The NCIS star joked that planning for the three episodes was half the battle. “Whoever figured out the shooting schedule, they need to get a big gold star,” Cole told Entertainment Weekly.
The work that went into coordinating such a large production, including casts from three different CBS shows, wasn’t lost on the actors. Chris O’Donnell added to the conversation with his thoughts on the intensity of writing that went into the primetime event.
“It logistically is really challenging for the production. And it’s tough on the writers,” O’Donnell said. “I mean, not only do they have to make one story line that goes through three episodes on three different shows, they’ve got to keep their own show going and come up with a storyline where you’re missing some of your key actors. That’s really a challenge. All the credit goes to the writers and the producers that are able to make it work.”
CBS revealed the plot of the three-part crossover will see some fan favorite characters — NCIS‘s Cole and Wilmer Valderrama, NCIS: Los Angeles‘s O’Donnell, Brian Dietzen and LL Cool J and NCIS: Hawai’i’s Vanessa Lachey and Yasmine Al-Bustami — attend a retirement party for one of their former professors. However, things take a turn for the worse when the professor appears to commit suicide. The three NCIS divisions join together to solve the mystery — which may not be a suicide at all — risking their safety in the process.
Valderrama explained the “superhero” feel of the trilogy. “It’s like all the superheroes of procedurals coming together for the first time in history. It’s iconic,” he told EW. “It’s going to feel like it should’ve happened a long time ago, and I think it’s going to feel like a tribute for the trajectory of all these shows, especially a really incredible moment to honor the mothership after 20 years of NCIS.”
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The three-part NCIS crossover (originally scheduled for Jan. 2) will now air Jan. 9 beginning at 8 p.m. ET.