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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Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, April 24

The Goldbergs - "The Wedding Singer" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Barry and Lainey’s wedding date is right around the corner, and Beverly is in her element as she tries to make everything perfect for her schmoopie’s big day. Geoff is concerned about Adam’s shortcomings as a wedding videographer. Meanwhile, Barry begins to have second thoughts.

Schooled - "Money for RENT" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Mellor tells Lainey that sports are king at William Penn, she sets out to put on the Broadway hit musical “Rent” to show Mellor the arts are just as important as athletics. Meanwhile, Glascott and CB struggle to modernize the school’s outdated boy’s health education program.

Modern Family - "Whanex?" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
While preparing a presentation for his students about their future goals, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) must also contend with a bully at the school and Jay (Ed O’Neil) is having a little technical trouble during his video conference. Meanwhile, the local mall is holding a photo shoot for its new ad campaign and Gloria tricks Phil and Joe into participating.

Single Parents - "Graham D'Amato: Hot Lunch Mentalist" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Will wants to get back together with Mia, but as their relationship progresses, he finds himself having to choose between the “normal” family he’s always wanted and the new family he’s created with Angie, Poppy, Miggy, Douglas and the kids. In order to get Will to come back to his senses about Mia, Angie kicks him off the babysitting grid and fills the spot with Dr. Mark, Douglas’ rival dermatologist, much to Douglas’ chagrin. Meanwhile, Graham is nervous to compete in the talent show and relies on Will to calm him down when he gets nervous on stage.

What We Do in the Shadows - "Animal Control" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Laszlo, in bat form, is captured by Staten Island Animal Control and must be rescued; Nadja can no longer resist reconnecting with her reincarnated lover, Gregor.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 22)

Wednesday, April 24

  • Don Cheadle (Black Monday/House of Lies/The Golden Palace) - Watch Don on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Brie Larson (United States of Tara/Raising Dad) - Brie drops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Henry Winkler (Barry/Out of Practice/Happy Days) - Henry is a guest on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Natalie Morales (Abby's) - Natalie appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Colin Hanks (Life in Pieces) - Colin visits E!'s Busy Tonight at 11pm.
  • Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy/American Dad!/The Cleveland Show) - Seth stops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Christine Barankski (Happy Family/Welcome to New York/Cybill) - Christine talks about The Good Fight on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Bob Saget (How I Met Your Mother/Surviving Suburbia/Raising Dad/Full House) - Bob guest co-hosts ABC's Strahan & Sara at 1pm.
  • Nicole Ari Parker (Second Time Around) - Nicole talks about Empire on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Angela Kinsey (The Office/The Hotwives of Orlando/Your Family or Mine) and Brian Baumgartner (The Office) - Angela and Brian are guests on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (February/March/April)

Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season Alice - The Complete Ninth Season The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season

02/05 - Family Guy - Part 1 - Volumes 1-5
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 2 - Volumes 6-10
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 3 - Seasons 10-14
02/05 - First Lady of Television - Betty White Collection (40 rare and acclaimed episodes from her early days in television)
02/05 - Mama's Family - Seasons 1-6 - The Complete Series
02/12 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-3 (Blu-ray)
02/12 - Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season
02/26 - What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season
03/05 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
03/12 - Alice - The Complete Ninth Season (WBShop.com)
03/26 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
04/02 - Archer: Danger Island - The Complete Season Nine
04/09 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fifth Season
04/12 - Evening Shade - The Complete Collection
04/16 - The Big C - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
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