NCIS: Tony and Ziva isn't a procedural and that's a good thing

Red Carpet- 63rd Monte-Carlo Television Festival
Red Carpet- 63rd Monte-Carlo Television Festival / Arnold Jerocki/GettyImages

The NCIS franchise is getting a new series with NCIS: Tony and Ziva but its main players are Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo, veterans of the flagship whose spin-off is set to give us a thrilling update on the lives of Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo and Ziva David. However, their faces, and the dynamic between their characters, will be one of the only things familiar about this latest entry in the franchise. Be prepared for a format shift!

NCIS, and all its spin-offs with exception to this one, is known for its procedural nature. There's a comfort in being able to know that you can drop in and out of a series and yet still be able to pick it back up. Sure, there are storylines and arcs that require knowledge of what happened before and the moving parts that set something, be it a tragedy or otherwise, into motion. But, for the most part, procedurals are designed to ground viewers in a recognizable story structure.

You have a case, the agents look into it, that case is solved. There's banter, maybe some character development, and you've got a 43-45 minute episode to enjoy that's typically lacking deep lore or that will run through what you missed just in case you're not caught up on where the story is now. NCIS: Tony and Ziva won't operate like that, it can't. This will be a story about two parents on the run with their daughter. The show has a plot that will lend itself to an action-thriller not a case-of-the-week format but that's likely what will help get the attention of prospective viewers who aren't invested in the NCISverse.

Streaming is a different beast and this spin-off will be a Paramount+ original. Whether in a binge or weekly release model, streaming content is structured to push a central storyline. Audiences are accustom to following serialized narratives that have a season ending payoff. In the case of NCIS: Tony and Ziva, it'll be how do our players do what they must with a child in tow, what exactly (or who) are they up against, and what stakes are on the line?

Each episode will build to answer those questions which is why, according to Weatherly (per Deadline), the show's format is "not an evergreen, procedural." The star also said that this posed some serious questions for the creative team, and for him and de Pablo as they're executive producers on the series.

"Will the audience show up for that? Are we shooting out of our weight-class here with a different kind of story? John [McNamara] is not from the NCIS universe, so we’re introducing a new voice. I think those things that might a few years ago have been to our detriment became assets when people started really understanding streaming."

The point about streaming is key and it also helps that NCIS: Tony and Ziva isn't the only program spun off from a CBS original that's gotten a format change. Criminal Minds: Evolution pivoted away from a procedural structure for its revival take on the beloved BAU and it paid off. The series was greenlit for a third season ahead of its season 2 premiere.

What's been shared about Tony and Ziva's European adventure has sounded promising. This could be an intriguing and unique addition to the franchise. Stay tuned to Hidden Remote for more news and coverage.