‘NCIS’ Wilmer Valderrama Confirms Season 18 Reached Another Major Milestone

One of the best NCIS sources in recent weeks for inside info about season 18 has been from Wilmer Valderrama’s (Nick Torres) Instagram page. Amid the pandemic, CBS has been rather tight-lipped about the drama’s production schedule and premiere. But, posts from Valderrama and his co-stars have made it clear the cast and crew of NCIS have gone back to work. In his latest post, the actor confirmed the procedural has just reached another major milestone.

NCIS Wilmer Valderrama
‘NCIS’ star Wilmer Valderrama | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

One ‘NCIS’ cast member marked the start of filming in a traditional way

Valderrama’s NCIS co-star Brian Dietzen (Dr. Jimmy Palmer) has starred on the drama series since 2004. For years, he has commemorated his return to work for a new season with a special tweet.

Before the start of every season, Dietzen tweets a photo of his character’s iconic glasses. As NCIS fans know, Palmer’s glasses are one of the most recognizable props on the series. His official season 18 tweet came on September 10.

“So these are going back on today. We’re back. We’re staying safe,” Dietzen wrote.

According to Carter Matt, some of the safety protocols they’ve put in place on the NCIS set include frequent COVID-19 testing. The cast and crew are also practicing social distancing. During the filming of each scene, only essential actors and crew members participate.

The cast and crew usually return to work in July. With the two-month delay on production, the season 18 premiere date remains up in the air.

Season 18 will feature a major ‘NCIS’ milestone

Very few television shows have the longevity of NCIS. At this point, it would take fans months to binge the entire series. During season 18, CBS will officially air the 400th episode of NCIS. In a new Instagram post from Valderrama, he confirmed that the cast and crew had just wrapped production on the milestone.

In the photo, the actor is wearing a shirt that says “NCIS 400.” In the caption, Valderrama wrote that he didn’t want to give anything away from the set. However, he did tease that they just wrapped “a little episode.” He also added that they were “back in the saddle” for season 18.

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As Carter Matt points out, episode 400 of NCIS is jumping back in time. It is about Ducky (David McCallum) and Gibbs (Mark Harmon) when they first met. Sean Harmon will be reprising his role as a young Ducky. The expectation is that the episode will feature both flashbacks and scenes from the present day.

Will CBS air the episodes in their intended order?

When production closed down in March on NCIS, the cast and crew were four episodes short of a full season. Because season 17 was shorter than usual, the first episode when the show returns will be number 399.

It isn’t clear if they’ve already produced the first two episodes of the new season. Or, maybe producers decided to shoot number 400 first. If the production of episode 399 and episode 400 happened out of order, some are wondering if that will affect their broadcast order.

RELATED: ‘NCIS’: Fans Will See a Softer Side of Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs in Season 18

NCIS fans would definitely like to see the episodes in their intended order, regardless of when they were produced. Considering it is extremely rare for a TV show to hit such a number, it would be hard to imagine CBS airing the intended 400th episode early.

But then again, this is 2020. Nothing is set in stone.  Not even the premiere date. According to Carter Matt, the expectation is that season 18 of NCIS will premiere in November. Because of its Tuesday night time slot, it would be no earlier than November 10 because of the presidential election.