Friday, August 22, 2008
NCIS - The Fifth Season (CBS, $55.98) is now on DVD. This season is marked by mysterious secrets among the team, an explosive showdown with an elusive arms dealer, and a shocking final episode that shouldn't be missed. The series starts Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette, David McCallum, Sean Murray, Cote de Pablo, and Lauren Holly. This set contains the 18 episodes of the 2008 Writers' Strike-shortened 5th season.
One thing I hope I'm made absolutely clear over the years is simply that I *love* this show. Judging by the ratings many others do to. What amazes me though is very rarely does a week go by where I don't hear someone throwing it under the bus and trying to group it in with shows like CSI, Law & Order, etc. Yes, there are elements of that to this series. But with NCIS especially there's so much more going on. This series is significantly more character driven, and seems far more willing to use recurring plot themes than many of those other shows. With the other series, you could insert just about any actor into the carefully crafted niches in the series framework, and tell the same stories. But in NCIS' first five series, this largely hasn't been true. Ziva is largely different from Kate, for example, in the show's one main cast replacement. Similarly, replacing any other character would have strong effects on the series. This makes me concerned about the plot twist at the end of this fifth season -- and I really hope they don't screw this up, as honestly anything more than a temporary tweak for story purposes might very well send me packing from the series.
What could be so big that it would even threaten to send me running--the 5th season finale. One cast member (Lauren Holly) made a permanent exit from the show, while three others (Michael Weatherly, Sean Murray, Cote de Pablo) all were "reassigned" as part of the ending of the episode. Whether this is a temporary change or a permanent one will be resolved in season six -- I think I've made clear my hope of the outcome (no, I haven't bothered to check for spoilers). Before that, though, you have a great season of episodes, including a great Gibbs-centric episode in "Requiem" that's kicked off when Gibbs is sought for help by the childhood friend of his deceased daughter.
In terms of the technical side of the set, the packaging is as always a box containing slimcases -- three cases holding five discs this season. The discs have taken on the silver standard look of Paramount/CBS releases. Menus are well-designed but static, with no music in the background. In regards to audio and video, a great thing about working with newer series is that the video quality and audio quality are great almost by default. This set is no exception -- the video looks flawless in its presentation. Color balance is nice and even, there are no compression artifacts, there are no problems in the transfer -- nothing. Audio is a crisp and clear 5.1 audio track. The usual CBS/Paramount disclaimer about edits appears on the bottom of the box, but the only missing footage I can find in the one episode I have for comparison, "About Face," is the Stay Tuned for Scenes from the Next NCIS tag at the end. In fact, excluding *it* the DVD version actually appears to have a longer runtime by a few seconds. More than likely, in an era of pre-negotiated DVD rights, that disclaimer is just for legal purposes. I highly doubt anything substantive is cut.
And since NCIS is a popular series currently airing on TV, that means more effort goes into the bonuses on a release. There are SIX special features, including cast and crew commentaries, a revisiting of the aforementioned episode Requiem, a featurette talking about NCIS Season 5 itself, a feature on the costumes and wardrobe for the series, plus a feature on what all goes into transforming Pauley Perrette into the Abby character, including all the wardrobe, makeup, hair, false tattoos, etc. All great stuff to sit through and watch/listen to. The commentaries in particular are a great addition to see. I always love seeing DVD releases with large numbers of special features.
I didn't want to devote too much time to it, but another positive of this DVD release is the lower MSRP. Whether due to an overall business strategy or the fact that this season has a couple fewer episodes, the MSRP is noticeably lower than with past releases. I've been a big opponent of overpricing DVD sets, so I applaud this change wholeheartedly.
For those of you reading this who are trying to decide whether to buy the set or not, I wholeheartedly encourage it. NCIS is a great character driven drama -- with comedic elements -- and would make a welcome addition to your TV on DVD library. And for fans of the series, while the presence of the Disclaimer of Doom is always troubling, I sincerely doubt you have anything to worry about. As such, this set is STRONGLY recommended.
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher
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New on DVD/Blu-ray (August)
08/04 - The Comeback - The Complete Series
08/04 - I Love Lucy - Ultimate Season 2 (Blu-ray)
08/04 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - Season Three
08/11 - The Jeffersons - Season Eight
08/11 - Maude - The Complete Second Season
08/11 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fourth Season
08/11 - The Jeff Foxworthy Show - The COmplete Series (Mill Creek)
08/18 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Fifth Season
08/18 - Welcome Back, Kotter - The Final (Fourth) Season
08/25 - King of the Hill - The Complete 11th Season
08/25 - The Mindy Project - Season Three
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Monday, August 31
2 Broke Girls - "And the Look of the Irish" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Max and Caroline try to break Nash (Austin Falk) into the modeling business in an effort to bring in extra money acting as his managers. Also, Sophie and Oleg attempt to keep celibate for 30 days before their wedding. Sandra Bernhard returns as Joe, owner of The High.
The Odd Couple - "Enlightening Strikes" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Felix substitute teaches a yoga class, his teaching style rubs everyone, including Emily, the wrong way. Also, Oscar and Dani get trapped on a subway car, adding to their frustration about living in the city, and Murph asks Teddy to be his agent when he’s approached to be the spokesperson for a Norwegian health supplement. Weird Al Yankovic guest stars as Steve, a student in Felix’s yoga class; Regis Philbin appears as Walter, a passenger on the subway; Geoff Stults returns as Murph.
Significant Mother - " Suffering & Scuccotash" (The CW, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Series Premiere)
When Lydia's uptight mother visits unexpectedly, Lydia wants to hide her relationship with Jimmy; Grammy reveals a secret of her own.
Monday, August 31
- Victoria Justice (Victorious/Zoey 101) - Watch Victoria on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Roseanne Barr (Roseanne) - Roseanne stops by Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) - Demi is a panelist and musical guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Melora Hardin (Transparent/Wedding Band/The Office) - Melora is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Amy Landecker (Transparent) - Amy will be on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Abby Elliott (Odd Mom Out) - Abby appears on a repeat of Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Tim Conway (McHale's Navy/Rango) - Tim is a guest on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
- Cedric the Entertainer (The Soul Man/The Steve Harvey Show) and Niecy Nash (The Soul Man/Getting On/Reno 911!) - Cedric and Niecy are guests on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
- Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) and David Walton (About a Boy/Bent/Perfect Couples) - Jeremy and David talk about their new film Break Point on NBC's Today in the 9am hour, on HuffPost Live at 3:00pm, on the AOL Build Show, on SI Now and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.