NCIS: Sydney debuts strong in USA

At 5.48m total viewers, Aussie drama becomes the most-watched debut of the US Fall season.

This week NCIS: Sydney enjoyed a bumper premiere on US network television -a fantastic win for Australia and producers Endemol Shine Australia.

The premiere episode drew 5.48m total viewers on CBS, making it the most-watched debut of the US Fall season.

The show benefitted from being one of the few scripted shows on air, and a very decent timeslot. Originally it was only going to screen on Paramount+, but the strikes changed all that. P+ report it was the top entertainment program on Tuesday “based on reach,” but didn’t specify numbers.

On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 63% score from critics, but 38% from audience.

Here are some US review excerpts:

The Wrap:

For the geographically challenged like me, Sydney is a great port situated on the Tasman Sea, adjacent to the Western Pacific Ocean, due south of the South China Sea. The nation’s largest trading partner since 2007 has been China. Australia, like it or not, is also America’s foothold in the region. While the Americans are trying to hold the line on China’s incursions, Australia has great economic interests in not rocking the boat. It’s against this fascinating geopolitical landscape that the crimes confronted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service emerge. In the first episode, “Gone Fission,” an American submariner floats up dead. The corpse rises in the run up to ceremonies for AUKUS, the trilateral security collaboration between Australia, the UK and the US to secure peace in the Indo-Pacific. It definitely puts a crimp in the pageantry of military unity. Naturally, the locals don’t want U.S. spy vessels spitting poison in their waters just beyond the iconic Sydney Opera House. Who will investigate this grisly death from apparent nuclear poisoning? The Australian Federal Police (AFP) call dibs. But no. Enter the brazen NCIS team claiming jurisdiction. With Australian actors and producers on board this international project, we’re entering a culture clash between the relatively laid-back Aussies, who do not want to receive orders from the Yanks, and NCIS, known for playing fast and loose with the rulebooks and not particularly well with others.

TV Fanatic:

Out of the four episodes screened for critics, the series premiere has its clunky moments, but the second episode ironed out all of my qualms. That’s also around the time Swann’s Michelle Mackey and Lasance’s Jim “JD” Dempsey came into their own, and the rest of the cast, including Sean Sagar, Tuuli Narkle, Mavournee Hazel, and William McInnes, began to gel. It’s always nice when you see that progression on-screen, and throughout those initial four episodes, there is plenty of progression.

TV Line:

Now, you don’t need me to tell you that the Sydney backdrop in and of itself makes TV’s fifth NCIS series look special, if not oftentimes downright picturesque, shooting on location as it does at Sydney Harbor (including at the HMAS Kuttabul naval base), Bondi Beach, the Malabar Ocean Pool, Kings Cross and the like. Most everywhere the camera faces, this gives the procedural a vibe like no NCIS before it. (But if pressed to draw a comparison, I’d say it most evokes NCIS: New Orleans, between the team’s makeshift HQ and the setting’s highly specific local flavor.) The cases similarly make the most of the NCIS franchise’s first international setting, with “murder by exotic snake” and an apparent shark attack figuring into two of the kills. NCIS: Sydney also, of course, sounds different. And while I luhrve me the Aussie accent, you will probably want to watch with closed-captioning on, since at least one of the series regulars and the occasional guest star can be a bit indecipherable at times.

Pittsburgh Tribune:

CBS’s “NCIS: Sydney” (8 p.m. Nov. 14, KDKA-TV) leans into the possible conflict with local authorities as NCIS special agent Michelle Mackey (Olivia Swann) butts heads with her Australian Federal Police counterpart Sgt. Jim “JD” Dempsey (Todd Lasance). Additional characters include familiar archetypes from existing CBS procedurals, like a mousy computer whiz/forensic scientist (Mayournee Hazel) and a veteran, world-weary, dark-humored forensic pathologist (William McInnes). But as different as NCIS: Sydney may look and sound, the character types will be (a bit too?) familiar to franchise aficionados. Beyond that, “NCIS: Sydney” plays the same as all the other “NCIS” iterations down to a variation on the theme song and to- and from-commercial stingers. Fans who like “NCIS” will surely approve of this brand extension. Viewers who see it as a simplistic procedural will ignore it as they have past versions over the franchise’s 20-year run. Anyone looking to get drunk need only chug every time “NCIS: Sydney” features views of the Sydney Opera House. You’ll be out cold before the first episode ends.

Source: Deadline, TV Line

10 Responses

  1. I wish they would do more local versions of American shows that do well and by local versions I don’t mean just here in Australia but also in other countries.
    I think a lot of local versions of popular shows could utilise characters from the original US productions to draw existing fans of the originals to foreign markets.
    I personally would love to see shows like Prison break, The walking dead, CSI, Law and order, Criminal minds and even The Last Man on Earth have spinoffs that would be local productions in other countries and i think that it is important to show off the rest of the world when these days most of our scripted entertainment comes from America and presents the views/opinions of Americans. These days i think it’s important to show off different cultures and views and the existing US formats that have large followings are a great way to do so.

  2. Wow, well done to all involved! So happy to see, the OG is still one of my all-time favourite shows. Great boost for Australia, Aussies and the local industry too and might make execs stateside re-consider our ‘tiny’ nation (The Wrap’s opening paragraph above… LOL!?) and also giving shows a mainstream prime time TV crack 🙂

  3. By SpoilerTV Ratings for Tuesday, it ended up with 5,636,000 Total Viewers with an 18-49 of 0.34 (5.48m was the Prelim number), coming in 3rd for the night to ABC’s Dancing with the Stars demo wise as it was 0.64 with a 5,119,000 total and The Voice on NBC with a 0.45 demo and 5,547,000 total.

    Got that from here: spoilertv.com/2023/11/tv-ratings-for-tuesday-7th-november-2023.html under 14th November on the tag at the top.

  4. For fans of NCIS..I watch an interview with Mark Harmon a few days ago on The View posted on YouTube…he and a real life retired NCIS agent Leon Caroll Jnr (who was the technical adviser on the original show) have co written a book called “Ghosts of Honolulu” which goes back to the origins of NCIS…Harmon spoke about being on NCIS for 19 years and not finding any information about what NCIS actually was and what they did when he was first asked to do the show, he stated the show was based on real cases in the beginning…the reason for writing the book is to give information and a perspective on how the NCIS really came about…but I’m not paying to watch it though even though I enjoy the show and the spin offs… if they are going to put in on FTA, that’s a cheeky move getting people to pay then down the track it’s free to watch…not on in my opinion…I’m happy to wait.

  5. As NCIS: Sydney’s move from Paramount+ to CBS means it is the only new show or even season premiere on Network TV, 5.5m is good but not spectacular. Most of it’s competition will be premiering in January or February for shortened seasons. All of the the other new shows or season premieres this season are streaming shows written, shot, and post-produced before the strikes.

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