Shane Brennan is the executive producer of NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles, the spin-off from NCIS. The original series, itself a spin-off from another procedural, JAG, is entering its seventh season. The show’s ratings have gone from modest to massive throughout its run and it’s now one of the most popular shows on US network TV. The spin-off stars rapper and actor LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell and is set in LA.
The original NCIS is a hit show and has a legion of fans – did that mean extra pressure with the new show?
There’s an expectation from the fans and loyalty to the show. NCIS is in its seventh season and has always had a hard core of viewers. Groups of people always watched it and then the audience increased by about five million in the US. The spin-off initially met resistance from viewers who were saying it won’t work. Because I’m conscious of that there is a lot of pressure. It’s very important to please that audience and that’s important to the network too.
That said, in the last six months the resistance has gone away and been replaced with a growing excitement and that’s a different kind of pressure. But you can’t immediately make a show that compares with the original – it will be in its first season and NCIS in its seventh with a whole folklore.
How are you managing to work on both?
I’m managing to cover both at the moment. Certainly at the start my focus has to be on the new show, but I’m still working on NCIS, have read all the scripts and attended all of the production meetings. I have to nurture the original.
Will the two series crossover.
Yes, there is some cross fertilization. It’s not like the CSI franchise where there are different police departments. Here there is one agency.
Are you mindful of the international success of NCIS?
I go home [to Australia] three or four times a year and it’s big there and I’m aware of how popular it is in Europe.
Could the show travel to other parts of the world?
It has crossed my mind. NCIS is an agency that travels. There is the possibility and we may explore something off shore. The concept of having US agents in a foreign country wouldn’t be new. You could have a couple of agents working with the local agencies, which with the cultural differences would create an interesting dynamic.