Why NCIS: Los Angeles season 9 should maintain that cast stability

NCIS: Los Angeles season 9The premiere of NCIS: Los Angeles is coming to CBS later this fall, and there will be a few changes. For one, the show has a new timeslot Sundays at 9:00 p.m. Eastern (on the nights where there is no CBS double-header earlier in the day). Meanwhile, there is a slight change in the cast following the passing of Miguel Ferrer. A new character could still be added, but there is nothing official on that front just yet.

In the midst of all of the slight changes — including a reminder that this is not the first timeslot move coming up — it feels time to praise NCIS: Los Angeles for consistency. The value of any show creatively is finding a way to make your viewers comfortable. With some shows, that comfort may be within a world of insanity, where there are twists and turns. For others, it is getting the right cast and crew around so that viewers want to keep coming back and checking out the show.

With NCIS: LA, it’s the latter. LL Cool J, Chris O’Donnell, and Daniela Ruah have been regulars since the very first season of the show. The same goes for Barrett Foa and Linda Hunt. To have five regulars coming into the ninth season who’ve been around since the beginning is incredible consistency, and you can add to that Renee Felice Smith (who joined in season 2) and Eric Christian Olsen (who recurred during the first season before being promoted). Basically, there are seven people on this show who have been there since the second season.

We’re reminded of this right now in the wake of Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park’s departures from Hawaii Five-0, which is news that is most distressing to us given the massive amount of love that we have for the characters of Chin and Kono. To date, that show had also succeeded in having a really great core of performers (even if we’re only speaking about four of them) who were there from the beginning.

If you keep your core around, there is a tendency for viewers to stick around. It’s only when there’s change that things tend to fall more apart. Look at the recent ratings drops for NCIS proper following the exits of Cote de Pablo and then Michael Weatherly. Meanwhile, look at Criminal Minds following Shemar Moore and the firing of Thomas Gibson.

The proof is in the putting

Look at the numbers for season 8 to see how viewers appreciate the entire cast sticking around, and CBS doing what they can to take care of them so far — the show was almost even in the 18-49 demographic versus season 7, and it also improved more than 15% in total viewers. Some of this is due to a more favorable Sunday timeslot, but it may also have to deal with an eagerness that is there to follow characters you already know. Otherwise, viewers wouldn’t have flocked to the show in the first place.

NCIS: LA is one of the few shows on the schedule last season to post gains in either measure versus the year before. Want to know one of the other ones for CBS? Hawaii Five-0. That’s what makes that situation so awkward now. Hopefully, CBS learns from what happened at the Five-0 negotiation table when it comes to further assessing the future here. You need to know to take care of your cast; while you may think that performers are irreplaceable, the numbers come out saying something entirely different.

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