“Federal agents!” exclaims an NCIS agent.
Suspect on the other side of the street: [Does a double-take, turns, and flees]
“Why do they always run?” sighs the agent.
The above scene is from 275 of the 307 episodes of CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles that have aired to date.
And perhaps the question, NCIS agent, isn’t, “Why do they always run?” “However, why do I always announce my presence from 50 feet away?”
I asked NCIS: LA vet Daniela Ruah about it the other day, and she happened to direct exactly such a scene for the episode that aired Nov. 6….
TVLINE: Dani I have to ask you a question. Please tell me the truth. Why do you all yell “Federal agent!” from across the street, allowing the POI to flee? Do you ever wonder that as an actor?
[Ruah bursts out laughing for 20 seconds….] Yeah. That is why I am amused. It’s so strange!
TVLINE | Why not just walk up to them and ask for directions to, say, the Hollywood Bowl? Then introduce yourself.
Yes…. Yes. I mean, I could argue it in a variety of ways, but at the end of the day, yes. There’s always the question of, “Why would you yell ‘federal agents!’ from across the street when they can just run away and get a jump on you?” I’m not even going to pretend that’s not the case. But, with television, I believe it’s simply a matter of suspending disbelief. For example, [that trope] can sometimes be used to establish geography and show the location and environment you’re in. I believe you could explain it in a variety of creative ways, but logically, no, of course.
TVLINE | At the very least, it provides a fun chase scene in which an agent appears from around a corner and clotheslines the bad guy.
There you have it! You can’t clothesline a bad guy from around the corner if they don’t have the opportunity to flee in the first place.
But I was laughing because that question has been raised by me and several other cast members when we are in front of the camera. And then I end up doing it as a director. I’m at a loss for words, Matt! Why would we bother calling this guy from all the way over here when we could just creep up on him? But then, as a director, I think, “Ooh, this is a really nice shot…. This is something we should do!” [Laughs]
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