Category Archives: In the Bullpen

What’s in the Box? In the Bullpen with Phillydi


Ever since Deeks tried to clandestinely sneak a peek inside the box delivered to Kensi’s desk in the episode Kill House (4X12), many a Densi fan has been speculating on what could possibly be in this innocent, four-sided cardboard container. It’s been the brunt of many jokes on and off the show but like Deeks, we still want to know…. What’s in the Box?   NCISLA Magazine decided we should put together our own think tank and invited two well known Densi fanfic writers, Imahistorian and Sweet Lu, to join us in a roundtable discussion to share their thoughts on the always electrically charged partnership. Before we try to come up with a list of what’s hidden in the box, we decided to take a step back to review the past year regarding Kensi and Deeks’ relationship and what we see in the future for our dynamic duo. Please note this discussion took place before the episode, Wanted (4X17).

Phillydi (PD):  Before we talk about the infamous box…. What’s been going with the Densi relationship since Neighborhood Watch last year?

Imahistorian (IM):  I think it’s just been more of the same.  I don’t think there’s been a strong deepening of their relationship. Not from what we’re seeing, although there is always the ability for us to see otherwise.  They have been undercover a few times, but as we have seen on the screen their partnership is still evolving.  I don’t think the show is going to let it go a whole lot faster than what we are seeing.

Sweet Lu (SL):   What’s interesting is that they are still doing that sexual innuendo with their banter like “she’s thinking about me in the shower” but it’s also as if they have taken a step back.

IM:  I was also thinking that!  That they went too far and now we’ve got to back up a little.

SL:  With the fish tank episode he says that he was on a date this weekend, so obviously he is not sitting around and pining away for her.  I don’t know what they are doing.  I’m with Imahistorian that they are letting them play out as partners and as much as we want to see them get beyond that, I don’t think it’s going to happen this season unless there is something coming when they go into the woods together! She’s constantly holding up bras between History and Neighborhood Watch.  I don’t know what that’s all about?!

PD:  It seems like it’s always one sided because if anyone is trying to start something it’s him because I looked at Kensi’s face when he said he went out on a date and she had no reaction.  So what’s going on here?

SL: In the Debt when Hetty asks her if she wants something more and she remains silent and then the same thing happens with that Astrid girl when she asks if Kensi is in love with her partner and she says nothing. So you can read anything into that that you want to. With the box thing it’s just this big empty box and you can put anything in there that you want as a fan fiction reader or if you are just watching the show. You can make it anything you want…it’s a blank slate.

PD:  I was watching Kill House again, and did you notice the box has a This Way Up tag on it?  So whatever is in there needs to be right side up.

SL:  Maybe it’s a large cactus!

PD:  Dave posted the picture of the box and asked what’s in the box that got everybody going and it was played throughout the whole episode and now we just found out the box is going to make a return.  The return of the box!  Deeks comes in and finds the box on his desk.

SL:  So then maybe it’s not a cactus?!

IM:  Sweet Lu and I watched this episode together in person and we both had reactions to the box and I automatically decided that it really didn’t matter what was in it.  Because Deeks wants to know what’s in it and they talk about how it’s not going to change anything with that conversation in the car.  I don’t think it physically matters what’s inside the box.  It could be a metaphor for their romantic relationship or it could not be a metaphor but to me that’s what it sounded like.  “The Box” is Kensi and Deeks as more than partners.

SL:  I actually went back to transcribe it because I couldn’t remember the whole conversation in the car about the box and where she says “What’s to say it won’t be a big disappointment?”  That’s kind of an interesting statement if you are reading something more into it as a metaphor.

IM:  I think it means that television has a whole idea about the whole Moonlighting curse where if they bring an unrequited couple together it ruins the chemistry and there is nowhere for it to go…so I took the statement “What’s to say it won’t be a big disappointment” to mean what’s to say their love, their relationship, their feelings together as a couple wouldn’t be a big disappointment.

SL:  I mentioned to Imahistorian that when I saw it the second time, I kind of thought that Deeks was talking for the audience, for the viewers and Kensi was talking for writers.   To me when Deeks asks what’s in the box and she says ‘no the stakes are too high’ they don’t want to blow it.   The stakes are high for who?  The ratings?…for them?…not necessarily for us.  He says ‘You know it’s not going to change anything’, and she says, ‘We’re still talking about the box, right?’

IM:  Exactly!

PD: So it’s almost tongue in cheek.  They are talking to us from a sidebar.

SL:  Then there is the whole opening scene where everybody keeps saying it’s none of your damn business so are the writers and Shane Brennan telling us to back off it’s none of our damn business!  That’s true!

IM:  That is true because we’re fans and we may want to see things happen but they are the ones who write the show and they are the ones who get to say what the characters do and how they behave.  We want them to stay true to the characters they have set up and they generally do a very good job of that but at the same time they see the fan reactions on line and there is a mixture of excitement that they get so wrapped up in it and get so emotionally involved that sometimes they probably just want to be left alone to write.

SL:  Like Kalstein says, “Hell has no fury like a Densi fan scorned!”

IM:  That’s true of any fandom where you have romantic interaction and they become very possessive and that’s a good thing…that’s what they want which makes it fun for the fans.

SL:  Absolutely.  It keeps us coming back every week to see if there is a small glimmer of hope that he will get to kiss somebody.  I don’t care who he kisses as long as it’s a woman!

IM:  I care who he kisses…I want him to kiss Kensi!  But I don’t want it to be too soon.

SL:  You want it to be meaningful when it happens.

IM: Yes, and this is just me.  They are great as partners but they are both very mistrusting in many ways….

SL:  You know what was interesting to me in the opening scene of Kill House where Sam is saying, no more secrets, let’s all be one for all and all for one.  I don’t know what they are going for there.


IM:  I thought that scene was weird too.  Here was a guy who freaked out when Eric replaced his office chair and now he’s taking over Deeks desk and I thought ‘Wow, Sam is turning over a new leaf!”

SL:  I don’t know if they were saying they were going to do more of these scenes where they are working more as a unit instead of just partners because I thought that was the strongest part of that episode where they were all working together.  There is a different dynamic when they are all together like that.

PD:  I think Sam was predicting what was going to happen when they go into the kill house for the first time where they separate and they fail in the mission and I think it was Dave setting us up for what’s going to happen….

SL:  Well it was Callen’s command that had them separate, so it was all his fault!

PD:  Going back to the box…. How about the last line in the car, where he says I think you sent the box to yourself so we can have this conversation.

SL:  That’s interesting too.  I wrote that down…”You’re diabolical!”

IM:  I don’t think Kensi is a terribly direct person so she is not likely to sit down and say ‘ok, let’s talk about what’s going on between us’.

SL:  She’s afraid to and after the birthday fiasco.

PD:  So now we have the box returning…other than the cactus, do we have any ideas of what’s going to show up inside?

SL:  You know he’s going to open it…this is Deeks and he’s going to go crazy if it’s sitting on his desk.

IM:  Oh God, yes.  If it shows up on his desk and it’s at work and maybe I’m reading too much into this but I don’t know if it’s going to have deeper meaning because I don’t see Kensi doing something that publically.

SL:  And why does it take her so long too.  If it was a birthday present she would have done it the next day.  If it’s for him why didn’t she give it to him in that episode?  Why take it home?  I think they are taunting us.

IM:  I think there might be a little cat and mouse thing going on here and it could be all of nothing…I honestly don’t know.

SL:  At this stage, maybe there is nothing in it.  It comes all the way back to they are playing with our minds as usual.  But I do have a questions about the new show….Do you remember that episode where Deeks wasn’t  on it at all and Granger told Kensi to start thinking about her future…do you think they are going to try and recruit her for that group.

IM:  I think there is a distinct possibility that they might make that offer to her.

SL:  So then she has to decide.

IM:  I honestly don’t think Kensi, the character or the actress is leaving the show…but it might be an interesting story plot.

SL:  Right, there is a plot in there and I don’t know if it will force Deeks’ hand or not if they did that…but that whole episode felt like a set up for me for some future episode.

IM:  It could be Deeks’ who is offered to join this new undercover team!

PD:  I’m really wondering what that whole conversation between Hetty and Granger was all about…regarding Deeks’ future.

IM: That’ why that makes me wonder if the conversation with Granger means that Deeks might be offered the position with the Red Team?

SL:  Do you really think he respects Deeks and likes him?  I don’t.

IM:  I don’t know…I wouldn’t have said yes awhile back but I find Granger to be a difficult character to read.  When I think he’s a terrible guy, he does something that is marginally ok even though I don’t trust him so it’s hard for me to know what he thinks.

SL:  Well I killed him off in my latest story so you know what I think!

IM:  I don’t buy him as a good guy because he has done too many things where he has gone too far past the line to be redeemed.

SL:  He’s a bureaucratic, political character that ruffles some feathers and has his own agenda and in that scene where he and Hetty are speaking and she warns him not to get Deeks hurt that means to me that he is going to send him on some undercover op that doesn’t include the team….isn’t that what you got from that?

IM:  I think it’s definitely possible.  They are definitely laying the foundation, laying down the possibility.

SL:  I’m still surprised he wasn’t in the episode at all.  I thought that was strange.

PD:  That was strange, because I didn’t hear of anything Eric Christian Olsen was doing outside of the show that week when it was filmed, like he couldn’t be there.

SL: I’ve seen some behind the scenes photographs that show him on the set.  But he wasn’t in the show…so I don’t know if they had a scene with him and they cut it?  It’s a mystery!  Probably in that box!  Wouldn’t it be great if he opened that box and there would be nothing in it… empty?


PD:  You never know with Kensi.

SL:  You never know with Shane Brennan and Dave Kalstein!

PD:  It is interesting that Kalstein is not writing the new Red crossover episode but the box is important enough to make a return in this episode.

SL:  I thought it was interesting where Kalstein said he writes all the action and the drama parts and then he puts in all the funny parts later.

PD:  Have you guys read that blog about Deeks getting killed off?

IM:  I don’t buy that for a second.

SL:  Why would they think he was dying?

IM:  Someone was interpreting the fish tank scene where the fish that was Deeks was somewhat sickly and seeing the possibility that Deeks was going to be exiting the show.  Then Eric Christian Olsen retweeted that blog and didn’t comment one way or the other….but there is no way that will happen.  But it’s somebody’s theory and it has just as much validity as the box being a metaphor of their relationship!!

SL:  They are not going to get rid of him.

PD:  The other part of the blog mentioned getting rid of Deeks and bring in Nell as a field agent to work with alongside Kensi as a partner.

SL:  No, no, no, no, no!

IM:  I think they realize the chemistry they have with the actors. The thing that always impressed me about NCIS Los Angeles is that whenever they had an issue or a deficit in terms of chemistry like with Dom and Kensi in the first season…they took steps to change things up and make it different.  The actor playing Dom, although there was nothing wrong with him, he was good but the chemistry wasn’t there.  At first Kensi was a marginal character and they said ok, we need something different.  In the first season of a new television show (to do that) was a real interesting move and I have to give them credit for making the hard decisions.  And bringing in Deeks was a hard decision at the time.  So I don’t think now they would decide to get rid of him.

SL:  No they are not going to get rid of him.  It was like that first season when they said they were going to kill Hetty.

IM:  Oh, Hetty is always at death’s door!  A couple of times she has been shot or going to be killed and she jumps back pretty well.

PD:  Teflon Hetty!

SL:  This hasn’t been my favorite season so far, but I’m hanging in there because I like these characters,  I think they are great characters and I want to see what happens and if it comes in increments that’s fine with me.  You want it to go on for a long time.  It’s like writing a story; you don’t want it to just rush to the end.  It’s the journey…it’s always the journey.  They are very slow in developing these characters…I mean there is so much we don’t know about Deeks.  We know a whole lot about Kensi after last year and we are going to know a whole lot more about Sam after this year.  Callen is the only one they haven’t spent much time on this year.

IM:  The only time we find out about Callen is the beginning of the season and the end of the season!  I do agree with Sweet Lu it’s the journey that’s important…and I think it’s the journey that makes it’s meaningful.  It’s going to take a while partly because they want the show to go on…it’s realistic for people to take time, especially because of the kind of characters that these are.  They are trying to come together and work together.  I’m content to continue to go along with it and see how meaningful it becomes.

SL: We all think of seeing Kensi and Deek’s relationship in a sexual way and anticipating that’s the way it’s going to go.  Imahistorian and I talked about on Free Ride, where on the aircraft carrier Deeks falls out of the garbage can and  Kensi is trying to help him up and then the scene is over and gone.  If they have a scene where they can either comfort each other or hug each other or something that shows more of a personal connection than just partners, I think people would grasp on to that and the fans would say, “Great, they are closer because they are at least touching each other and she’s not punching him!”  Something that is a bit more tender between then and then I think the fans would be happy with that.

PD:  I totally agree…all we want are little moments.  I definitely don’t want to see a huge, blown out love affair because then it’s over and done and gone.  I definitely don’t want to see that and anyway that’s what fan fiction is for!  We can always get that fix by reading fan fics. But on the show, I don’t want to see that at all.

SL:  And I think in any relationship in real life it takes time and if you are at a working relationship it takes even more time especially in their line of work where they are going out there and shooting bad guys everyday…..they don’t have a lot of time to get intimate with each other right away….plus these are closed off, damaged people.   All of them except for maybe Sam.  So, they don’t open up to each other and that’s why I thought the conversation that Sam had at the beginning …no more secrets, all for one and one for all was an interesting idea.  It made me wonder are they going to start revealing some personal aspects of these characters so that we can delve a little deeper about who they are and what’s happen to them in their lives.

IM:  I agree with that.

SL:  Especially Deeks…we only really know a few things about him.

PD:  Oh, I think we can spend a whole season talking about Deeks.  There are so many layers to that character.

SL:  I’m sure he will get an arc some season, maybe the next one.  There’s always next year!

PD:  Yes, there is!  Thanks for joining us guys!  Let’s do it again!


It looks like the famous box will have a recurring role in the fourth season when it finds its way over to Deeks’ desk during the NCIS Red crossover episodes. After last week’s episode, Wanted was aired, Densi fans were amazed and delighted that there was some movement in the relationship.  Much more than we have had in a long time.      Deeks was shocked to see concern and emotion come from Kensi.  He was so use to Kensi hiding all her feelings that he was a bit stunned at the end and mesmerized at how she smelled like sunshine and gunpowder.  So what does this mean in terms of the box?  Is Kensi really softening towards Deeks?  Now Shaun Brennan will take the baton from Dave Kalstein and continue what will probably go down in Densi lore. Will it reveal absolutely nothing of interest to the shaggy detective or will we be shocked and awed at the contents inside. The bigger question is like Pandora’s Box before it…do we really want to open that box and find out what’s inside?  What chaos will it lead to?  If you are like Deeks you may just need to know regardless of the consequences.  What conclusion have you come to?  We want you to join us in our discussion and let us know what you think is in the box and where it could lead our favorite agents.  Big thanks to Imahistorian and Sweet Lu for taking the time and joining us for this fun-filled  discussion!

Exclusive Article

NCISLA Magazine Visits Set of NCIS Los Angeles – Part Two –

sindee & Diane at Paramount Lot Stage 8&9 Entrance ©sindee

sindee & Diane at Paramount Lot Stage 8&9 Entrance ©sindee

In Part One on Tuesday, I described what it was like to visit the Paramount Studio sets of NCIS Los Angeles.  After getting a tour of the lot, we were escorted into Studios 8 & 9 to visit the home of NCISLA.  The first floor of the Mission was amazing and we had a chance to visit all the iconic places that we watched every week on our TV screen.  It was time to explore the top floor of Ops and as we walked up the tile floor, sindee and I tried to act very nonchalant but things were getting exciting.  As we stood in front of the entrance to Ops my eyes were as big as platters.  Standing around the Ops table was the rest of the cast waiting for the scene to begin.  We were encouraged to get up as close as possible to watch the scene being filmed.  Well, you didn’t have to tell me twice!  I stood in the doorway but quickly realized that if I didn’t pay attention, I was going to bump right into Linda Hunt who was standing a foot  in front of me waiting for her entrance.  She really is very small and petite and obviously very cold as she was bundled in a long winter coat to keep warm.

The scene began as Chris O’Donnell walked into Ops to assume his place around the table.  The director, Steven DePaul called for action and we watched as the cast recited their lines from a unique camera angle.  Cut! We watched again as the same scene was filmed from a new angle.  It was fascinating to see the controlled chaos revolving around us.  Makeup and hair artists scurried around the cast, technicians adjusted the lightening and prop masters put final touches on the set in between every take.

After a couple of takes, the members of the cast took a break and walked out of Ops.  Suddenly I was surprised to see Eric Christian Olsen standing directly in front of me holding his hand out to say hello!  Daniela Ruah and LL were close behind and we were delighted when Daniela welcomed us both with a huge hug!  Chris joined them and we talked about how far we had traveled and Chris and Daniela thanked us for the special mugs we had created for each of the cast from the magazine covers.

sindee & Diane with Eric Christian Olsen ©sindee

sindee & Diane with Eric Christian Olsen ©sindee

Before we knew it they were all called back into Ops to start filming again and Erin ushered us into a small area to continue watching the filming from a room that was built for the director and the other tech crew.  The room was filled with multiple monitors that would capture the cast from all different angles.  While there we had a chance to talk to Stephen DePaul (director), Diana Valentine (script supervisor), Brook Stenstrom (hair) and Chris Burgoyne (makeup) and a number of other technical staff who were constantly walking in and out of the room.  It was a joy to talk to them all about their job and it was so amazing how warm and welcoming they all were towards us.

sindee & Diane with Barrett Foa & Chris O'Donnell ©sindee

sindee & Diane with Barrett Foa & Chris O’Donnell ©sindee

We still had some more fun waiting for us when we heard Eric Christian Olsen calling for us from down the hall.  We asked if  he would take some pictures with us and  Eric entertained us with stories about his really bad German accent in Beerfest (“Towards the end of the film, I sounded more Jamaican than German!”).  Barrett Foa stopped by to say hi and luckily we had a chance to take a great picture with him and Chris before we had to leave.  Unfortunately, we never did get to say hello to Renee Felice Smith (who was very busy in Ops) which was very disappointing but she sent us a very sweet tweet later to say hello.

Our final stop as we left the sound stage was outside in front of the front doors of the Mission.  We noticed the condemned sign was missing, but we stopped to imagine Sam or Callen’s cars parked outside of these two giant doors.  The space seemed smaller than it looks on screen but there have been some fun scenes filmed at this location especially the episode where Callen replaces Sam’s lost Charlene with a new Challenger.  Great memories!  It was a fitting ending to our visit.

sindee & Diane "outside" NCISLA Mission ©sincee

sindee & Diane “outside” NCISLA Mission ©sindee

The day was almost complete…but not yet!  There was still one more special person we were looking forward to meet but he was missing in action!  Dave Kalstein was on a set location visit and wouldn’t be returning to Paramount until 4 pm.  Erin assured us if we could hang around a bit more he would like to meet us.  How could we say no?!  We had some lunch at the commissary, walked around the gift store and sat outside in the warm LA breeze to wait for Dave to join us.  Before long we saw Dave walking up to greet us with a surprise guest in tow….Rafael Kayanan!  What a treat to meet both Dave and Rafael and be able to sit down and talk to them about our visit and this wonderful show that we all have come to love so much.  We talked about the new spin-off and about what made the franchise so successful and why it was so well- loved by all the fans.  After signing a copy of his book for us to auction off for the ASPCA and a script for me to cherish, there were hugs all around and it was time to go.

sindee & Diane with Dave Kalstein & Rafael Kayanan

sindee & Diane with Dave Kalstein & Rafael Kayanan ©sindee

Mark Harmon's Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame ©sindee

Mark Harmon’s Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame ©sindee

Two days later we completed our NCIS pilgrimage by walking to Hollywood and Vine in  search of Mark Harmon’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Harmon received the 2,482nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 1, 2012.  After taking the obligatory picture of Mark’s special star, we wondered if  one day we would see an NCISLA star sharing that same honor.  Fingers crossed!

What can I say?  It was a fairy-tale week from start to finish.  It took days for me to finally grasp all that happen on that visit.  It was really very surreal and hard to comprehend that we got to visit with all these special people.  A big thank you goes out to all the cast and crew for making our time in Los Angeles so memorable and enchanting.  You guys are the best!

NCISLA Magazine Visits Set of NCIS Los Angeles – Part One –

It was the opportunity of a lifetime. A chance to fly out to Los Angeles and meet the cast and crew of NCIS Los Angeles!  My partner in crime, sindee and I had just launched a new online site which was an off shoot of her very popular NCISLA Fan Blog.  With an idea to make the new site look and feel different with original material and information coming out 24/7 we worked long and hard to create what was to become NCISLA Magazine.  The new site was unveiled at the beginning of September and we were very proud of the results… but what would the NCISLA team think?

Our site visit was set for the beginning of November.  Although I had lived in the San Francisco Bay area years ago, this was my first trip to Los Angeles.  sindee and her husband, Mark were old pros, having visited the City of Angels many times in the past, so they graciously acted as my tour guide on this trip.  On the first day we visited many tourist hot spots that also happen to be some of the great location sites used on many episodes for the show.  It was fun exploring the famous Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, Marina del Rey and Hollywood Boulevard which were all iconic tourist sites but I was seeing them all through NCISLA eyes.  “Look, that’s where Callen ran up the escalators… Deeks and Kensi were walking on this side of the pier… That’s where Sam parked his Challenger!” Not exactly highlights in the LA Michelin guide book, but definitely a thrill for me to see for the first time.


NCISLA “Touch of Death” (3×21) Location ©sindee

The day before the site visit we received an invitation to visit Eric Linden (Chris O’Donnell’s stunt double) at his studio Action Factory Stunts. Eric and his fellow stuntmen were busy that day working out the choreography for a new video they were scheduled to shoot with Sam & Niko, the creators of several famous short films as Corridor Digital.  It was fascinating and revealing time spent learning about the craft and how much work goes into one small part of a video.  Eric and Joe Fidler took us through some of the fight choreography that they had been working on and Eric explained all the preparation and safety precautions that are used for each scene.  It was such an enjoyable and informative day and we really want to thank Eric for inviting us to visit!   (More on Action Factory Stunts in a future edition of NCISLA Magazine when we sit down with Eric Linden for an interview regarding his work on the show and his life as a stunt artist.)

The evening before our visit to the NCISLA set reminded me of the night before Christmas when I was 6 years old and waiting for Santa Clause to come down the chimney!  I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep.  I was finally going to meet a group of people who I have admired for their ability to entertain and bring so much enjoyment to their fans. I knew it was going to be a day I would never forget!

sindee and I set off mid-morning for Paramount Studios.  Our contact was Erin, Shane Brennan’s assistant and she was meeting us once we got through the gates of the studio. Erin took us for a walking tour of the famed Paramount studio complex and despite the extreme heat that day, I was mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the myriad of employers going about their business on this magical piece of land.  We passed city facades, makeup trailers and Forrest Gump’s bench (yes, the real one used in the movie!) until we finally stood in front of Studios 8 & 9. The door that led us to the magical world of NCIS Los Angeles was very unassuming.  But once we entered, we were greeted by a huge wall filled with a promotional portrait of Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J. This has got to be the place!

Paramount Lot Stage 8&9 Entrance ©sindee

Paramount Lot Stage 8&9 Entrance ©sindee

Erin led us into a very cold but refreshing sound stage with food carts, extras buried in their e-readers and carpenters building new sets.  I didn’t know what to look at first.  Our first set we walked into was the gym and weapons range.  Directly next to that was the arsenal.  I expected things to appear different but I was surprised how everything was exactly the way it looked on the TV screen.  Most of the set was in dim lighting but we had a chance to walk around and explore the nooks and corners of the rooms.  Next was the interior of the boathouse and it was fun to find all the places you don’t get to see as you watch the show.  We knew what was down the hall and couldn’t wait to enter the interrogation room.  How cool was this??!! sindee and I took turns pretending to be our favorite NCIS agents grilling the bad guy on the other side of the table.  We definitely felt like two kids let loose in a candy shop.  What a thrill!

It was time to go to Stage 9 where the cast and crew would be filming a scene from episode 11 (Drive) in the Ops center.  Before we walked on the set, we met some of the sound crew including Adam Key (@artwercadam) who gave us our headsets.  As we entered the hallowed halls of the Mission, I couldn’t stop smiling.  As much as I was looking forward to meeting the cast and crew, I was humbled to be standing right smack dab in the middle of the Mission!  It was an amazing experience.  As I got to walk around Hetty’s office examining her wonderful knick-knacks, I was in NCISLA heaven!  The details of her office are seared into my mind.  So many dramatic scenes and amusing conversations at her desk raced through my mind at the same time.  Some of the best scenes from the show took place in this eclectic office of memories.

Hetty's Office ©sindee

Hetty’s Office ©sindee

We walked out of Hetty’s office and into the bullpen and my first stop had to be Deeks’ desk.  Compared to his fellow agent’s desks, his area looked very neat and organized.  Hmmm… looks like Deeks’ was holding out on us!  Kensi’s desk on the other hand, was filled with clutter and silly knick-knacks, Sam had a collection of his origami creations lined up neatly in a row and I still smile every time I remember the bottle of aspirins on Callen’s desk.  The desk tops were all so typical of the characters who sat behind them.

After a tour of the Mission’s wardrobe room and the tech center we began our trip up the stairs to Ops.  Everything had been very quiet to this point.  We got to meet a number of crew members taking care of business on the first floor of the Mission but it wasn’t until we climbed the stairs that we could feel the energy starting to swirl.  As we reached the top of the stairs, support crew lined the wall waiting to be called to do their jobs but our attention was turned to the bright lights emanating from Ops.  And who should we see sitting outside of Ops and studying his script but Chris O’Donnell!  If we had been amazed by what we saw on the first floor of the mission… we hadn’t seen anything yet!

Find out more on Wednesday when I reveal what happen next on our set visit to the set of NCIS Los Angeles! [EDIT: Find Part Two here…]

A Chat With Dave Kalstein In the Bullpen with Phillydi

NCISLA Magazine is very excited to kick off a fund raising campaign for the ASPCA with our very first auction item on EBay.  If you are a Dave Kalstein fan (and I know there are a lot of you out there!), we have a signed copy of his book Prodigy!  This is a must for your collection if you are a fan and enjoy the stories Dave has penned for the show over the last 3+ years. My colleague, sindee and I were excited to meet Dave a few weeks ago at Paramount Studios where he graciously signed a copy of his book for the campaign.

Right after our set visit on the studio lot three weeks ago, we had a chance to sit down with Dave and talk shop about our favorite show.   Dave wanted to know how the fans were reacting to the news of the new spin off. He assured us he wanted to continue working with the NCISLA team, which is where his heart and soul resides. We responded that the fans, for the most part were taking a wait and see attitude but showing some real interest in the new series.

We also shared why so many fans stay invested in the show year after year. We agreed that the enormous popularity of NCIS Los Angeles came down to one reason and that was the individual characters and their backstory. Dave shared with us that Shane Brennan called the show a series of small moments between the characters. I agree. It’s not so much the plot or storyline every week that is so important but it’s what’s happening to Callen, Sam, Kensi, Deeks, Hetty, Eric and Nell that brings us back week after week for more. We want to know if Callen is ever going to find out more about his family or will Sam be able to work alongside his wife again and is there a romantic future in store for Densi? Of course, we love finding out more about Hetty’s exotic background and watching what makes being a geek so cool with Eric and Nell.

I remember watching The Job during season two (written by Dave Kalstein), when I first realized how important these small moments were. Remember at the very end of the episode?  We see Kensi and Deeks sitting down together on the sofa, clinking Coronas and comforting each other after a long, hard day on the job. I remember thinking, “He likes her, look (pointing at TV)… he really likes her!” As a viewer, I was privy to a special moment and recognized what was happening before the characters even did!  Kensi and Deeks may not have been too sure that a love story was about to unfold, but as the camera pulled back, there was a connection between this man and woman that sparkled on screen and that’s when the magic happened. That was just one small example of why we love these characters so much.  As long as NCISLA keeps playing to the characters’ strengths, their fan base will always be there for them.

So, come on all you Dave Kalstein fans… open up your pockets and fire up your keyboards and help us raise money for this worthy cause to prevent animal abuse and cruelty. Go to the home page and click on Charity Auction.  We want to raise a total of $2000 (or more!) by the time we have our 2013 NCISLA Familia meet up in Los Angeles on October 13 & 14. There will be a number of other auctions coming up throughout the year to help us reach our goal, so stay tuned and bid, bid, bid!

Happy Times with Charlene and Why Sam Still Misses Her by Phillydi

In 1970, Sam Hanna’s dad bought a brand new Dodge Challenger right off the line. This started a love affair between the man and the muscle car that has lasted until this day.  It’s the reason why he still drives one today.  But there was a unique Challenger Sam found later in life that he lovingly restored to perfection and named Charlene.  It was this car that held a special place in Sam’s heart.  So when the car was suddenly stolen one night, Sam was devastated and depressed…. although he would never come out and admit it to his concerned partner!

At first he thought his colleagues were playing a prank on him (Deeks being the first to one to be blamed, of course!).  As he grilled the team and strong-armed Eric to find his beloved Challenger, Callen became concerned that his partner was becoming more and more depressed and put out an APB to find the stolen car.  For Deeks it was just a car, something to get from point A to point B.  But as Kensi tried to explain to her indifferent partner, it was not just any car!  Oh, no!  It had a V8 Magnum and a 4 barrel carburetor with dual exhausts!  Truly a work of art and a car that defined the term swagger.

What is the mystery behind this iconic car that certainly beguiled our tough special agent and made a name for itself in the automotive industry?  NCIS:LA Magazine goes back in time to discover the origins of Sam’s beloved car, and find out why it became one of the most sought after collector cars today!

It all goes back to 1959 when the first Challenger called the Silver Challenger came off the assembly line.  Later Chrysler made three different generations of a new muscle car called the Dodge Challengers with the first being produced in 1970.   That’s when the new ‘pony’ car came into its own.  ‘Pony’ was the term used for all muscle cars that were out to compete against the Ford Mustang.  Chrysler wanted its new car to be the biggest and the best pony car out there.  The new Challenger shared its components with the Plymouth Barracuda but it was more than able to stand up next to the Mustang and Camaro’s of the day.  Chrysler also wanted its new upstart to be able to compete with the Cougar which was a more luxurious and expensive pony model.  So they designed the Challenger with a longer wheel base, larger dimensions and a more luxurious interior.  The base price on the car started at $4,480 in 1970.  Not exactly inexpensive when you started adding all the bells and whistles that made the car so sought after.

In 1970 more than 76,000 cars were produced by Chrysler.  The Dodge Challenger was among the fastest and wildest cars on the market and it created its own culture and buzz.  Although the muscle car was well-received by the public, the press was not so kind.  It was criticized for some of it drawbacks like poor outward visibility and feeling too bulky for its size.  Yet, despite its drawbacks, the 1970 Dodge Challenger is still prized by collectors today and one in mint condition can go for over $80,000 on the resale market.

By 1974 sales had fallen off and Chrysler ceased production, although Dodge resumed production later, the car is still selling over 28,000 models each year.

Kensi’s description of Sam’s Charlene may the DC T/A (Trans-Am) model.  It was a racing homologation car which Dodge built to race in the Sports Car Club of America.  There were less than 2500 of these models made.

The Challenger certainly has a unique personality much like many of its owners, including Sam Hanna. It’s a muscle car that has stood the test of time making it one of the alpha cars of its generation. Strong and imposing, the 1970 Challenger was an impressive car that turned heads.  Luckily for Sam, Callen couldn’t stand to see his friend suffer any longer over his loss and spent his rainy day fund to buy him another Challenger (Deeks:  With copious amounts of potential!) that Sam will once again restore and begin a whole new love affair with.  What name will Sam christen his new Challenger?  Callen suggested Jennifer but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  Sam may never know Charlene’s fate (and Nell and Eric will never tell!), but it’s for sure he will never forget her.  Long live Charlene!