NCIS: Los Angeles

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The protagonists of NCIS: LA, in the throes of their bromance, take an undercover assignment at the Bethesda Naval Hospital posing as Navy doctors.

“Why are there so many motherfuckin letters in that motherfuckin name”
~ Samuel L. Jackson on NCIS: LA's uncharacteristically long acronym title
“It's like the Navy investigating criminals”
“They spelt CSI wrong!”
“They should give my JAG character a cameo in this thing. It's not like I'm really doing anything these days.”
~ David James Elliott

NCIS: Los Angeles is a spinoff of NCIS meant primarily to be an advertisement for huge touchscreen computers, but supposedly concerning the bromance between Special Agent Sam Hanna (played by Donald Faison) and Special Agent John Callen (played by Zack Braff), both of whom operate out of the NCIS office in Los Angeles. Abby from NCIS visits regularly.

You know how the original NCIS does that annoying thing with the switching to black and white? They decided for this show to turn that up a notch by showing several black and white stills instead of just one, and to take the images from all over the place in the storyline. Although most of the show is shot in HD, half the opening credits were shot on a 1-megapixel camera from the 1990s, namely, the lower half of the screen. It's quite an achievement, actually, blending the footage from the crappy camera with that of the HD camera.

The idea of taking the basic premise of a show to a different city is hardly new. The first show to do it was CSI, which was immediately followed by The L Word (with such spin-offs as The L Word: New York and The L Word: Salt Lake City). Law & Order too has decided to do their first city spin-off, also choosing Los Angeles for the city.

edit Characters

edit Sam Hanna

Sam (Donald Faison) is an old high school buddy of Callen. They went to college together, then Sam became a Navy SEAL. After leaving the SEALs to work at NCIS, he was reunited with Callen. Sam speaks and reads Klingon, using it to assist the team with translation and conversation when dealing with Klingon intel, though that doesn't happen all that often. Also he's very good at shooting his gun while falling down diagonally, like in a John Woo film.

When Sam Hanna enlisted in the Navy, he couldn't swim, because he was scared of the water. But after listening to Whitney Houston's latest album, he overcame his fear. This was established in that episode where Callen pretended to be a counterfeiter.

edit John Callen

After high school, Callen (Zach Braff) worked for the Border Patrol. After leaving the Border Patrol to work at NCIS, he was reunited with Donald Faison. For some reason, Callen can speak Russian and has a foster sister, as revealed in last night's episode. Callen can't drive. Under an alias, he went to traffic school and flunked.

He has a very troubled past. He often eats bananas to calm himself, and also in part because he has a strong tendency to constipation. Callen once served with his good friend Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who is now working with the NCIS Headquarters in Washington, D.C. However, Tony was very jealous of Callen, who wanted to transfer to Los Angeles anyway.

Anyhoo, about the troubled past: it's even worse than it being "troubled": Callen's past is a mystery to himself. He was such a troublemaker as a kid that he was bounced from one foster home to another, and in so doing all information about his true origin became lost in the mists of time... well, more like lost in a bureaucracy. There was a guy in a recent episode who could tell Callen how to unravel the entire mystery, but since they want the show to run for at least another six years, Callen had to shoot the guy and kill him so as to drag out the search.

edit Kensi Blye

A character created at the behest of the network executives eager to appeal to males 18 to 39. Donald Bellisario wanted Catherine Bell for the role, but realized that Bell now looks old enough to be a Lieutenant Colonel in real life, so they went with Daniela Ruah instead.

Kensi came from a Marine family and still drives up to Camp Pendleton Marine Base every weekend, hoping to get laid. She is fluent in Pig Latin, can read lips and knows Morse code. She collects shoes and is known to have a collection larger than those of Imelda Marcos and Carrie Bradshaw combined. Her father was found dead and unrecognizable so they had to use dental records. Her favorite movie is Glitter with Mariah Carey, which she was seeing with her friends while her father was murdered and which she still considers one of the milestones of cinematic achievement in the 20th century.

edit Dominic Vaile

An at-risk youth eager for Sam to be his father figure. That is, until he got lost a couple of episodes back. In real life, he's renegotiating his contract, so his character is taking a break in the meantime. Played by Adam Jamal Craig.

Oh, he came back in last night's episode. They decided to kill his character off. He was chained to a pipe for months and when he finally escaped he was too weak to outrun all the bullets from the terrorists.

edit Hetty Lange


Hetty Lange in the NCIS Los Angeles office.

Is she the Boss? I'm not sure. She might be. She certainly acts like it, sort of a female Napoleon Bonaparte. No, actually, she is the grandmother of both Callen and Sam, but neither of them knows it. She knows it, but she's forgotten which of her children are the parents. The actress is Linda Hunt.

Hetty survives on a diet of paper and tea, which is why she's always bugging Sam and Callen to file their paperwork.

She's easily the most interesting character in the entire show. Did we mention she's rather short?

Believe it or not, she once had a one-night stand with John F. Kennedy, and also with Ronald Reagan (but the latter when he was still an actor). On separate occasions, of course, just to be clear, you know. She also accompanied Phileas Fogg for part of his journey around the world in 80 days.

edit Abby Sciuto

She racks up so many frequent flyer miles jet-setting between D. C. and L. A., that Gibbs is starting to wonder whether Abby might in fact be yet another persona of Hannah Montana. Played of course by Anna Impossible on both shows; apparently she was the only regular cast member from the original show willing to put in a few more hours for guest spots on the new show.

edit Episodes

In the NCIS episode "Legend," Sam and Callen investigate Leroy Jethro Gibbs for the murder of another blonde, pregnant Navy lieutenant.

edit Season 1: 2009-2010

  1. Identity, 9/22/2009. Callen's back from the hospital after a ball reattachment procedure.
  2. The Only Easy Day, 9/29/2009. Callen and Sam take it easy with some pot brownies at the director's house.
  3. Predator, 10/6/2009. Still at the director's house, Sam and Callen watch War Games and recite all the lines.
  4. Search and Destroy, 10/14/2009. Sam gets into an argument with a Marine over whether the Navy's just a glorified taxi for the Corps.
  5. Killshot, 10/20/2009. The director's gay lover seeks asylum in America.
  6. Keepin' It Real, 11/3/2009. Callen and Sam host a pool party.
  7. Pushback, 11/10/2009. Something about Russians.
  8. I kind of stopped watching the show for a few months.
  9. ...
  10. Then there was the Fast and the Furious rip-off episode, in which a sailor installed a Naval battery on a souped-up car for street racing and died.
  11. Stopped watching again.
  12. ...
  13. Oh, the one where they find Dominic alive and well—scratch that, just alive.
  14. Hetty tenders her letter of resignation for the twentieth time. As per usual, it doesn't get processed and she keeps coming in to work.
  15. The NCIS staff is forced to shut down their computers after a security breach. Thank goodness they still have their guns, otherwise they would be completely lost. Oh, and Callen has to shoot a guy who could clear up the mystery of his past.

edit Season 2: 2010 - 2011

Since NCIS: Los Angeles is supposedly America's #1 new drama, a second season appears inevitable. The new season promises to drag out the search for information on Callen's past well into at least the third season.

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