Throughout this series, I’ve avoided using the term “favorite.” It always seemed that just picking my favorites in any category would make the selection too easy. I thought it was more interesting to focus on something more nebulous that involved choosing the best or the most significant. But this week, that’s out the window. In my last Top 3 list, I’m indulging in my Top 3 Favorite Things about NCIS: Los Angeles.
As usual the list is meant to be Deeks or Densi-centric. If not, I’d have been a little tempted to mention the beautiful way the showrunners celebrate my home of Los Angeles with all their location filming, making it another character in a way that’s unlike any show I’ve ever seen.
The Top 3
But I stuck with Deeks and Densi. In reverse order of importance, my Top 3 is…
#3. Eric Christian Olsen’s chemistry
Sometimes when you pair up two actors, magic happens. Their individual acting may be fine, maybe even better than fine. But together, the chemistry between them just lights up the screen. Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah have such chemistry between them, which is why we’ve spent so much collective time celebrating all things Densi.
But Eric has amazing chemistry with nearly everyone who shares the screen with him. Just look at Deeks’ opposites-attract relationship with Sam Hanna. The subtle animosity that finally led to respect and affection between them even mirrored Densi’s growth over time. Right from the start, in their very first scenes together in “Hand-to-Hand,” we could see the chemistry between them. Then there are Eric’s amazing scenes with Linda Hunt. We know Linda’s a master actor, but Eric more than holds his own with her. I think they push each other to greatness, and the chemistry between them has been apparent from day one. We also see Eric’s chemistry on display with Miguel Ferrer, and with guest actors like Wesam Keesh (Ehsan in “Allegiance”), Ernie Reyes, Jr., or Michael Weatherly.
Eric described his approach to acting at the 2016 London Comicon: “My philosophy with acting is that you listen and you tell the truth.” His ability to play off of other actors, to react in a truthful way, is one of the things that makes him such a great actor, and one of the things that makes Deeks such a lovable and compelling character.
#2. The final scene in “Impact”
This scene made only two Top 3 lists (Scenes that Sum Up Densi and Densi Banter), but it’s so much more than the banter. For me it will always be an utterly perfect representation of Densi, and my favorite scene of the series. And I’m not the only one – Eric and Daniela both rate it as their favorite too.
Since I just wrote about it two weeks ago, there’s no need for me to ramble on again. Here’s how Eric beautifully described the scene at London Comicon:
That’s the crux of the show… two characters that are deeply flawed, deeply human. It’s the human experience, it’s the mortal coil. It’s two characters that have never found love before, they haven’t found comfort, they haven’t found safety. And somehow in this messed up world they find each other, and in that they find peace. And I think that’s the micro version of the macro version of what that relationship is and what the show is as a whole.
The episode is, shall we say, less than perfect. But this scene is flawless.
#1. Eric Christian Olsen’s range
In addition to fantastic chemistry, another aspect of Deeks’ personality that makes him such a compelling character is his incredible depth. In Season 2, his first full season on the show, it often seemed he’d been brought in primarily to provide much-needed comic relief. But then we began to find out about his traumatic childhood, and eventually about his dark past at LAPD. Eric is able to give us so many layers of emotions and history in this single character that he makes his sometimes silly, sometimes serious character make sense and feel realistic. Those layers also make him incredibly intriguing.
Deeks is hilarious thanks in no small part to Eric’s improv background. At the same time, he has such a dark side that it’s scary. Perhaps what’s most compelling about Eric’s portrayal is the way he shows us Deeks’ struggle to suppress that dark side. We see how much he hates the Max Gentry/Gordon Brandel side, and his struggle to be the best man he can is fascinating. Again at London Comicon, Eric talked about what it’s like to play this character:
And I look at my character… when you talk about two characters, especially mine, that was so much of a clown at the beginning… was brought in for kind of comedic elements, but then became a fully realized human that’s deeply flawed, with I think significant emotional scars and repercussions from his own milestones in his own childhood, that’s really fun to play.
It’s also fun to watch. Eric’s incredible range, his ability to play all these aspects so well, is yet another reason that Marty Deeks is one of the best characters on television.
Thanks for reading!
This feature has been a lot of fun to write, and your comments have made it all the funner. In fact, if I allowed myself a fourth entry in my Top 3 Favorite Things, it would be wikiDeeks readers. You are all the best! Thanks for reading and sharing your own Top 3’s, and please share your Top 3 Favorite Things in the Comments below. Oh, and have a wonderful summer!
Or, go back to last week’s Top 3, the Top 3 Episodes to Take to a Desert Island.