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 (December/January)
12/06 - Family Guy - Season Fourteen
12/13 - American Dad! - Volume 11
12/13 - Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season
01/03 - Girls - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
01/10 - Broad City - Season 3
01/17 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized)
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume One
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two
01/24 - Hooperman - Season One
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
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Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Wednesday, January 18
Fresh Off the Boat - "Clean Slate" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
On the eve of Chinese New Year, Jessica pushes the entire family to settle all debts, disputes and grudges to ensure good fortune for the coming year. Unsure if she can contain her temper for the remainder of the day, Jessica enlists Emery to makes sure she keeps her cool. Meanwhile, Louis and Evan go on a wild goose chase to hunt down some hate mail, and Eddie is forced to entertain his super lame cousin.
Speechless - " S-I-- SICK D-A-- DAY" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Maya gets sick, Jimmy is forced to be the mom of the house, and Dylan becomes Kenneth’s replacement for JJ when Kenneth also gets sick. Jimmy ends up doing well with Maya’s normal duties, but he tries to keep it from her to avoid her feeling bad. Meanwhile, JJ protects Dylan from a boy she’s interested in. And despite its illness, the family bands together and pulls an all-nighter to finish Ray’s school project.
Modern Family - "Halloween 4: The Revenge of Rod Skyhook" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Luke’s Halloween party isn’t the monster bash he dreamed of and is at risk of having the worst party of the year. Sensing trouble, the rest of the Dunphy’s realize all his party needs is a visit from Rod Skyhook, a little promotion and some adult supervision to get it started. Meanwhile at the Tucker-Pritchett home, Cam faces off with his Halloween nemesis while Lily and Mitchell try to save the day and work to keep him from going to the darkside. Finally, when Jay finds out that Manny is going to a party at the home of an old enemy, he enlists him to deliver a trick he will never forget.
black-ish - "Good Dre Hunting" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Bow convinces a begrudging Dre to try therapy, and he learns how to cope with his anger issues. Meanwhile, Johan becomes a life coach to the kids.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "Old Lady House: A Situation Comedy" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Charlie thinks Mac's mom is holding his mom hostage so the gang installs spy cameras in their house to monitor what's going on. What they end up discovering is the moms are quite entertaining once Dennis makes some quick edits and adds a laugh track to the surveillance footage. Dee wants in on the new hit show and Frank becomes obsessed with banging Charlie's mom now that he's seen her on TV.
Man Seeking Woman - "Horse" (FXX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Lucy attempts to forge a relationship with Josh's best friend Mike.
Schitt's Creek - "The Throuple" (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
David and Stevie try to come to terms with their new relationship; Alexis and Moira plan a mother/daughter lunch.
Wednesday, January 18
- Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Watch Wendi on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He also talks about The Founder on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- Louie Anderson (Baskets/Life with Louie/The Louie Show) - Louie appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Michael Keaton (Working Stiffs/All's Fair) - Michael is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Woody Harrelson (Cheers) - Woody stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) - Eric appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Ted Danson (The Good Place/Becker/Cheers) - Ted visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Judah Friedlander (30 Rock) - Judah is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Stark Raving Mad/Doogie Howser, M.D.) and B.J. Novak (The Office) - Neil and B.J. are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. Neil can also be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM at 10:20am.
- Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry and his wife Rebecca Romijn chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Christian Slater (Breaking In) - Christian guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Friends) - Matt appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Patrick Warburton (Crowded/Rules of Engagement/Less Than Perfect) - Patrick is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
- Kirstie Alley (Cheers/Veronica's Closet/Kirstie) - Kirstie dishes about the new season of Scream Queens and her weight loss with Jenny Craig on The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.