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TV Critics Tour: Mark Harmon to appear (sporadically) in 'NCIS: New Orleans'

Scott Bakula joins the new CBS

Scott Bakula joins the new CBS "NCIS" spinoff Credit: AP

Beverly Hills -- And now, "NCIS: New Orleans." Not to be confused with "Los Angeles" or simply "NCIS" - the mother ship that itself was spawned from a long-ago CBS procedural, "JAG," and which proved that there's no such as a good and well-executed idea that can't be repeated over...and over...and ...over again.

"NCIS" doesn't get a whole lot of critical love, or Emmy love, but both are utterly immaterial in the world of "NCIS" where audience love remains the coin of this particular realm. As such, "New Orleans" looks to be about as risky a bet as the one you may have made on the sun rising this morning. It rose.

This newcomer will as well. In fact, "New Orleans" -- which began as a two-part backdoor pilot last season that in all particulars mirrored the tone and character of the series which begat it -- will almost certainly be the most viewed newcomer on any of the four major broadcast networks next season. Starring Scott Bakula as an investigator based on a real-life Crescent City investigator, Dwayne Swear, who has been retained by the series as a consultant, that two-parter also, of course, starred Mark Harmon who (he indicated Thursday) will be a part of this new show as his schedule permits. Pauley Perrette (Abby) and Micheal Weatherley (DiNozzo) will also have storylines threaded through some episodes in "New Orleans" -- that's called hedging one's bets, just in case bets do need to actually be hedged here.

Harmon, in fact, later said that he will appear in the first four episodes -- though to what extent remains unknown. The series starts shooting next week. (Gary Glasberg, "NCIS" exec producer, earlier indicated his involvement would be much more limited -- possibility in only one episode, as part of a crossover.)

"When Scott decided to do this, we respected that decision and his commitment to not only embracing this but moving his family to New Orleans, [but] it's an opportunity that doesn't come around all that often," said Harmon who is an executive producer as well as star. "We have big shoes to follow, big footprints in the sand," said Bakula. "The hope is where we are going [New Orleans] and with the characters we are getting, we can ...get an audience to invest with us."

That's a reasonable and well-founded hope: "NCIS" will be the newbie's lead-in this fall.

Ah, yes, by the way -- CBS's throughline on "New Orleans:" Leading the team is Special Agent Dwayne, aka “King” [Bakula], a native of New Orleans who is driven by his need to do what is right. Working with Pride is Special Agent Christopher LaSalle [Lucas Black], who plays hard but works harder; and Special Agent Meredith “Merri” Brody [Zoe McLellan], a charismatic and tough interrogator who transferred from the Great Lakes office in search of a fresh start. Supporting them is coroner Dr. Loretta Wade [CCH Pounder], who is as eccentric as she is smart. "

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