Firstly, before I write another word, a round of applause for David McCallum and Brian Dietzen. They had quite a heavy load in this episode and didn't disappoint – not that they ever do. Watching them work made shooting long nights in the cold, dark forest actually enjoyable. Except we didn't actually shoot in a forest – which brings me to the next awesome thing in this episode: the fake forest we built on Stage 5. Our production design team went above and beyond for this one – easily the coolest set they've built yet, and that's saying a lot. Stage 5 actually looked more like a real forest than the real forest we used for a few establishing shots. Great work, guys.
The core of this episode came from a simple question: what happens on a typical day when Ducky and Jimmy Palmer drive off from a crime scene? It's not something we ever actually see. But this time we do – though the drive home isn't exactly typical. On this drive, Ducky and Jimmy get kidnapped by a mysterious woman and are forced to conduct their autopsy in a remote cabin. With guns pointed at their heads.
Every episode has its own unique challenges. The challenge in this episode was coming up with ways to help Ducky and Jimmy escape using only the things they had at their disposal. In this case, their expertise…and a dead body. All without being too gross. Actually, I'm not sure I succeeded on that last point (considering the source of the methane they used to make their IED). But, hey…desperate times call for desperate measures.
Other treats included working with Mario Van Peebles, who directed the episode. His enthusiasm was infectious and, as a writer himself, he had a great understanding of story. Also, I got him to autograph a Blu-ray of "New Jack City" so that was extra-specially awesome. One of the great perks of this job is, not only getting to meet, but actually work with people whose own work you admire. That was MVP.
Of course, no self-respecting Insider's Blog would be completely without yet another shout-out to the rest of the cast and crew. I'm sure it's been mentioned elsewhere, but I'll mention it again – we shoot from 7 am to 7 pm regularly. Often longer. That's not including drive-time and any preparations that are required over the weekend. If you want to get 8 hours of sleep, you need to go to bed basically 2 hours after you get home. Barely enough time to eat, shower, and shave (legs and/or face). Which is why NCIS is more than just job…it's a life, and has been for almost a decade for most of the cast and crew. So many of us have had kids on this show; gotten married on this show; and even lost loved ones on the show. Like a family, not everyone always gets along. But, like a family, we always have each others backs. There's more to this story than I have space to get into but there have been some incredible acts of kindness recently in our house. And I just wanted to let you all know that love and support you see between our characters on-screen isn't just TV fantasy. It's just a reflection of our reality. Again, thank you for watching. Until next time…
Steven D. Binder, Co-Executive Producer