Crime procedurals like NCIS are so much more than just the thing you watch four straight episodes of in the hospital waiting room while you wait to be admitted to the E.R. They’re also a great way to catch up with actors you haven’t seen in a while – folks who are probably doing fine thanks to the residuals from long-canceled sitcoms, but who might want to stretch their legs creatively with a day player role or two.
Today’s example: Patricia Richardson, best known for her work playing Jill Taylor – the long-suffering wife of Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor on the long-running sitcom Home Improvement. Over 200 episodes of all-American suburban tomfoolery made Richardson one of the most famous television actresses of her generation, but she still felt compelled to answer the phone when old lady NCIS came a-callin’.
Richardson only appeared on one episode of the unkillable crime series, guest starring in the Season 19 episode “Docked” back in 2021. When a man dies on a cruise ship — eliciting the jealousy of everyone else on board, if we correctly understand how cruises usually go down — his body is found by none other than McGee’s own mother-in-law, Judy, played by Richardson. As if it all wasn’t shocking enough already, Judy admits to totally having practiced kissing with the deceased – back before he was dead. This isn’t SVU.
All told, the 72-year-old performer has kept busy since the end of her Lifetime medical drama, Strong Medicine, back in 2005. Aside from a string of Hallmark movies, one- to two-episode guest runs on television series, and stage performances, she’s also served as a SAG-AFTRA board member, even running for president of the organization in 2015. Whether or not she’ll return to NCIS remains to be seen, though the law of large numbers dictates that everyone on Earth will eventually be on the show at least twice, given that it will still be running long after the sun burns out.