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 (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, August 22

The Mick - "The Mess" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Mickey’s attempts at disciplining the kids are ignored, she decides to shed her “cool aunt” persona and lay down the law.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Monster in the Closet" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Pimento and Rosa decide to pick up where they left off and get married, so the whole squad preps a perfect wedding under Amy’s careful direction. Pimento enlists Jake and Gina to hunt for his grandmother’s ruby earrings for Rosa to wear in the ceremony, but the universe has other plans for them.

Wrecked - "Nerd Speak" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
As the ship sinks, the survivors try to escape.

Still the King - "Vernon's Single" (CMT, 1:00AM ET/PT)
Vernon discovers his manager has given his new single to another recording artist to perform.

Still the King - "Who's Your Daddy?" (CMT, 1:30AM ET/PT)
It's Debbie and Ronnie's big wedding day, but when Debbie's water breaks on the altar, Vernon races against the clock to be there for the birth.

In The Cut - "Party Things" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jay and Smitty see dollar signs when an enthusiastic lawyer convinces them their complaints can result in big cash settlements; Kenny reconnects with Angelique, but it's her new boyfriend, Conrad, that is interested in a relationship with Kenny.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 21)

Tuesday, August 22

  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) - Catch Jim on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later/Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp) - Michael appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Maya Rudolph (Up All Night) - Maya is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Topher Grace (That '70s Show) - Topher appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Chris is a guest on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin appears on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Jake Smollett (On Our Own) - Jake takes store-bought ramen to the next level on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Spencer Sutherland (Still the King) - Spencer dishes on playing a young Billy Ray Cyrus on Still the King on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Mindy Sterling (Con Man/A.N.T. Farm) - Mindy talks about Syfy's Con Man on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • John Corbett (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll/United States of Tara/Lucky) - John talks about All Saints on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. He can also be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM at 11am.