NCIS: Los Angeles – The Complete 3rd Season
Cast: Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J, Daniela Ruah, Eric Christian Olsen, Barrett Foa, Renee Felice Smith, Peter Cambor & Linda Hunt
Creator: Shane Brennan
New York University '00
"I don't think you're dumb... I just think at times you're under-exposed to information." -Murphy Brown
NCIS: Los Angeles – The Complete 3rd Season
Review By: Dan Deevy
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, there is no reason to dislike this show. NCIS: Los Angeles The Complete Third Season is jam packed with everything that we’ve come to expect from this fast paced, get the bad guy and have a few laughs along the way cop show.
This show literally has all of the ingredients for a successful hour long drama. Incredibly attractive cast? Check. Exciting shoot-outs? Check. Adrenaline fueled chase sequences? Check. Compelling relationships between the aforementioned hot cast members? Check. And finally, a wonderful sense of humor and feeling of family surrounding the whole thing? Check and double check!
All of the action, excitement and political intrigue aside, it’s always been the personal relationships between the team that makes this show so much fun to watch. Procedurals dramas like this one live and die by the chemistry of the cast and thankfully for the NCIS franchise, they struck gold when they put these actors together.
Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J are the center of this group and act as the “straight man” for the rest of our pairs more eccentric behavior; which is not to say that their relationship is uninteresting. In fact, a better analogy might be that they’re like the Mom and Dad of the group who, although they seem to always be in perfect agreement, have more than their share of fun squabbles.
Daniela Ruah and Eric Christian Olsen are of course the grown, but still young at heart kids in the family whose unparalleled banter and overt self-assuredness strives to hide their hope to one day be just like Mom and Dad. Barrett Foa and Renee Felice Smith are the younger, less athletic Brainiac kids of the family who know that what they bring to the table is just as important as what the rest of their hero clan does, but they also can’t help but to be a little jealous of their abilities. And finally, Linda Hunt is their wise grandmother who has tricks up her sleeve to spare and who commands respect, admiration, loyalty, an appropriate amount of fear and more than anything, love.
If the risk of being shot on a daily basis wasn’t so high it would be a family I’d love to be a part of!
The third season picks up right where season two left off with Hetty (Linda Hunt) off on her own and the team now in Romania against orders trying to find her and to unravel the mystery behind Agent Callen’s (Chris O’Donnell) past. I won’t give away what happens but believe me when I say this particular running storyline doesn’t come to an end with the season premiere. In fact, in continues throughout the season and into a cross-over event with the series, Hawaii Five-O in the episode Pa Make Loa (Touch of Death)
Another continuing thread that I’ve always said is one of the best of the show is the continuing flirtation between Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) and Kensi (Daniela Ruah). This is definitely one of those situations where I hope they keep them apart just so that this playful ‘I love you, you love me but neither of us will admit to it,’ thing can continue for a much longer amount of time. Once they are together they’ll be perfect and then at that point the only way to do anything story wise will be to kill one of them, and we certainly don’t want that! So thankfully, the flirtation continues in season three and with any luck for many more seasons to come.
There’s also a burgeoning relationship between our tech wizards (and real life best friends) Eric Beale played by former Broadway star, Barrett Foa and Nell Jones played by Renee Felice Smith. The flirtation between these guys, who are generally hanging back in the office as the teams remote information finders, has always been present but not played with nearly as much as Deeks and Kensi. This year they ramp it up a slight notch which makes it finally seem like a possibility.
Unlike Deeks and Kensi though, this is one relationship I’d love to see consummated. I think making these guys a romantic couple would be adorable to watch. Although for Barrett and Renee it would probably be pretty weird for them to be locking lips on a weekly basis seeing as how in real life they are as close to brother and sister as you can get. But I do think with so many unrequited love themes flying around it would be a nice balance to finally have someone actually get together and be happy.
Season 1 star Peter Cambor returns as profiler Nate Getz in the episode Patriot Acts and throws a fun little wrench in the works of the potential Eric/Nell romance and ups that feeling of family. Even though his character never really worked as a constant presence he makes for a great drop in visitor.
This season doesn’t have as many stand out episodes as last season did but there are definitely a few. Crimeleon was the first one that really through me for a loop. Callen is pitted against a man who has been able to escape the authorities not once but twice before and who also manages to assume new identities in a way that they’ve never seen. Whenever your bullet proof hero comes up against the best of the best of the bad, you know you’re in for a great show
The continuing story arc of Sam (LL Cool J) promising to love a woman just to get her out of the Sudan to testify against her war lord brother is one of the more prominent ones that shows up a few times but to be honest, fell flat for me. I love Sam as a character but for some reason most of his continuing stories just don’t grab me enough for me to become truly invested.
Kensi, on the other hand, has something brewing all season that is quite the mystery that is only touched on a few times before the big Blye, K. Part 1 episode where it all comes to light. I definitely enjoyed the cat and mouse game they played with that story; also leading to a satisfying payoff at the end of the second part of the episode, Blye, K Part 2.
Sadly our man Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) doesn’t have any intriguing storylines that stretch throughout the season, but he is still the funniest, most relatable guy on screen. He’s also the guy you can tell is able to adlib his way through the ends of almost every non action scene he has. Eric is a super funny, witty guy who when he joined the show in the latter part of the first season really changed the entire dynamic and flow of the show for the better. I can’t imagine this show being successful without him. So note to the writers for next season, ‘Give him something BIG to play! We want more Deeks!’
Hands down one of the best episodes of the season is Vengeance, which deals with the death of a Naval Officer possibly at the hands of a Navy Seal team. This obviously hits Sam pretty close to home as he refuses to believe that fellow Navy Seals would be capable of murder. Ultimately, as the story progresses it becomes a moral dilemma where there is no clear cut right choice. No matter which path they take they have to betray something and there will be unavoidable dire consequences. This is an hour of television that challenges the viewer to make a choice and stand by it. I can imagine more than a few debates being waged in households all over the country after it first aired.
Vengeance also exemplifies the respect for our service men and women that is ever present on this show; and more than that it is an admiration that is true
The season finale is actually a two-parter entitled Sans Voir and it’s a top notch two hours of television filled with everything it needed to not only tie up a major arc of the season but also set up a cliffhanger that will forever change the nature of the series moving forward. I can’t wait to see what they do in season four.
The special features on this six disc set include a bunch of deleted scenes, a hysterical audio commentary track with stars Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah on a single episode, 6 very well produced featurettes, and the Hawaii Five-O crossover episode Pa Make Loa (Touch of Death).
Let’s start with the Hawaii Five-O episode. Since I’ve never seen this series before I was at first hesitant to watch it, but in order to follow the story on NCIS I really had no choice; which is a very clever marketing idea on their part I must say. But the truth is Five-O is the exact same show as NCIS: LA except with far less interesting characters and actors.
I know that procedural shows all follow the same format but this show frame for frame steals from NCIS: LA. I was completely bored until Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J showed up and breathed some much needed life and personality into the mess that was unfolding in front of me. So while the marketing ploy to bring new viewers to struggling shows by linking them to well liked successful ones is sound, it totally back fired here. I don’t feel the need to ever see another episode of Five-O ever again.
The featurettes are spread out on different discs with the first on disc 2 entitled Raise the Roof, which is interviews with the creator and set designer as they talk about the new sets that were built for this season including the gym, the armory and the firing range.
On disc 3 we have Dishing with Barrett and Renee which, as you would imagine, is the two actors sitting together giving viewers an inside view on things BUT what you’re not expecting is that they are answering the most obvious, typical lame questions ever asked. (I need to be hired for things like this to make them more interesting) Luckily this is a fun pair so they make it work but man seriously, CBS next time hire a real interviewer to ask the questions; trust me I’m available.
Disc 5 brings us Carmageddon which thankfully is NOT a feature all about the dumbest thing that’s happened (or not happened) in L.A. in a long time. It’s actually interviews with the cast and crew talking about all of the cars that are blown up throughout the series and how it’s all done.
And finally on Disc 6 we have Investigating Season 3 which is the traditional behind-the-scenes featurette that has a lot of cast interviews which are great and proves to be the best of the special features. And lastly, Surf and Turf which goes behind-the-scenes of the crossover episodes and ironically is more enjoyable than an episode of Hawaii Five-O.
This show is always a fun time and unlike most shows on the air now that rely on developing a continuing story with a new cliffhanger each week (which I love by the way) this is one show where you can just pop in and watch an hour episode and fully enjoy it without knowing all of the backstory. At the same time though, knowing the backstory just makes it that much better.
So if you haven’t seen the show before I’d honestly suggest picking up season 2 first as I think that is the series’ best season to date, but second to that is season 3. Either way, any season of NCIS: Los Angeles will be a sound investment that will not disappoint.