Talk about a fun event! This past Sunday, April 10th, 2022, marked the 3rd appearance of NCIS: Los Angeles at Paleyfest LA. The Dolby Theater in Hollywood once again played home to the Paley Center for Media’s annual event. Not only was I lucky enough to be able to drive in from Phoenix, Arizona to attend the panel, but I also got to meet some of my fellow wikiDeeks friends for the first time. It was great to listen to our cast and to cheer on our favorite television team as a group!!
A Salute to the NCIS Universe
This year’s panel was a little different than the two previous Paleyfest events. This year, the event was split between the three current franchises of the NCIS Universe. Each show got approximately 40 minutes of stage time. After questions and discussions with the cast and showrunners of NCIS: Hawaii, followed by the original NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles got to “headline” and close the show! Nischelle Turner (co-host of Entertainment Tonight) moderated each panel.
Since the panel time was shared between the shows, unlike in the past, we were not privy to an upcoming episode of each program. Instead, each show started its portion of the panel with a 5-8 minute highlight reel, showcasing moments across all their seasons. All three felt like extended movie trailers and were very entertaining introductions to the series across the franchise. I do hope they might appear elsewhere in the future.
After each highlight reel, the casts and showrunners were introduced as they entered the stage.
And then the interrogations began! To the boatshed! (Just kidding!)
It was really great to see all the casts assembled in person. I will admit, I’m not as familiar with the other shows as I am Los Angeles but it was nice to listen to the questions about each show. Each person on stage had a question directed at them to answer, and then other cast members would chime in and add to the conversations.
All three shows were questioned about the possibility of an epic all-show crossover. And all three responded with some variation of “We’d love to, but the logistics are difficult in planning something like that”. While I appreciate them saying this and understand it can be hard, all the other big networks seem to manage it just fine for their larger franchises approximately once EVERY YEAR. But hopefully, now that it’s been mentioned to all three of them at the same time, with the excitement from the audience at the possibility, maybe they’ll honestly attempt it in the 2022-2023 season. We want to see the Avengers assemble! (a comparison made in multiple responses to this question).
Save the Best for Last
After sitting patiently through the first two groups, I was bouncing in my seat by the time the lights dimmed for the highlight reel for NCIS: Los Angeles. It was an amazing overview of the show from its backdoor pilot to the most recent episodes. Each character had a little section that focused on them, while still being about the team as a whole. It highlighted happy moments, sad moments, funny moments, action moments. I really hope they release it either on the DVD or somewhere in the future.
Differing Depictions of Family
I’m going to try to remember and sum up these questions as best I can!
The first two questions were directed at LL and Chris. LL was asked about Sam being depicted as the family man on the show, which he discussed, also mentioning the current arc dealing with his father’s health issues. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but at one point he caused everyone, including Dani and Eric, to bust up laughing:
Chris was asked about Callen’s ever-evolving search for truth in his life, and which part was most interesting to him. He said the fact that he’s gone so long in his life not knowing, and is still learning new things about his own history, his family, his own self. Nischelle then asked Scott Gemmill if we were going to get more pieces to his puzzle, and while he talked about how much fun they’re having exploring these puzzles, Chris interjected, “they keep making new puzzle pieces. We thought it was a 500-piece puzzle, turns out it’s 1000!” “And there are 4 pieces missing,” Gemmill added with a laugh. They then spoke a bit about Chris and LL’s producing collaboration Come Dance with Me, which premiered on April 15th.
“That’s a real partner”
Then the questions shifted over to Daniela and Eric, where the interview started getting crazy fun! They began by talking about Daniela’s recent ventures into the directing world. Asked if she’d always wanted to direct, she began to answer, but as she did, her microphone started to pop. She paused to see if it’d fix itself, and when it didn’t, she leaned over to Eric stating, “I’ll speak into his chest then!” After we all laughed, she pulled back to answer the question, but the mic kept crackling. Eric then unclipped his own microphone and held it out for her to speak into until one of the audio crew could replace her microphone. “That’s a real partner,” she said gratefully. Then, as the gentleman walked away, Eric struggled to put his mic back on, which the crewman assisted with as well. But it was all very sweet.
Daniela spoke about how making the jump to directing was mostly a matter of opportunity, but felt that learning with the family she already works with and knows so well made for an excellent learning ground, and was a great place to get her foothold in the directing world.
Eric was asked about his role as a writer. He mentioned how he sees what the writers do each week, and how trying to do it himself has given him a whole new appreciation for the craft. How they build the characters and write the action and the drama and themes of each episode.
Nischelle began to ask Eric and Daniela about their collaborated episode, series episode 299 (airing May 1st). Chris said, “it’s a family affair!” which got a laugh, but then Eric chose this moment to say, “I just want to point out, that in Chris’s lap is the Masters”. Chris then held up his phone, where he was indeed keeping his eye on the end of the Masters golf tournament.
He stated he thought they were joking when they told him when their Paleyfest panel was. “It’s my favorite hour of the year! It’s like Christmas morning! So I’m with you, but I’m watching too.”
Shifting back to Episode 299 (Which we have since learned is titled “Live Free or Die Standing”), Daniela began to summarize the plot. Eric started trying to correct her, to which she said, “Then you tell it!” Eric began talking about the episode’s themes, how knowingly making a bad decision can make you the villain in the story, but choosing to change that path and make a good decision can turn you into the hero.
There was a lot of talking over each other at this point, and Nischelle asked, “How do you guys get any work done?” and everyone laughed, “We don’t!”
The TV Veteran and the Rookies
The next questions went to Gerald McRaney, known as Mac casually. He was asked about his favorite episode so far. And he said his favorite one was “Fukushu” (S13E02), and its themes of battling against Asian hate crimes. He told us how it really hit home for him, as his father had worked with soldiers in WWII whose families had been interred, and often spoke about how unjust the situation was.
Referring to Gerald’s extensive television history, the next question asked what drew him to working on NCIS: Los Angeles. He said he likes the precision with which they operate. “As soon as I get through the gates at Paramount, I smile. Because I know I’m in for a good day.”
Medalion and Caleb were up next, and they spoke about the ways they try to make sure their characters are examples of positive representation on television. How they bring a needed diversity and different points of view and life experiences. Caleb spoke about being the new guy on the show, and how he was used to that coming from a big family.
The night of Paleyfest was the night the episode “Perception” (S13E15) aired, so there was discussion about bringing real-world storylines like racial profiling to life on screen, and trying to play them authentically but not talking down at people either. Everyone was very proud of the work in the episode.
A Little Bit of Everything Else
Nischelle then circled back to Chris, asking if he was ever surprised by what he sees in the scripts. He says he likes that the writers have seemed to pick up on the way he and LL interact in real life, and they write that as part of the characters’ voices. LL appreciated the comedic tones, and how they can lighten up a dark script, and attributed that to Gemmill’s vision. Dani jumped in, agreeing that Gemmill doesn’t say no to ideas, he just says “Try it”. He lets them play with things, and that helps to make the show better.
Everyone died with laughter on stage when Nischelle told Gemmill “We need a three-way.” That slip of tongue referenced the want of a full NCIS universe crossover. He said they have already been talking about the idea for the upcoming season, and “if it doesn’t happen it won’t be for lack of trying.” The entire cast seemed very ready to head to Hawaii on CBS’s dime!
I Only Wish It Were Longer!
Sitting and watching this event at Paleyfest 2022 was a dream come true. Getting to see my favorite cast live and in person was the best! Getting to meet some of my wikiDeeks friends like Karen P and Kitty (who also provided some of the pictures – credit to them)- made the experience even better! Thanks for letting me tell you all about Paleyfest 2022. I can’t wait to finish out this season with you guys, and see what happens with Season 14!
Some more pictures from the evening (slide thru to see them all!):