The legendary Bob Newhart took on an unexpected role on Tuesday’s “NCIS” as Dr. Walter Magnus, who preceded David McCallum‘s character, Ducky, as Chief Medical Examiner for the service. 81-year-old Newhart, who we’ve become accustomed to seeing in comedic parts, was seen in a different light as Magnus, an aging doctor who revisits his old workplace to try to jog his rapidly failing memory.
Newhart, who says that Mark Harmon helped him to set the more poignant tone for the episode, first took on a dramatic role on “E.R.” He was nominated for an Emmy for the three-episode arc in 2003. “”That was John Wells’ idea,” Newhart tells TV Guide. “There was nothing
in my previous history to suggest I could carry that off, but he felt I
could. That was a guy with macular degeneration who worked with his
hands and wound up killing himself. That’s something I could never
consider, having four kids and nine grandkids and loving life, but I
could understand how this guy got there. In this script, it’s a similar
thing, with a guy who had to give up what he loves.”
Newhart took the role in part because “NCIS” is his wife, Ginnie’s favorite show, but he didn’t have to be persuaded much. “If you can pick and choose, why not go with the No. 1 drama on TV?” he says.
Weigh in, Zap2it readers. What did you think of Newhart’s role as the perpetually befuddled Dr. Magnus?