On October 11, at five o’clock in the evening, excitement filled the Lindbergh room of the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys, California, as twenty three people suspended “real life” for just a little while, officially kicking off the 2013 NCISLA Familia Meet Up. Stepping through the doors of the meeting room, it was obvious that much thought and preparation had gone into making this a very special event.
Schedules for the weekend, personalized badges for each attendee, and blue Magazine wristbands had been carefully arranged on the entrance table. Each person received a glossy 8X10 Special Edition Magazine cover, with a “Peanuts” style illustration of the NCIS: LA characters. Memorabilia, including a recording of the show’s soundtrack, was given away in a drawing later that night. A display on one of the walls served as a backdrop for picture taking, with the available option of holding a sign with the name of your favorite character. And as an extra treat, copies of a story, written by Gina Callen, were distributed; a cute little fic where the NCIS Los Angeles team is dispatched to the Airtel Plaza Hotel to investigate a suspicious gathering of people, a group calling themselves “LA Familia.”
Meeting our delightful Magazine creator/editor, her husband, and her dear mother, renewing old friendships, making new ones, putting faces to Twitter and Fan Fiction names, meeting online friends for the very first time – the room buzzed with contagious energy! And at every break, conversations erupted on everything from favorite moments in the show, to what rental car was being driven this weekend. It was amazing to watch people, whose ages spanned several generations, from different geographical regions, and with varying backgrounds and occupations, instantly bond together as a “family.”
The fun and laughter continued when Bridget, equipped with dozens of Tootsie Pop wrappers, presented a lesson in origami. Only one set of written instructions proved to make this project all the more hilarious! Our brave instructor started out at one table, but quickly moved to another where a participant was yelling, at the top of her lungs, that she was ‘perceptually challenged.’ Some folded the paper like pros, some were truly perceptually challenged, beginning with the wrapper upside-down and having to start over. But in the end, most of the creations closely resembled swans – Sam would be proud. And it was no surprise that the recurring question of the hour was, “Is that a frog?”
The final event of the evening was the table read. CBS was generous enough to provide everyone a copy of the script, including deleted scenes, for the season opener, “Ascension.” Each person drew for the character they would portray, scripts were distributed, pens and highlighters were whipped out, and everyone got down to the business of flipping through the fifty plus pages, reading and marking their lines. The tables were then arranged in the shape of a horseshoe, and in the fashion of our favorite cast, each person took their seat for the table read. Being commissioned with Shane Brennan’s role as narrator, Keviana charged full steam ahead, skillfully leading the “actors” into the story. (This narrator, however, took an occasional ad lib liberty, particularly when she thought it necessary to warn the group of imminent gruesomeness.) The fact that this episode was so powerful, and had recently aired, just added to the excitement. And having our three favorite villains in the mix, Javnier, Vaziri, and Sidorov, was an added bonus. Time seemed to stand still as scene after scene was described, and the actors’ lines were read. An hour later, the final scene “faded to black,” and the mock table read came to an end. The group had not yet come down from the emotional high, when sindee pulled another surprise from her magic carpet bag. The participants who had read the parts for the regular cast were presented a script cover page that had been signed by the corresponding actor. Frank Military, the writer of this particular episode, had even autographed one of the pages, cleverly drawing an arrow from his signature to his name as it appeared in the credits. As the night’s events concluded, the common thought was, This just keeps getting better and better!