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NCIS’ Gary Cole Talks Taking Over For Mark Harmon And What He’s Definitely Not Trying To Do

gary cole alden parker ncis
(Image credit: CBS)

Fans of the long-running CBS hit NCIS got a rather unpleasant surprise earlier this year when it was announced that Mark Harmon wouldn’t be around for most of Season 19. It wasn’t long before we were introduced to Gary Cole as FBI Agent Alden Parker, who has now officially taken over as Gibbs’ replacement to lead the team. Now, Cole is talking about his new gig, and what he’s definitely not trying to do with the role.

Even though fans got the chance to see a bit of Mark Harmon’s Gibbs at the start of NCIS Season 19, he made his swan song (for now) a few weeks ago, and is now chilling (probably literally) in Alaska, meaning that his old friends in the NCIS needed a new Special Agent in Charge, and Gibbs was happy enough to recommend Gary Cole’s Parker for the job. But, Cole recently had this to say when TV Insider asked about whether or not he felt any pressure in taking over: 

I’ve done a lot of dropping into shows, [usually] as a recurring character. Part of my job description is to get comfortable, whatever that takes. I’m not trying to be [Gibbs]. The writers made that distinction.

Viewers had been wondering a lot about what would be next for McGee, Torres, newcomer Jessica Knight, and everyone else who worked for or with Gibbs after their long-time leader left the fold, but as Cole noted, the writers / producers had been quick to note that no one was going to actually replace Gibbs. The legacy of that character is far too long and beloved for anyone to even come to close to such a thing, so they had to bring in someone who would, at the very least, grow on the audience as well as the NCIS team, and be able to set themselves apart from what Gibbs brought to the action every week.

So far, Parker has been a pretty cool boss, and has been able to differentiate himself from his predecessor by embracing new technology a lot faster, being more likely to bend rules than outright break them, and even being very relaxed when Torres (who is not liking the new guy at all yet) accidentally shot down an idea of his publicly. Basically, he’s not rocking the boat, and is giving the team a much needed opportunity to get used to him, which sounds a lot like what Cole tries to do whenever he jumps into a well-established series. 

It will be understandable if long-time viewers of NCIS have to take some time to get used to watching Gary Cole’s Alden Parker run things instead of Mark Harmon’s Gibbs, but as the season progresses we can likely expect the newly appointed Special Agent to continue to gain everyone’s trust as we see him do even more case work. And, anyone who’s seen Cole make his mark on shows like Veep and mixed-ish should be pretty excited to watch how that happens.

NCIS continues on CBS, Mondays at 9 p.m. EST, but for more to watch right now, check out our guide to the 2021 fall TV schedule.

Adrienne Jones

Bachelor Nation, Gilmore Girl; will Vulcan nerve pinch pretty much anyone if prompted with cheese...Yes, even Jamie Fraser.