Friday, August 22, 2008

Mini-DVD Review: NCIS - The Fifth Season (Aug. 26)

Welcome to a special edition of mini-DVD reviews! Today we we take a look at CBS DVD's Fifth Season of Navy NCIS. See Seth Thrasher's mini-DVD review of NCIS - The Fifth Season and:

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
(4.5/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Navy NCIS TV.com Page


New on DVD/Blu-ray (July)

Archie Bunker's Place - Season One (Mill Creek) Married with Children - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) Playing House - Season 1 Growing Pains - The Complete Fifth Season WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Third Season

07/07 - Archie Bunker's Place - Season One (Mill Creek)
07/07 - Barney Miller - The Final (Eighth) Season
07/07 - Married with Children - Season Eleven (Mill Creek)
07/07 - Married with Children - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
07/07 - The Michael J. Fox Show - The Complete First Season
07/07 - Playing House - Season 1
07/14 - Growing Pains - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
07/14 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Third Season
07/28 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites - Season 7
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, July 8


The Middle - "The Answer" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Heck family learns about Darrin’s marriage proposal to Sue…as well as her response. Meanwhile, Axl attempts to use his intro to Psych class to cure Brick of all of his quirks and tics.

The Goldbergs - "As You Wish" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Murray is excited when Adam tells him he wants to play a sport at school.  That is until he finds out it’s fencing. After quitting his first match, Adam confesses his real intention — to recreate his favorite scene from “The Princess Bride” — and makes Murray furious. Meanwhile, Beverly is up to her matchmaking ways and sets up Barry’s wrestling coach with Erica’s voice teacher and it doesn’t go exactly as planned.

Modern Family - "Fight or Flight" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After a long reunion weekend with Phil’s old cheer buddies, Claire jumps at the chance to snag the only first class seat left on the return flight home leaving Phil in coach and both have completely opposite experiences. Meanwhile, Gloria forces Jay to teach Manny how to defend himself against a bully in his cooking class, but when things backfire it seems that the real bully might be someone else. Mitch, Cameron, Pepper and the whole gang throw Sal a belated baby shower and they are all blown away by how motherhood has changed her, or has it really?

black-ish - "The Real World" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Bow reconnects with her college friends on Facebook, she invites them over for an elaborate dinner party and tries to impress them. But the night of the party, Dre ends up learning a lot of new information about Bow’s past. Meanwhile, the kids discover that one of Bow’s friend’s was on “The Real World,” so they decide to shoot their own reality show and document the party.


Melissa & Joey - "Melissa & Joey's Frozen" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mel and Joe are frozen during a ski trip accident, then get thawed out 100 years later.

Baby Daddy - "Parental Guidance Suggested" (ABC Family, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Ben tries to decide who should receive custody of Emma in the event of his untimely demise.


The Game - "Get Up, Stand Up" (BET, 10:00PM ET/PT)
The Sabers walkout crisis; Kelly and Jason hold a town hall meeting to rally their supporters; Keira and Malik go out on a date.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 6) (All times ET unless noted)

Wednesday, July 8

  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Nick on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/The Office) - Ellie is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) - Thomas appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Laura Linney (The Big C) - Laura drops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. She will also be on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
  • Bernadette Peters (Mozart in the Jungle) - Bernadette is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Mark Feuerstein (Good Morning, Miami/Fired Up) - Mark chats on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Will Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) - Will is a guest on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • NeNe Leakes (The New Normal) - NeNe appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Tune in to see Patricia on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jack Black (The Brink) - Jack talks about Goosebumps on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Rico Rodriguez (Modern Family) and Raini Rodriguez (Austin & Ally) - Rico and Raini stop by to talk about their latest projects on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Andy Buckley (Odd Mom Out/The Office) - Andy gives a look at his new series Odd Mom Out on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor/Breaking In) - Michael will be on Good Day LA on KTTV in Los Angeles sometime between 7-10am.