‘NCIS’ Premiere: A Time Jump, a Crossover & a ‘Period of Adjustment’ Post-Abby

Monty Brinton/CBS

The closing moments in Season 15 of NCIS saw terrorists kidnap NCIS director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll), and, executive producer Frank Cardea says, “We pick up literally a few hours after we left you.”

At least until the opening credits. Then the action jumps a month ahead, with Special Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon) — now acting director — coordinating the still-ongoing search.

The cast is also facing an offscreen challenge as they enter the first season without fan favorite Pauley Perrette. “When Michael Weatherly left two years ago, it was a period of adjustment,” Cardea says. “I think we’ll probably go through the same thing.”

After three guest spots last spring, Diona Reasonover’s quirky Kasie steps into the lab full time. “She’s still a temporary employee,” Cardea says. “Around Episode 4 or 5, she becomes permanent.”

"Family Ties" -- After McGee and Torres visit the home of a high schooler who witnessed a hit and run, her parents, Christopher (Jamie Kaler) and Julie Bell (Gabrielle Carteris), flee with their daughter, leaving NCIS in the lurch. Also, Vance's daughter is arrested for shoplifting, on NCIS, Tuesday, Jan. 23 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Rocky Carroll Photo: Bill Inoshita/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Rocky Carroll in NCIS.

Another highlight for late fall: an episode shot at Naval Air Station Point Mugu in California. “We’ve got big airplanes and big scope,” Cardea says. Speaking of big, Gibbs takes a trip to the Big Easy — as in NCIS: New Orleans — for its season premiere. Best Tuesday since Mardi Gras!

NCIS, Season 16 Premiere, Tuesday, September 25, 8/7c, CBS