Every August we wait patiently for the latest DVD of the NCIS Los Angeles season compilation of episodes. As much as we look forward to receiving our very own copy of each episode, we also can’t wait to watch the inserted features called Extras that come with the DVD package. Different highlights from the season are presented with behind the scene activity that we aren’t always privy to and the insights during the episode commentaries are illuminating and usually a whole lot of fun to listen to especially if Olsen and Ruah are behind the mikes. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up the latest season four edition, here are some of the highlights to enjoy:
Finally! We get to watch some of the unsung heroes who work their magic behind the scenes and make this such a first class show. It was nice to see the sound technicians we met on our set visit last year and hear them talk about their job on screen. Dave Schneider was one of the first people we were introduced to and he was as warm and funny as he was portrayed in this feature and very passionate when talking about his job. Dave and his colleagues are creative geniuses when it comes to their craft. It was interesting to hear about the mechanics behind their jobs in particular how important sound quality is to all shows. It’s incredible to find out some of the tricks of the trade like where they can creatively hide the mics on the actors’ person!
We take for granted what these men do because they do it so well…but it can be an incredibly hard job. As Chris O’Donnell said, it’s a complicated process the way they mike us and boom the actors. People don’t think about sound being that important because they are always concentrating on the visuals but when there is poor sound quality it can make all the difference in the quality of the show. So here’s to the masters of sound! Eric Christian Olson’s tribute to Dave at the end was actually hysterical and made the feature shine. Hopefully they will highlight a different part of the crew in future season dvd extras.
Chris at the Helm
Wanted was one of our favorite episodes of season four and to have Chris O’Donnell direct this episode was a treat. Chris enthusiastically talks about what a learning experience it was for him. His team mates have nothing but praise for his directorial debut and how much they enjoyed working with him at the helm. You can tell how proud they were of Chris’ efforts. It’s not an easy job but Chris was a natural and there was a comfort level for Chris having worked with everybody on the set for so long… he trusted that they would trust him to do a good job. There’s no surprise that Chris was confident and happy while directing…who wouldn’t be when you are directing the best show in the world? Chris understands the NCISLA world and he didn’t let it intimidate him; instead his enthusiasm and experience was evident in all the scenes and it was great to watch him enjoy his time behind the camera. We look forward to his next effort as director during season five.
Some Assembly Required
Shane Brennan takes us behind the scenes of the Red team’s home away from home: Lavern and Shirley. The two-part pilot was at its best when they were inside the trailers, living and working together as a team. It was a unique set, and not replicated anywhere else. It was fascinating to watch these transformer-like trailers come alive and how everything was designed to fold up/down and go. Creating the trailers and showing how they were designed was amazing…so much work went into making that set a reality. It was a challenge for Brennan’s team but they pulled it off. It was nice listening to members of the Red team again talking about their living quarters. Wish we could have had more time watching them interact on that set. It’s a shame the actual concept of Red Team was not as interesting as the elaborate Lavern and Shirley trailers. But who knows, maybe with a few tweaks, we may yet see the return of NCIS Red in the future.
Un4gettable Season 4 of NCIS Los Angeles
There are a lot of great memories here as we look back at season four highlights with the cast and crew. You realize how far the characters have come as you review the various storylines for the last year. The memories from season four can help keep you warm now while waiting for season five to begin…there’s everything here from Callen’s continued quest for family history; the discovery of Hetty’s collection of orphans; the introduction of Sam’s CIA operative spouse; Kensi becoming a weapons expert; Deeks learning how to communicate with Kensi; and Nell and Eric getting to work out in the field.
Some of the other highlights were Brennan’s description of Hetty which were heartwarming and insightful. It explains why we all love the grand dame of NCISLA. The love/hate relationship the audience has with Granger has developed even strong and has made him a more integral character within the team. You have to laugh when Barrett calls Eric the Don Knotts of NCISLA. How appropriate! The only thing that could make this feature complete would be a blooper reel. But of course our favorite actors would never be less than perfect when delivering their lines would they? (wink!)
Brennan feels the crew accomplished everything they set out to do this past season. We have to agree with LL Cool J that the energy is definitely still there and the show feels as exciting and fresh as when it premiered four years ago.
Season 4 DVD Commentaries
“Recruit” (4×2) – DVD Commentary with Renee Felice Smith and Barrett Foa
For the season 4 DVDs viewers are treated to not one, but two commentaries, including the first-ever by Renee Felice “The Hair” Smith and Barrett “The Jawline” Foa! Our favorite digital duo immediately entertain us by singing the opening theme! (Admit it, you do it too!)
Renee and Barrett behind the scenes during the shooting of Recruit by @ericcolsen
Barrett noted how he enjoys the Eric/Sam scenes because the characters are so different – and how scared Eric is of Sam. During the “Wolfram/Ununoctium” conversation Renee takes pride in how “sassy” Nell is with Eric. As they discuss other cast members, the conversation focuses on the free-wheeling improvisation of Eric Christian Olsen. The pair notes the tablets they are constantly holding get a bit heavy to the point Barrett thinks he’s getting carpal tunnel syndrome.
During a well-known Densi scene, they ditto the thoughts of many:
Renee: They love the Touché.
Barrett: They like the Touché. There’s some Touché later too.
The Ops-based techies detail their love of the boatshed set, including Renee’s far-fetched desire for their own scuba scene with a notable entrance via the trap-door in the floor of interrogation! (Too bad Chris O’Donnell already had his own scene with this!)
As the scene featuring the techno-geeks in the field plays out we see the comedy brilliance of Barrett Foa, which soon turns to a nervous situation at the physical closeness of the ever-confident Nell. The two detail a depth in the scene too often overlooked in their regular quirky portrayal of these characters. To our great surprise, this scene wasn’t even originally scripted; it was added later when the episode was running short! Thank you, Fate!
Renee admits, “My favorite episodes are always the episodes that show more of our personal interactions with one another, rather than so focused on the crimes.” (We agree!)
As included in nearly every commentary for NCISLA, the inevitable discussion of Chris O’Donnell’s beautiful blue eyes are also a topic of conversation. Further, Renee makes note of a 2.5 minute music video (the amazing “Yo Mommy”) that took 16 hours to film.
Overall they provided the viewers with insights to the show and characters in a highly entertaining fashion. Let’s hope for future commentaries from Renee and Barrett!
“Wanted” (4×17) – DVD Commentary with Daniela Ruah and Eric Christian Olsen
In this third commentary by the (on- and off-screen) bantering duo, the amusement kicks off immediately as ECO introduces himself as “Aaron Christmas Elvis.” Connoisseurs of previous DR/ECO commentaries can easily predict and now expect the following: they will 1) forget or erroneously name a guest actor (even with a cheat sheet), 2) make reference to Portugal, and 3) mercilessly mock each other.
Daniela outs ECO for always working to get the last line of a scene, even if it’s not scripted. Defending his effort, ECO replies it’s his effort to make the scene funny (implying she can’t do the same?) Note this is not the first time she has called him on this or that he has questioned her comedic ability!
The issue of ECO and his accents is again noted. Even though Daniela doesn’t speak German, her efforts were better than ECO’s (even with a dialect coach). Thus, she had to keep prompting him on the pronunciation of the words. Daniela compounds the issue by reminding everyone of ECO’s (terrible) British accent from “Lone Wolf” (3×6) – the cross between Mary Poppins and Jack Sparrow. Again, ECO upholds his effort by explaining his accent was “too good”, so he had to botch it a little to make it realistic.
During the scenes with the CIA agents, DR & ECO admit they were “unleashed, like wild monkeys”. (One can only wonder how the original script compares to the televised version.) Soon Sam is tackling Sabatino to the ground and ECO makes an obvious statement, “Boom. God, I would not want to be that stunt guy.” (No kidding!)
They explain the extent of their improvisations and that it initially unsettled COD. Speaking of COD, just like in the Renee/Barrett commentary, the issue of COD’s eyes is again admired. Daniela confesses she had a poster of COD hanging on her wall in her youth!
As they engage in personal banter, Daniela tosses out a popular Densi term: “Touché”; ECO back-handedly compliments her knowing the appropriate use of the word. Daniela counters with, “Of course I do; I’m not an idiot.” ECO then questions if Kensi is an idiot; Daniela timidly admits, “Sometimes”.
The mocking progresses to a deeper, more personal level with Daniela stating ECO has “no emotions… . I am convinced that Eric is a sociopath, because he mimics emotion; he doesn’t actually have it.” (What?!) Next they offer up a pile of their patented “Really”s.
Then we arrive at the Turkish bathhouse. Daniela asks if he’s sporting a “muffin top”. (Wow. Seriously?!) This naturally takes them to the references of ECO doing push-ups before certain scenes; this was a hot topic on the “Neighborhood Watch” (3×22) commentary as well. ECO’s explanation of this scene and COD’s direction is remarkable, such that it must be viewed/heard to be fully appreciated. A golden moment of the commentary is when Daniela reveals ECO’s dog-like, wet headshake was indeed improvised, which only resulted in a genuine reaction from Daniela! Genius!
As disclosed in previous interviews, ECO declares his favorite Densi scene of the year is at the end of this episode. (So true – Sunshine & Gunpowder….) ECO easily outlines, it’s “heartbreaking and jealous and funny and it’s everything.” Daniela creatively wants to coin their famous phrase to create a perfume/cologne combination!
In wrapping the commentary they reiterate who they are, but using each other’s names, including Daniela uttering, “I’m Aaron Christmas Elvis”. (Hmm. An inside joke we need to get to the bottom of!) As we are accustomed, their natural interactions make their commentary a DVD favorite!
Pick up your copy of the NCISLA Season four DVD and have fun watching the Extras….you won’t be disappointed.