Outbreak! ‘Hawaii Five-0′ and ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ Team Up to Stop a Deadly Pandemic

by | April 30, 2012 at 9:23 AM | Hawaii Five-O, NCIS: LA

LL COOL J (NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna), Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-0 Detective Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly) in the H50-NCIS: LA Crossover (Richard Cartwright/CBS)

It’s a case so lethal, it starts on “Hawaii Five-0” and segues to “NCIS: Los Angeles” when the Rumanian mafia gets its hands on some lethal vials of smallpox and threatens a terrorist attack with the deadly virus.

The action begins when people start dying from the disease that was thought to have been eradicated and Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan) realizes that the perp responsible is on the national watch list. He contacts Hanna (LL Cool J) and Callen (Chris O’Donnell), who immediately catch a flight to Oahu to help “Five-0″ take him down.

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“We are tracking Dracul Comescu [Craig Robert Young],” says O’Donnell, on location in Hawaii. “There has been a smallpox outbreak and we are trying to contain it. Dracul has taken off with the remaining vials. We picked [his trail] up at the international market place and we spread out trying to find him.”

It was earlier this season that the “NCIS: Los Angeles” agents flew to Rumania to rescue Hetty (Linda Hunt), who had put her life in jeopardy to uncover all the secrets of Callen’s parentage, and in so doing, they destroyed the Comescu family business. Now that remaining members have turned to an even more deadly crime, Callen is taking it personally.

But before tuning in, get the lowdown from “NCIS: Los Angeles” Executive Producer R. Scott Gemmill, who gives us all the details on how the writers made it work, how deadly a smallpox outbreak could be and more!

Go Behind the Scenes of the Crossover Event!

How did the writers from both shows sit down and hash out the storyline?
First we had to decide if it was even possible. “Five-0″ shoots in Hawaii so the logistics of making this happen had to be considered before we could even begin thinking of a story. Once we decided we could make it work, we started kicking around ideas. We knew it had to be big in order to justify having two teams (shows) involved. Both shows solve big cases on their own every week so for “Five-0″ and “NCIS: LA” to team up it had to be something that threatened both their worlds. It also had to be a story that could travel from Hawaii to Los Angeles and carry over two hours of television. It was a tall order and the threat of a deadly pandemic seemed to fit all the necessary criteria. Once we agreed on the arena, it was simply a matter of sitting down and slowly working through the mechanics of the story.

Where did the smallpox come from (there are only two places it’s stored on the planet)? How did it get to Hawaii? Who took it? Why? What’s their motive?
It was the same basic process a writer goes through on any story, amplified by the fact that two teams from two different shows would be involved. After that, we simply went back and forth putting the pieces together that were necessary to satisfy both shows and tell a compelling story.

How was it decided which characters from each show would be the ones to crossover and how well did they mesh?
Whenever you write for characters that aren’t your own or bring actors into your show from another series, you’re worried about how it’s going to work out and how everyone is going to get along, but this was never an issue with Scott (Caan) or Daniel (Dae Kim). The guys were great and they fit in as if they’d always been a part of our team. It truly couldn’t have worked better. They had great rapport with our actors and I think you’ll see that everyone had fun. It was great to introduce Danno and Chin Ho (Kim) into the mix. It added a whole new dynamic to our teams and allowed us to have some fun.

How big of a threat is smallpox since there is a vaccine? Or is this going to be a super-duper form?
Smallpox is a huge threat, that’s why only two places on the planet have living strains of the virus — the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in the U.S. and the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR) in Koltsovo, Russia. Smallpox killed half a billion people and wasn’t eradicated until 1979. To put it in perspective, two million people died in 1967 alone. There is a vaccine, but routine vaccination stopped in the ’70s. Some healthcare workers and military personnel still receive it, but that’s it. So basically, most of the planet has lost its immunity. There’s been a push to destroy the remaining stocks of the virus precisely so that a scenario like the one we created doesn’t happen. After 9/11 the U.S. government supposedly stockpiled enough vaccine for every American citizen, but the reality of distribution in the event of an outbreak would be a nightmare. Think how long it took to get organized for Hurricane Katrina.

How hard was it that the second part of the story filmed before the first part?
It was not ideal, but the show must go on — even if it’s Part Two before Part One. We tried to make Part Two stand on its own as an episode of “NCIS: LA” as much as we could so that helped. We also knew the story and we kept in touch with “Five-0″ as we went so that we wouldn’t do anything that couldn’t be undone or would mess them up. The fact that it worked so well is a testimony to the cast and crew of both shows. Doing something like this requires that everyone be on their ‘A’ game. You have to make sure wardrobe and props get to both shows and that we have the same photographs from the crime scenes, etc., etc. It’s a real production.

What can you tease about the story?
If Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen from “NCIS: LA”) and Danno were in the same classroom at school, their teacher would have to separate them.

Part one airs on “Hawaii Five-0″ tonight at 10/9c on CBS, followed by the conclusion on Tuesday, May 1 at 9/8c also on CBS.