recently, in the wake of Harmon’s NCIS season 19 exit, Gary Cole‘s Alden Parker stepped in to lead the team. MacCallum — who’d found a second career on NCIS decades after The Man from U.N.C.L.E. — brought Ducky back for a few episodes last season. With MacCallum’s recent passing, Sean Murray’s McGee became NCIS’ most veteran character.
With the original team long dissolved, NCIS season 20 was still watched by nearly 10 million viewers – making it the #1 network drama and #4 show last season. (NCIS: Hawai’i also made the top 20 shows, coming in at #18.)
Eying this new NCIS: Sydney team, we’re curious to see what chemistry they bring to the screen — and who might find romance. The leaders could indeed clash and find love, but our radars went up when we read the NCIS: Sydney synopsis, which teases a “fast friendship” between Constable Cooper and Special Agent Jackson.
We’re also curious to see how the NCIS: Sydney cast will fit into the larger universe. Despite production being on the other side of the globe, there could certainly be some NCIS crossover fun to come, down the road.
The NCIS release dates
Like most of the fall TV season, NCIS and NCIS: Hawai’i was delayed by the WGA and SAG strikes, but Hollywood is finally getting back to business.
NCIS Season 21 and NCIS: Hawai’i Season 3 will premiere together on Monday, Feb. 12, beginning at 9:00 PM. With NCIS: LA canceled, LL Cool J’s Sam Hanna will join NCIS: Hawai’i as a recurring character.
NCIS: Sydney premieres Tuesday, November 14 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on CBS and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the episode airs). New episodes will drop weekly.
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