"NCIS" is in its eighth season on CBS and instead of jumping the shark, on Tuesday night the series had its highest numbers ever: 22.85 million people tuned in to watch as Mark Harmon and company solved a case. As a result, the network gave the series an early pickup for the 2011-2012 season Now, ET's Nancy O'Dell sits down with the handsome star who recently ousted Oprah Winfrey from first place in this year's Harris Poll.
The former "St. Elsewhere" star jumped seven spots to become America's Favorite TV Star, pushing Oprah into a second-place tie with "House"'s Hugh Laurie. That said, Nancy can't help but tease Mark about it, saying, "I'm so excited to have Mr. Harris Poll sitting in front of me."
"Oh, I knew you were going to start right in with that," Mark rejoins.
And Nancy answers, "But you look so cute when you blush."
Mark attributes the success of the show and his popularity to the hard work that the "NCIS" crew put into the series.
"I think you'll find here that all these actors and people involved in this show are excited to be here number one. And number two, nobody's bored," he says. "There's nobody here really saying, 'Hey, what time do we get to go home?'"
A typical day on the set is 14 hours, down from the early seasons when a typical day was 18 hours.
"My wife [Pam Dawber] says I'm the only one who's excited in Hollywood about working a 14-hour day, but from where we came from, it's big progress."
It may sound like the "NCIS" set is all hard work, but that isn't the case. The cast and crew still manage to have fun along the way.
"I don't know how to do this unless you're having fun," Mark says. "You do the work, but you've got to enjoy it. And I've said for many years here that people who are here have to want to be here."
One of those people is Cote de Pablo, who plays Ziva David, a former Mossad agent, who is now an "NCIS" probie [on probabtion].
"He calls me Goat. What's up, Goat?," Cote tells Nancy.
And Mark doesn't deny it, saying, "Cote, the goat. That kind of goes together."
But nicknames aren't the only hijinks on the set. The day that Nancy was on hand, there was some monkeying around.
"Mark is really bad. Like today, we were doing a scene and instead of giving me an evidence bag, he gave me an evidence bag with a banana in it," Cote shares.
When Nancy calls Mark on it, he denies it with a smile, saying, "That's unprofessional."
"NCIS" airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. on CBS.