The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 7/23/03

Into acronyms? Try 'NCIS'

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

HOLLYWOOD -- Hollywood -- It's "Navy NCIS." The show so nice, they named it twice.

Technically, it stands for "Navy Naval Criminal Investigative Service," which creator Donald Bellisario agrees is awfully redundant.

"It's only going to be called that for a very short period of time," Bellisario vowed to TV critics with the confident air of a man used to getting his way. After all, he also created "JAG," the 8-year-old series about Navy lawyers that is a ratings stealth weapon for CBS. "[CBS] wants to get JAG viewers to try it out, and [wants to] say what it is, because people don't know what NCIS is."

Despite being introduced in a two-part "JAG" last spring and with crossover episodes planned this season, "NCIS" isn't a spinoff. "I think of a spinoff as being a show that duplicates," Bellisario said. "You take either a character from that show into the new show, or you do as 'CSI' did: Put it in a different location with different people."

That's another thing about "NCIS."

"It's not 'CSI' unless you're dyslexic," he sighed. "This is truly a character-driven show."

Chief among them is Mark Harmon as leader of a team that investigates crimes potentially connected to Navy or Marine Corps personnel. Another is a loopily lecherous medical examiner played by David McCallum, so memorable as Illya Kuryakin in the '60s supergroovy spy series, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."


"I only do acronyms," McCallum quipped.