Movie Reviews

I'm Concerned About NCIS: Origins After Seeing Young Mike Franks & Gibbs Together For The First Time


  • NCIS: Origins
    faces challenges with recasting young Gibbs, needing to match Austin Stowell’s appearance and vibe to Mark Harmon’s iconic portrayal.
  • The prequel’s success depends on young Gibbs and Mike Franks, played by Kyle Schmid, effectively embodying their older counterparts.
  • While Schmid looks so much like Muse Watson’s original Franks, there’s still work to do with Stowell’s take on Gibbs.
  • NCIS: Origins
    must focus on wardrobe, grooming, and character study to ensure Stowell’s young Gibbs aligns with Harmon’s version.

The NCIS: Origins set image reveals the first look at young Mike Franks and young Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and I can’t help but be worried about the upcoming project. A couple of years after Mark Harmon walked away from the main NCIS series as Leroy Jethro Gibbs, he is slated to return for the prequel as its narrator and executive producer. CBS says that the idea for the show came from Harmons (including Sean Harmon), I’m convinced that the success of Young Sheldon, which has a similar story principle, was a factor in the offshoot being greenlit.

From a business and creative standpoint, I understand that CBS would want to further take advantage of Gibbs’ popularity. While the flagship series has officially moved on from him, Harmon’s character will forever be associated with the famed police procedural. The ’90s-set NCIS: Origins is their way to satiate fans’ continued interest in him. That said, it’s worth mentioning that doing a prequel comes with risks, especially since young Gibbs has been recast with Austin Stowell. Another familiar NCIS character in NCIS: Origins is Franks, who will be played by Kyle Schmid. Together, the success of the prequel hinges on them.

Sean Harmon originally played young Gibbs in NCIS.

NCIS: Origins’ Young Mike Franks Looks Like The Original (Young Gibbs Doesn’t)

Kyle Schmid Exudes Muse Watson’s Aura As NCIS’ Original Mike Franks

As the production starts for the next NCIS spinoff series, fresh behind-the-scenes content offers fans what to expect from the project. That’s exciting for me, as they also serve as a sneak peek at the process of making these shows, not to mention an update on how work is going with its release date nearing. Thanks to a series of Instagram posts from Mariel Molino, who plays a brand new character Special Agent Lala Dominguez, we are gifted with the first look at NCIS: Origins‘ Schmid as young Franks and Stowell as young Gibbs.

Unfortunately, instead of being excited about it, I find myself concerned about NCIS: Origins. Schmid looks incredible as the younger version of Watson’s character. Even the way he stood reminisced of the easy and confident energy that Franks exuded in NCIS. This somehow highlights how much more work is left for the show to do to make sure that Stowell’s young Gibbs will imbibe the same vibe as Harmon’s iteration. Considering that he was at the center of the flagship for almost two decades, it’s a bigger task, but they need to speed up the process given the show’s premiere.


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As filming starts, a new NCIS: Origins BTS image confirms that it has officially fixed its first mistake about Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

Why Austin Stowell’s Young Gibbs Appearance In NCIS: Origins Is So Tricky To Nail

Mark Harmon Played Gibbs In All Of NCIS’ ’90s Flashback Scenes

Leroy Jethro Gibbs looks serious in a convenience store in NCIS.

I’m not saying that Stowell will automatically be bad as young Gibbs in NCIS: Origins. Other factors would play into this, and it’s only fair that viewers reserve judgment until the show is finally out. That said, it’s also not lost on me that the prequel seems to have a lax approach when it comes to crafting Stowell’s look as Gibbs. It’s already facing an uphill climb selling this new version since Harmon starred in all the flashback scenes for the character during this period in the continuity.

Despite fully knowing this, NCIS: Origins‘ first promotional image still featured Stowell with an incorrect haircut, which I pointed out in a previous article. As a Marine, Gibbs always wore his hair short and clean. However, Stowell’s marketing image showed him with a quasi-mullet. Luckily, that’s already apprehended, as seen with the actor’s much shorter do in the behind-the-scenes images from the set of NCIS: Origins. Still, this should only be the start of his physical transformation, so he can properly sell the idea that he is the younger iteration of Harmon’s beloved character.


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How NCIS: Origins Can Address Its Young Gibbs Recasting Challenge

Luckily, There Are Ways To Properly Prepare Stowell To Take On Gibbs In NCIS: Origins

Gibbs firing his weapon on Air Force One in Yankee White NCIS

I know that Stowell’s recasting was inevitable. To be able to properly do the NCIS prequel, it needs a much younger actor to play its lead character. So at this point, NCIS: Origins needs to make the most out of the situation, and there are ways to do that. For starters, Stowell should look as closely as possible to Harmon. That means that everything that they can change, including wardrobe and grooming, must be similar to the established look for Gibbs during the ’90s.

NCIS: Origins also needs to emphasize Stowell capturing Gibbs’ overall vibe

Secondly, NCIS: Origins also needs to emphasize Stowell capturing Gibbs’ overall vibe. Schmid has said that Watson has been particularly helpful in terms of his preparation to play young Franks in the prequel. I believe that this has been a tremendous help in Schmid capturing the correct vibe for his character. Considering Harmon’s involvement in NCIS: Origins, it shouldn’t be difficult for Stowell to spend time with him to learn more about the character that he popularized.

NCIS Origins Temp Logo Poster

NCIS: Origins

Set before the original entry in the long-running procedural crime-drama franchise, NCIS: Origins takes place in the 1990s and follows a younger Leroy Gibbs at the beginning of his career. The series will focus more on Gibbs’ journey to becoming the star investigator he became in the original series and his relationships with past partners and colleagues.

Mark Harmon


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