NCIS: Los Angeles is an American action television series combining elements of the military drama and police procedural genres, which premiered on the CBS network on September 22, 2009. The series follows the exploits of the Los Angeles-based Office of Special Projects (OSP), an elite division of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service that specializes in undercover assignments.

NCIS: Los Angeles is the first spin-off of the successful series NCIS. On March 25, 2016, CBS renewed the series for an eighth season, which is set to premiere on October 2, 2016.

Premise

NCIS: Los Angeles follows Special Agent G. Callen (Chris O'Donnell), a "legend" assigned to the fictional Naval Criminal Investigative Service branch known as the Office of Special Projects (OSP). Callen leads an elite team of undercover operatives as they battle enemies both foreign and domestic under the watchful eye of Operational Manager Henrietta Lange (Linda Hunt). The team is composed of Agent Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah), a hand-to-hand combat specialist and forensic whiz, Sam Hanna (LL Cool J), a former Navy Seal and G's partner, and technical analyst Eric Beale (Barrett Foa).

Over the course of the series, the team are assisted by allies from both NCIS and its local counterparts, including LAPD liaison officer Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), Intelligence Analyst Nell Jones (Renee Felice Smith), Operational Psychologist Nate Getz (Peter Cambor), and rookie field agent Dominic Vail (Adam Jamal Craig), all of whom work side-by-side with NCIS Assistant Director Owen Granger (Miguel Ferrer), a laconic agent and skilled bureaucrat.

Cast and characters

Main cast

ActorCharacterSeasons
1234567
Chris O'DonnellG. CallenMain
Peter CamborNate GetzMainRecurring
Daniela RuahKensi BlyeMain
Adam Jamal CraigDominic VailMainN/A
LL Cool JSam HannaMain
Linda HuntHetty LangeMain
Barrett FoaEric BealeMain
Eric Christian OlsenMarty DeeksRecurringMain
Renée Felice SmithNell JonesN/AMain
Miguel FerrerOwen GrangerN/ARecurringMain

Note: Adam Jamal Craig playing rookie field agent Dominic Vail was credited as a regular through the first dozen episodes of season one, but was subsequently written out of the show, and the character was killed in episode 21.

Main characters

  • G. Callen (Chris O'Donnell) (birthname Grisha Aleksandrovich Nikolaev) is the Lead Senior Special Agent and undercover operative attached to the NCIS Office of Special Projects. He speaks several languages fluently, including Russian. Callen is a highly skilled field agent having worked numerous overseas undercover assignments. Placed in the foster system at a young age, G. does not know his first name but is determined to find out about his family, and in turn, himself. As G. lives somewhat of a nomadic nature, Los Angeles is G's most stable home. He is partnered with Sam Hanna.
  • Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah) is the daughter of a Marine and the only female Special Agent attached to OSP. Her father died at a young age, after which Kensi spent some time living on the streets. Estranged from her mother, Kensi is a skilled undercover operative and sniper who is not afraid to use her sexuality to get results. She is romantically linked to partner Marty Deeks.
  • Nate Getz (Peter Cambor) is an Operational Psychologist originally attached to OSP in order to monitor the team's emotional well-being. Valued as both an agent and a doctor, Getz is later drafted to a deep cover operation and subsequently becomes a well-established field agent. Despite his career change, Getz still returns to Los Angeles when needed.
  • Dominic Vail (Adam Jamal Craig) is a probationary agent and a technical specialist who was assigned to OSP straight out of training. He is partnered with Kensi and seen as a sort of younger brother to the other team members; NCIS Los Angeles is left devastated when, following a period as a missing person, Dom is assassinated during his own rescue mission.
  • Sam Hanna (LL Cool J) is the team's Senior Field Agent and G's partner. Sam has the most stable home life of the team as he is married with children. He met his wife on the job and still lives for the thrill of undercover work. He is a former Navy SEAL, an expert on Middle Eastern culture, and speaks fluent Arabic, and as such he not only provides invaluable insight on cases involving the USMC and USN, but also on cases involving ethnicity.
  • Henrietta "Hetty" Lange (Linda Hunt) is a Supervisory Special Agent and the team's Operational Manager. As a veteran undercover operative, Hetty has achieved an unbelievable amount during her life, with distinguished work as an overseas intelligence operative during the Cold War. During her younger years, she took in several orphans (including Callen and Hunter) from the streets in order to mold them into undercover operatives.
  • Eric Beale (Barrett Foa) is the team's Technical Operator and resident geek. He is not an undercover operative like his teammates and as such is not firearms trained. Beale is incredibly comfortable in the OSP much to the chagrin of his teammates who often become annoyed by his quirks such as leaving his surf board by their cars. He is partnered and close friends with Nell.
  • Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) is a veteran Los Angeles Police Department Detective who worked undercover and was exiled socially within the LAPD. Deeks is also an experienced attorney at law having worked as a Public Defender in the Los Angeles Criminal Courts prior to joining the LAPD. After he is selected by Hetty to be the LAPD's Liaison Officer to NCIS, it becomes clear that her plan is for Deeks to become an Agent. He has not had the easiest childhood and deflects a great deal using humor. He is partnered with, and romantically linked to, Kensi.
  • Nell Jones (Renée Felice Smith) is an Intelligence Analyst with dreams of becoming a Special Agent. She is just as comfortable outside the office as in it, and it appears that Hetty is grooming her as a replacement. Jones is a highly capable field operative and extremely skilled firearms expert. She has the highest IQ of anybody at NCIS. She is partnered and close friends with Eric.
  • Owen Granger (Miguel Ferrer) is the Assistant Director of NCIS. He is the team's link to Washington, and whilst he is often seen at loggerheads with his underlings, he no doubt has a great desire to keep them safe. Unlike other administrators, he is not afraid to accompany the team into the field. Granger spent many years overseas as a field agent on many hazardous assignments before becoming a boss. He is a long time friend and sometimes adversary of Hetty.

Recurring cast and characters

He initially spent a great amount of time "getting the new LA office up and running", but still returns to ensure the well-being of his agents. Carroll also appears on both NCIS (as a regular), and NCIS: Los Angeles. He makes a seventh appearance in "Hunted". Vance appears in the season two finale and season three premiere. He makes his tenth appearance during season six.
  • Brian Avers as Mike Renko, an agent attached to NCIS' Los Angeles satellite office (seasons 1, 3):
He often works with OSP. An undercover operative, Renko later reported directly to Owen Granger. The team were fond of him, so it came as a shock when he was gunned down during an operation gone awry in a revenge attack.
She often assists the team on their investigations. She is incredibly quirky and develops an affinity for Nate Getz, showing great romantic interest in the psychologist.
  • Ronald Auguste as Moe Dusa, a man whom Sam first came into contact with in Sudan (seasons 1–2):
A "brother" to Sam, of sorts, he joins a terrorist group and assists in the kidnapping of Dom. Developing a conscience, Moe assists in Dom's escape. He is later found dead by the NCIS agents.
  • Vyto Ruginis as Arkady Kolchek, a retired Russian operative (seasons 1–7):
He is friends with Hetty. He considers himself to be of great assistance to the NCIS team but often brings trouble in his wake. He has a daughter whom he does not know very well.
  • Claire Forlani as Lauren Hunter, an NCIS Operations Manager and SSA (seasons 2–3):
Taken in by Hetty as a teenager, Lauren later becomes an NCIS agent and succeeds Hetty for a short time as Special Agent in Charge of OSP. Initially adversarial, the team later warmed to Hunter. She was reassigned following Lange's return but was later kidnapped and murdered by the Chameleon. Her death has a lasting effect on Lange.
When Marcel is conducting business transactions, his M.O. is to buy the supplies for his employers and then arrange a drop-off for the merchandise. He is the primary antagonist to Callen during the show's third season and is responsible for the deaths of Hunter and Renko.
He is arrested by the team whilst he is deep undercover. He is friends with Michelle Hanna and later joins Kensi Blye's Afghanistan team. Kensi initially believes him to be her suspect, but she later realizes he is a skilled operative and will be of great use to her.
Kensi's ex-fiance, who was suspected of being a war-criminal known as 'The White Ghost'. Kensi was assigned to assassinate him in the series' fifth season.

Other

  • Louise Lombard as Lara Macy; a former Military Police Lieutenant and the Supervisory Special Agent of OSP, Macy was relieved of her position sometime between the pilot episode and the beginning of season one. Hetty remarks she was sent to Djibouti in retaliation for insubordination regarding budget, although how truthful this is unknown. After a short time working with an NCIS satellite division, Macy is found dead in the NCIS episode "Patriot Down", murdered as part of a vendetta against Washington Special Agent Gibbs. Lombard was not picked up as a regular in the new series, and the character was killed in an episode of NCIS.

Production

Special Agent G. Callen was initially a CIA operative created by Shane Brennan for series that was never produced. After taking over show runner duties previously held by Donald P. Bellisario on NCIS, he used the potential of a spinoff to bring his story to fruition.

Brennan intended for the series to hold a Miami Vice -esque vibe through its two co-leads, Callen and Agent Sam Hanna. However, the character of Lara Macy was written to serve as a parallel for Gibbs, the lead of the original NCIS team. Macy was portrayed by Louise Lombard in the backdoor pilot, but was not featured in the actual spinoff, and Brennan was able to produce the show as he originally envisioned it.

The show was known as NCIS: Legend while in production (referring to the episodes of NCIS in which the spin-off was introduced), and other names considered included OSP: Office of Special Projects, NCIS: OSP and NCIS: Undercover. Filming started in February 2009, with the characters being introduced in the two-part NCIS episode titled "Legend", the first part of which aired on April 28, 2009. This episode served as a backdoor pilot for the series, in a manner similar to the introduction of NCIS, which was introduced by way of a two-part episode of JAG.

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
Intro2April 28, 2009 (2009-04-28)May 5, 2009 (2009-05-05)
124September 22, 2009 (2009-09-22)May 25, 2010 (2010-05-25)
224September 21, 2010 (2010-09-21)May 17, 2011 (2011-05-17)
324September 20, 2011 (2011-09-20)May 15, 2012 (2012-05-15)
424September 25, 2012 (2012-09-25)May 14, 2013 (2013-05-14)
524September 24, 2013 (2013-09-24)May 13, 2014 (2014-05-13)
624September 29, 2014 (2014-09-29)May 18, 2015 (2015-05-18)
724September 21, 2015 (2015-09-21)May 2, 2016 (2016-05-02)

Reception

"Identity", the series' first episode, garnered 18.73 million viewers with a 4.4/11 share in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic and therefore won its timeslot. It was the second most watched show of the week, behind only the original NCIS.

Reviews for the show have been mixed. It has a score of 59/100 on Metacritic. According to Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times, "The crime is intriguing and multifaceted, its resolution requiring a nice balance of street smarts and lots of gunfire. But as with the original "NCIS", the emphasis is on the characters of the team... Los Angeles, meanwhile, looks fabulous, a pleasing mixture of noir and gridlock, and there's an air of stability that's comforting in these uncertain times." The New York Daily News reviewer, David Hinckley, was more critical of the show saying that although "It all adds up to an hour of decent entertainment, and there's room for enough character development to give "NCIS: Los Angeles" a personality of its own, ... a premiere episode shouldn't feel even a little like something we've already seen."

Tom Shales of The Washington Post felt that, "NCIS: Los Angeles gets the job done ... It's a procedural that follows strictly the established procedure, but it has likable characters, dislikable bad guys and the occasional flabbergasting shot of L.A." Robert Bianco of USA Today summarized it as a "serviceable hour that takes the NCIS formula—a light tone and a lot of banter wrapped around a fairly rudimentary investigatory plot—and transfers it to a special, undercover NCIS division in Los Angeles. Nothing more, but also nothing less." The Hollywood Reporter compared the show to The A-Team with "the same lighthearted approach to life-or-death situations. Maybe the biggest change is that 'NCIS: L.A.' achieves its inevitably favorable outcomes with a little more intellect and a little less testosterone." IGN stated that although "NCIS: Los Angeles doesn't exactly reinvent the police procedural... it's another above-average entry, aided by the fact that the people behind the show know what they're doing" and ultimately gave the episode a 7.7/10.

Ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
Seasonal ratings table
SeasonTimeslot (ET)No. of
episodes
PremieredEndedTV seasonRankViewers
(in millions)
DatePremiere viewers
(in millions)
DateFinale viewers
(in millions)
1Tuesday
9:00 pm/8c
24September 22, 200918.73May 25, 201013.122009–10916.08
224September 21, 201015.76May 17, 201115.612010–11716.54
324September 20, 201116.71May 15, 201215.192011–12716.01
424September 25, 201216.74May 14, 201313.522012–13417.31
524September 24, 201316.35May 13, 201414.852013–14416.03
6Monday
10:00 pm/9c
24September 29, 20149.48May 18, 20159.332014–152711.72
724September 21, 20157.89May 2, 20168.102015–162411.11
8Sunday
8:00 pm/7c
October 2, 20162016–17

Awards and nominations

YearAssociationCategoryNominee(s)ResultRef.
2010People's Choice AwardsFavorite New TV DramaNominated
Teen Choice AwardsChoice Action ShowWon
Choice Actor ActionLL Cool JNominated
Choice Actress ActionDaniela RuahNominated
Portuguese Golden GlobesRevelationDaniela RuahWon
2011Teen Choice AwardsChoice Action ShowWon
Choice Actor ActionLL Cool JNominated
Choice Actress ActionLinda HuntWon
2012Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Stunt DirectionTroy James BrownNominated
Teen Choice AwardsChoice Action ShowNominated
Choice Actor ActionLL Cool JNominated
Choice Actress ActionLinda HuntWon
2013Teen Choice AwardsChoice Action ShowWon
Choice Actor ActionLL Cool JWon

Potential spin-off

On November 5, 2012, Deadline.com reported the first news about a spin-off of NCIS: Los Angeles titled NCIS: Red. The new characters were introduced during a two-part episode of NCIS: Los Angeles. The spin-off was to feature a team of mobile agents, who travel around the country to solve crimes. This would have been the second successive spin-off in the NCIS franchise. However, on May 15, 2013, CBS confirmed that NCIS: Red was officially passed on and would not be moving forward.

Home video releases

The first six seasons have been released on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4, and Season 1 was released on Blu-ray Disc in Region A. The first season DVD release includes the two-part pilot episode that aired as part of the sixth season of NCIS, which were also included on the Season 6 DVD of NCIS. All releases are distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment.

International broadcast

In India the series airs on AXN (India). In the UK the series airs on Sky 1. In the Netherlands the series airs on SBS 6. NCIS: Los Angeles on Network Ten and TVH!TS (formerly TV1) in Australia.