The Top 3 Most Wanted DVD Commentaries
One of the biggest treats for fans of Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah has been listening to their real life banter on one episode of each season’s DVD. They are just as entertaining in real life as Densi is on the show. In the last of three wish fulfillment Top 3’s, today we’ll name the Top 3 episodes for which we’d love to have a DVD Commentary.
The only rules here are that we’re talking about commentary from ECO and DR, not other members of the cast. Also keep in mind that we already have commentary from Season 2’s “Anonymous,” Season 3’s “Neighborhood Watch,” Season 4’s “Wanted”, Season 5’s “The Frozen Lake,” Season 6’s “Expiration Date,” and Season 7’s “Internal Affairs.”
The Top 3
I started with a Top 3 that was filled with Deeks-centric episodes, including “Plan B.” And while I’d pay to hear ECO’s commentary about his work in all such episodes, in the end I tried to keep my Top 3 slightly more Densi centric. After all, we’re talking about commentary from both Eric and Dani, so I felt I needed to choose episodes that gave them both something to talk about. I don’t think anyone will accuse me of choosing Kensi-centric episodes, but I did the best I could- there are just so many great Deeks scenes I would love to hear about! One other note- I excluded episodes from Season 8, since I’m still hopeful that we’ll have another vote for the S8 DVD.
In reverse order of importance, my Top 3 is…
#3. “The Debt”
I’d really like to hear commentary on “Plan B” but I think “The Debt,” written by Dave Kalstein, is more of an essential episode for Densi. Throughout this episode, I was very curious about what Kensi was thinking- What was going through her mind during her talk with Hetty? What did she want to say to Deeks when she thought he was fired? For Eric, he had to play Deeks’ pretend guilt well enough to convince both Kensi and the audience, but not so well that looking back on it, we wouldn’t see a few clues. How did he approach that?
I’d love to hear both of them discuss that good-bye scene. How many different takes were there? Did the editors choose the least emotional version as they’ve done in similar instances? I’d also like to know what it’s like to work with Patrick St. Esprit, who plays Lieutenant Bates. And of course, there’s also the little scene where Eric walks around on a building ledge 10 stories up. That’s gotta be something worth talking about, as is the explosion at the red sedan, one that both actors apparently got to film instead of their stunt doubles.
I debated between this and “Descent” since they both had some iconic scenes. I went with “Ascension,” written by Frank Military, for its two absolutely huge Densi scenes. I would love to hear Eric and Dani discuss the scene in the garage where Kensi abandons Deeks. What did Eric think was going through Deeks’ mind? How did Dani think Kensi was able to do what she needed to do? Then there’s the heartbreaking scene between them at the end. What is it like to film such emotional scenes? How many takes did they need? What’s the mood on set before something like this, or something like the hospital scene between Sam and Deeks? Speaking of that scene, how did Eric get to such an emotional place that he actually sheds a tear? What was it like to take on a scene like that with LL Cool J?
Also, I’m sure it would also be interesting to hear how they completed those initial action scenes around a pregnant Dani. And I’d also like to know if there are any funny stories about working with Christopher Lambert.
The place where the magic began. The introduction of Detective Marty Deeks, written by Matt Pyken. The day that changed Kensi’s life. Stuck, smitten, whatever. We all know that famous story of how Eric and Dani met at the table read for this episode, but what happened next? What was it like to work together? Did they know right away their apparent off-screen chemistry translated to the screen? What did they think during filming of that scene at Zuna’s house? What was Eric told about his character? We see a much more subdued Deeks than the version we got in Season 2. What was Eric trying to convey in the choices he made? And were Eric and Dani told that these two would definitely end up together? What was the plan at the time for what would grow into Densi?
We know that filming the MMA scenes with LL Cool J was not a walk in the park (for a glimpse, check out this video or this one featuring the real-life MMA fighters who worked as extras). But was that fight actually the first thing Eric filmed? How much pressure was he feeling to make a good impression? At this point, he was still trying out for a permanent role. I can’t imagine what he must have been feeling. I think that scene in the boatshed where it’s him against the team must have had a lot of real life parallels, and I’d love to hear about that experience for him.
And then there’s that final scene with Linda Hunt. What was their first work together like for Eric? What’s Linda’s approach to a scene like that? It must have been a real thrill for Eric and I’d love to hear more about it.
Also in the Running
This exercise has made me think how much fun it would be to have an additional commentary with Eric and/or Daniela along with the writer of the episode. These great writers would bring a whole other perspective to the discussion. Here are a few other episodes that made my semifinalists:
- “Plan B” (Dave Kalstein, Joseph C. Wilson)
- “Borderline” (R. Scott Gemmill)
- “Descent“ (Frank Military)
- “Spoils of War” (Frank Military)
- “SEAL Hunter” (Sara Servi, Frank Military)
- “The Seventh Child” (Frank Military)
- “An Unlocked Mind” (Frank Military)
- “Impact” (R. Scott Gemmill)
We’re going to spend the next couple of weeks on the funny, starting with a look at one of Deeks’ special skills. We’ll discuss his Top 3 Uses of Humor to Defuse Tension. In the meantime, what are your Top 3 episodes deserving a DVD commentary? Tell us about them in the Comments below.
Or, return to the last Top 3, the Top 3 Missing Scenes.
Good choices! And I’m going to steal from your list.
Impact. Yes! I’d love to hear how ECO prepared for PTSD. The scenes with Nate. The last wonderful Densi scene. And what his thoughts are on Hetty scary the crap out of someone with PTSD.
Spoils of War. The scenes thinking Kensi was dead. Seeing her alive in the prisoner exchange. Seeing her looking at her ex-fiance and not him and then finally holding her as she broke down. The waterboarding. Rescuing the team. The interesting exchange between Hetty and Sam about leaving Deeks behind. Commentary please!
Ascension/Descent combo. Commentary on the relationship with Sam from not trusting him because he’s different to the final fantastic words in the hospital to saving Sam’s life (again). Getting the nerve up or just plain sick and tired of Kensi complaining (incorrectly IMHO) that Deeks doesn’t communicate. Being left twice — to hold up Michelle’s cover and then in the hospital.
Since I’m having a wish list here, I’d also have them include ALL the table reads of every episode every season. I just want a tiny hidden camera with audio all the time. I don’t ask for much.
peakae, I love your questions. And yes! We should have table reads to every episode. I’ve often wondered about the table read of that Season 2 episode that’s on the DVD, where Shane Brennan narrates and they cut back and forth from the actual episode to the table read. Relatively little of Eric Christian Olsen’s reading is shown (they cut to the episode instead) and I’ve always theorized that it’s because he improvised so much of his dialog that the original script he read that day didn’t match. I would love to see how much of that kind of thing happens.
My picks are Personal, Free Ride and An Unlocked Mind.
Great picks! Free Ride is underrated. Definitely one of my favorites.
I like your picks though I might swap out “The Seventh Child” for “Ascension”.
What I’d like the show to add, however, is one episode where the writer and director provide info for the episode. “The X-Files” would always do that. I remember hearing one of the “Bones” pilot where the producers spoke about the little touches that the actors added to make the characters their own from day one. Give me the director talking about working an episode with Linda Hunt and some crazy car chase or explosion. Let me hear a writer talk about Linda Hunt or LL Cool J saying their words. I’m into process. I want to hear everyone’s opinion on what’s going on.
Tess you know I love process as much as you do. I would love to hear especially from the writer, although hearing about the booms would be fun too. What single episode would you most want to hear from the writer about? Maybe Shane Brennan on “Hand to Hand”? Hmmm, maybe this needs to be a future Top 3 topic.
If I have to choose from your Top 3, it would be “Ascension” since there would be compelling narration from both ECO & DR. If I get to pick my own, then hands-down, no question, it’s Impact. To hear ECO get in the head of Deeks’ very dark place and his own preparation, not to mention the ending glorious-Gemmill scene. Sigh.
If I leaned toward the Kensi side of things, it would still be Impact and the Blye K eps.
Of the ones we did get, Anonymous & Neighborhood Watch are probably my fave, as this is where we were really gifted with insight into these two actors and their interactions with each other and relationship to their characters. I felt like it was a “seeing behind the curtain” to the Wizard! Yet, there’s also a very special place in my heart for the commentary of Internal Affairs (for very selfish reasons!)
Gayle of course you get to pick your own! And I would really enjoy the Blye K eps. I left them off the list only because I didn’t see them as quite Deeksy enough, but they’re great.
I was blown away by Spoils of War – the writing, the acting, the editing, but especially the writing; it was fabulous, Frank Miltary! So much was packed into 45 minutes – incredible – and every single minute was top-notch. Definitely a show to be proud of.
Yes Laurel, this would make for a really interesting commentary!
I agree with your three choices even though I would add others. But I make a particular request here, would anyone know the title of the play played on the guitar at the end of “Impact”, it’s so much I’m looking for.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqFMO6qXay4 Give up the Ghost by Rosi Golan.
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