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When The Ones We Love Go Away, What's Left?

By Mike Roorda | Think Pieces | August 2, 2013 |

By Mike Roorda | Think Pieces | August 2, 2013 |

It’s been a tough couple of days for some of the pretend family and friends we spend time with on a nearly weekly basis. We’ve all heard, I’m sure, about the impending departures on “Parks and Recreation” as Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones won’t be returning after the 13th episode of the coming sixth season. It’s very sad.

In even sadder news it was also announced this week that Cote de Pablo will not be returning to “NCIS” for the upcoming eleventh season. Wait … Where are you … Come back! I’ve got more things to say! I know, I know. I’m not supposed to like “NCIS” because it’s a show that your grandparents watch and it’s super corny and has the depth of a muddy puddle. Truth be told, the last few seasons haven’t been very good. It never was a great show but generally the character interactions were interesting enough to keep me vaguely entertained as I half watched while shoveling dinner into my face on the couch. The interaction that I tuned in for most frequently, often pausing between bites to actually pay attention, was Ziva’s non-relationship relationship with Tony. Did they or did they not sleep together in Paris that one time? (Answer: They shared a bed for sure and then both lied to Gibbs about it later, meaning they felt guilty, meaning they totally did the no-pants-dance.) Will Tony ever be able to help Ziva get over her daddy issues? (No.) Will Tony ever get over his issues long enough to realize he and Ziva could make beautiful, sarcastic assassin babies together? (Not so far.)

Weighing heavily on me is the fact that the writers on “NCIS” take a special glee in writing death scenes for anyone ballsy to walk away from one of the remaining cash cows on CBS. When Lauren Holly, who played NCIS Director Jenny Shepard, left the cast she got shot up in a bar for some reason that I immediately forgot. When Sasha Alexander who played Agent Caitlyn Todd (and Tony’s OG romantic foil) decided to leave, they killed her cruelly. She dives in front of Agent Gibbs to protect him from a bullet and goes down hard. But it’s cool! She’s OK! She stands up and looks around and “whew close one” right before BLAMMO. Headshot. *

What I’m saying is, I don’t want Ziva to go out like that. Please, writers of “NCIS,” let’s not do that to the best looking Mossad agent I’ve ever seen. Firstly, because she’s an ex Mossad agent. A whirling dervish of guns, and death, and pretty decent fight scenes. Secondly, because they’ve got the perfect out. One of Gibb’s rules is that you can’t have a relationship with a coworker. So, lets get Ziva and Tony together finally, have Gibbs find out and then Ziva gets reassigned to another DC office so that she and Tony can make those killer babies we were just talking about.

Also, with Ziva out of the picture, I’m not sure I’ve got much more incentive to keep watching. Yes, there are other characters and other arcs to follow. I’m just not sure I want to. On the reals, I’ve been kind of looking for a reason to abandon the show, and this may be my safe out. Next time someone brings it up at the local convalescent home I’ll be able to honestly say “No, sorry, I haven’t seen that episode. I stopped watching when Ziva and Tony eloped” and that’ll be a totally legit reason and I won’t have to play dodge canes.

On the other side of the coin, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to stick with “Parks and Rec” even though they’re losing some of the supporting cast. It’s true that Chris Traeger and Ann Perkins were characters that just seemed to fit with the rest of the “Parks and Rec” cast, both providing their own moments of insight and eliciting those moments from others. (Seriously though, who the hell is Leslie going to spend her time talking to now? Ben? Booooooring.) However, the rest of the characters are still interesting enough that I’ll gladly tune in and watch the rest of the crew go about their day. “Parks,” unlike “NCIS,” still has gas left in their tank, and there’s still runway in front of them.

How about you all? Has a character departure ever signaled the end for you? Or, like “Parks,” do you just carry on and hope they can do without them?

* When Scottie Thompson, the actress who played Jeanne Benoit and can now be found on “Graceland” as Lauren Kincaid left the show they just sort of stopped talking about her. I once stood in front of her in line at a Starbucks in a terminal at LAX once. She knew I recognized her because I turned around for some reason, did a double take and then froze gaping at her like a moron, and then she looked really uncomfortable. So I turned around and played it super cool and didn’t make further eye contact or talk to her at all. Nailed it. This has nothing to do with the article, I just wanted to tell that story.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.