BANFF, Alta. -- The executive producer of top-rated "NCIS" says there's still a lot of fuel in the tank for a series that he describes as "comfort food" for fans.

Writers are preparing for the 11th season of the show that premiered on CBS on Sept. 23, 2003..

"NCIS" follows the exploits of Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs played by Mark Harmon and his team of fictional agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which conducts criminal investigations involving the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

It also stars Michael Weatherly, Sean Murray, Cote de Pablo, David McCallum and Pauley Perrette.

"I think it's comfort food. I think 'NCIS' provides humour and pathos and heart and suspense and action in a little package so that when people come home from work, take their shoes off and get ready for the next day it gives them something to look forward to with characters," said executive producer Gary Glasberg in an interview at the Banff World Media Festival.

Glasberg, whose credits include "Bones," "The Mentalist" and "Crossing Jordan," said everyone is pumped about the upcoming season.

"Once again I was very pleased to see that everyone came back and was raring to go and started throwing ideas and stories at me. It's a great group of writers and there's no end in sight."

Season 10 ended with Gibbs' team resigning to protect him from a Defence Department investigation and then jumps ahead four months, showing Gibbs aiming a sniper rifle at FBI agent Tobias Fornell played by Joe Spano. The scene fades to black, and then a gunshot is heard.

Glasberg said all will become clear in this season's first episode.

"There's a lot to explain from the finale in the season opener so we'll sort of be starting in September and looking back all the way to May and filling in the gap as to what happened in that four-month jump," he said.

"There will be flashbacks and sort of a current story as well so that when episode 2 of season 11 rolls around we will sort of be back on track again."

Glasberg said some fans are frustrated the simmering romance between Agent "Tony" DiNozzo (Weatherly) and Special Agent (former Mossad liaison officer) Ziva David (de Pablo) isn't progressing faster.

"The Tony-Ziva -- or Tiva relationship as a lot of our people refer to it -- I think we've made some real strides this season," Glasberg said.

"There are a lot of fans who would like to see that story advance much faster than we're doing it, but I firmly believe a little goes a long way and there are ways to tease it and to flirt that are just as significant and just as meaningful."

The Banff World Media Festival runs until Wednesday.