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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Thursday, July 28
- Will Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) - Watch Will on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer (Broad City) - Abbi and Ilana are guests on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Eric Andre (Man Seeking Woman/2 Broke Girls/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - Eric appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristin is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) and Nick Jonas (Jonas L.A.) - Demi and Nick perform Carpool Karaoke on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Jillian Bell (Workaholics/Eastbound & Down) - Jillian appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Gillian Jacobs (Love/Commnity) - Gillian is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight. She will also be on Chelsea on Netflix.
- Joe Jonas (Jonas L.A.) - Joe stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Christina Applegate (Up All Night/Samantha Who?/Married with Children) - Christina is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS. She will also be on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
- Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) - Selena appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi is a guest on a repeat of The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
- Sarah Chalke (Scrubs/Roseanne) - Sarah appears on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Anson Williams (Happy Days) - Anson is a guest on a repeat of The Doctors, so check your local listings.
- Anna Gunn (Down the Shore) - Anna talks about her new movie Equity on NBC's Today in the 9am hour and on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
- The Cast of Bad Moms) - Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christina Applegate and others will be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- Ashley Tisdale (Clipped/The Suite Life of Zack & Cody) - Ashley talks about her latest project Amateur Night on People Now at 8:30am.
- Victoria Justice (Victorious/Zoey 101) - Victoria is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Ashley Williams (The Jim Gaffigan Show/Good Morning, Miami) - Ashley is a guest on People Now at 8:30am.