What We’re Watching: NCIS, NCIS and More NCIS

The subject heading is an exaggeration, but only slightly. Here’s Nielsen’s list of the top-rated cable programs in the U.S. for the week of March 30 through April 5.

1. “WWE Raw” (Monday, 10 p.m.), USA, 3.69 million homes, 5.39 million viewers.
2. “WWE Raw” (Monday, 9 p.m.), USA, 3.31 million homes, 4.99 million viewers.
3. “NCIS” (Tuesday, 7 p.m.), USA, 3.26 million homes, 4.25 million viewers.
4. “NCIS” (Wednesday, 7 p.m.), USA, 3.17 million homes, 4.25 million viewers.
5. “NCIS” (Monday, 7 p.m.), USA, 3.13 million homes, 4.04 million viewers.
6. “The O’Reilly Factor” (Wednesday, 8 p.m.), Fox News Channel, 2.99 million homes, 3.93 million viewers.
7. “Penguins of Madagascar” (Sunday, 10 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.96 million homes, 4.02 million viewers.
8. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Saturday, 9:30 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.947 million homes, 3.91 million viewers.
9. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Saturday, 9 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.942 million homes, 3.7 million viewers.
10. “Penguins of Madagascar” (Sunday, 10:30 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.9 million homes, 3.99 million viewers.
11. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Sunday, 9:30 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.895 million homes, 3.81 million viewers.
12. “Penguins of Madagascar” (Saturday, 10 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.894 million homes, 4.03 million viewers.
13. “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Sunday, 9 a.m.), Nickelodeon, 2.82 million homes, 3.49 million viewers.
14. “NCIS” (Wednesday, 6 p.m.), USA, 2.76 million homes, 3.58 million viewers.
15. “NCIS” (Thursday, 7 p.m.), USA, 2.7 million homes, 3.64 million viewers.

I like NCIS, so this doesn’t bother me, but the USA network’s decision to turn reruns of this show into the network’s whole reason for existence (as you can see, they rerun it every day at multiple times) has paid off.  Of course, USA doesn’t advertise its multiple airings of NCIS as a way of teaching us about history, but the principle is the same anywhere: people want lots of NCIS, new or old, and its cable ubiquity has turned it  into something resembling a cult show, as evidenced by this gushing column by the Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer-Prize-Winner Julia Keller. The comments wind up arguing about whether Mark Harmon’s character is like Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights or Rochester from Jane Eyre. Take that, House/Sherlock Holmes!

If the forthcoming NCIS spinoff becomes a hit, USA and History will have to make some hard choices: they might just have to buy that show too and alternate the shows 24 hours a day.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.