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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SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Navy NCIS TV.com Page


New on DVD/Blu-ray (January)

The Cosby Show - Seasons 5 & 6 (Mill Creek) Married with Children - Seasons 7 and 8 (Mill Creek) The Facts of Life - The Complete Series Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Second Season

01/06 - The Cosby Show - Season 5 (Mill Creek)
01/06 - The Cosby Show - Season 6 (Mill Creek)
01/06 - The Cosby Show - Seasons 5 & 6 (Mill Creek)
01/06 - Girls - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
01/06 - Married with Children - Season Seven (Mill Creek)
01/06 - Married with Children - Season Eight (Mill Creek)
01/06 - Married with Children - Seasons Seven and Eight (Mill Creek)
01/13 - The Big House - The Complete Series
01/13 - Episodes - The Third Season
01/13 - The Facts of Life - The Complete Series (Shout! Factory
01/20 - Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Second Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, January 28

The Middle - "The Loneliest Locker" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Frankie and Mike scramble to find second jobs in a desperate attempt to afford sending Sue to a good college next year. Sue and Brad strive to do something different and important while writing, directing and starring in the senior play, entitled “The Loneliest Locker,” instead of eating the family out of house and home, Axl literally begins to take the home apart when he removes -- without asking -- as many household items as he can to furnish his and Hutch's new rented house, and Brick drives the family crazy when he finds a box containing all of his noisy and annoying childhood toys -- that were purposely stowed away by Frankie -- and begins playing with them.

The Goldbergs - "The Facts of Bleeping Life" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
With Prince Charles and Lady Di’s wedding approaching, Beverly gets the idea for her and Murray to renew their vows. But with Murray’s complete lack of interest, will Beverly lose her chance at a second wedding? Meanwhile, Barry hopes his and Adam’s garage band will get Erica’s best friend, Lainey, to notice him again.

Modern Family - "Won't You Be Our Neighbor" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Phil is selling the house next door and he and Claire are excited by the prospect of having wonderful new neighbors, but that quickly turns into panic when a loud and obnoxious couple (guest stars Steve Zahn and Andrea Anders) come to look at the house. Jay forbids Manny to see his new girlfriend when he realizes she’s the granddaughter of his biggest business rival, leading to a clash of the closet titans. Elsewhere, Mitch and Cam are determined to switch Lily out of Mrs. Plank’s (guest star Tyne Daly) class since she is known to rule with an iron fist – not to mention she scares them too.

black-ish - "The Nod" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Dre sets out to expand Andre Jr’s social circle to include more black kids after he discovers Andre Jr. is clueless about “the nod.” Meanwhile, hoping to inspire little Diane to become a doctor, Rainbow takes her to work at the hospital... on what turns out to be the worst day ever.

black-ish - "Colored Commentary" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Dre wants the family to feel more connected so he encourages “Team Johnson” to embrace what it means to have each other’s backs. But Dre creates trouble for himself when he falls short of Bow’s expectations. Meanwhile, Bow and Dre invoke “Team Johnson” and put the less-than-enthusiastic Zoey and Andre Jr. in charge of babysitting the twins.

black-ish - "The Prank King" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Dre fears his holiday fun will be ruined when the older kids balk at the glorious Johnson Halloween tradition of seeing who can pull the most outlandish pranks on each other.

Melissa & Joey - "Let's Get It Started" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Joe tries to convince Mel that the time is right to start a family; Zander dates Lennox's friend.

Baby Daddy - "Mugging for the Camera" (ABC Family, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Ben and Riley appear on Mary Hart's program to discuss how they foiled an attempted mugging.

Hot in Cleveland - "About a Joy" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Joy sees Bob in a new light when he helps Joy’s grandson deal with the school bully. Elka inspires Melanie to reconnect with a woman from her past. Victoria tries to keep up with her younger boyfriend.

The Exes - "A Bride Too Far" (TV Land, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Holly’s engagement to Congressman Charles Hayward is put in jeopardy when a scandalous photo of her lands in the newspaper. Haskell has an idea for a great new app, but needs an investor.

The Game - "Nothing Was the Game" (BET, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Malik manipulates Jason; Tasha commits to motherhood; Keira's humiliating experience.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "Psycho Pete Returns" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
When Psycho Pete, long lost member of the freight train, is released from the mental hospital, Dennis and Dee rush to get him recommitted while Charlie and Mac attempt to restore him to his former hard-partying form.

Man Seeking Woman - "Pitbull" (FXX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Josh and Mike have a wild night out.

Love Thy Neighbor - "Madea and Hattie" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Madea and Hattie find out about Linda's pregnancy; things don't bode well for Phillip.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 26) (All times ET unless noted)

Wednesday, January 28

  • Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs (2 Broke Girls) - Watch Kat and Beth on The Late Late Show at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Rhea Seehorn (Whitney/I'm with Her) - Rhea stops by The Late Late Show at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney guest co-hosts The Late Late Show at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Martin Short (Mulaney/The Martin Short Show) - Martin is a guest on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation/House of Lies) - Ben appears on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristin appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Casey Wilson (Marry Me/Happy Endings) - Casey is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Tony Danza (Who's the Boss/Taxi) - Tony talks about starring in the most talked about musical of the year, Honeymoon in Vegas, on The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Ava Kolker (Girls Meets World) - Ava shares stories from the set of her show on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Raven-SymonĂ© (The Cosby Show/Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/That's So Raven) - Raven-SymonĂ© guest co-hosts The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Oliver Hudson (Rules of Engagement) - Oliver appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.