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 (May)
05/03 - Mad About You - The Complete Series
05/03 - The Jim Gaffigan Show - Season One
05/10 - Newhart - The Complete Fifth Season
05/17 - Angie Tribeca - The Complete First Season
05/17 - The Facts of Life - The Final (Ninth) Season
05/24 - The Wonder Years - Season Five
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Wednesday, June 1
Modern Family - "Playdates" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Claire and Phil have dinner plans with this great couple they met on vacation; the only problem is they never pick up the bill, so Claire insists Phil be strong this time and make them pay. Gloria organizes a playdate with a couple that appears to have a lot in common with them – they also have a young son Joe’s age, but the husband is in his eighties and Jay takes it very personally. Elsewhere, Haley, Alex and Luke are surprised when Uncle Mitchell comes over to cash in on the birthday coupon they gave him for a belated celebration, so they scramble and end up on an impromptu tour of celebrity homes.
The Goldbergs - "Edward "Eddie the Eagle" Edwards" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Barry sees underdog Eddie the Eagle in the Olympics, he decides to popularize Ball Ball in order to gain respect at school. Meanwhile, Beverly catches wind that Murray’s store sales are down and intervenes by selling the latest furniture craze.
Young & Hungry - "Young & Hawaii" (Freeform, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Gabi and a fellow traveler pose as newlyweds at a couples-only resort in Hawaii.
Baby Daddy - "Trial by Liar" (Freeform, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Riley puts Danny on trial for breaking her heart after she discovers he once hooked up with Sam.
Lopez - "George Needs Vegas" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
George's frustrations keep mounting due to troubles with the communities at both his Beverly Hills and San Fernando properties. He needs to get away from it all.
The Soul Man - "White Trash" (TV Land, 10:30PM ET/PT)
With everyone blaming Boyce for the garbage strike, he is determined to put an end to it with or without Mayor Saxby's help. Alicia has a surprising offer for Stamps, and Barton is stretching himself too thin.
Schitt's Creek - "Happy Anniversary" (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Johnny and Moira see a couple they knew in a past life; Alexis and David go to Mutt's annual barn party.
Wednesday, June 1
- Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) - Watch Bryan on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) - Andy is a guest on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He discusses his new film Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
- Dakota Johnson (Ben and Kate) - Dakota appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Ashton Kutcher (The Ranch/Two and a Half Men/That '70s Show) and Danny Masterson (The Ranch/That '70s Show) - Ashton and Danny are guests on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony appears on a repeat of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
- Riki Lindhome (Another Period/Super Fun Night) - Riki is a guest on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Rory Scovel (Ground Floor) - Rory appears on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- The Cast of The Big Bang Theory - Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch are guests on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Mackenzie Phillips (One Day at a Time) - Mackenzie reveals why we’re all one prescription away from being hooked on a repeat of The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
- Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld) - Jerry stops by Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- The Monkees - The Monkees perform on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
- Laura Marano (Austin & Ally/Back to You) - Laura is a guest on Fox & Friends on Fox News Channel at 7:22am. She talks about her acting and singing careers on the AOL Build Show at 3:30pm.
- Billy Ray Cyrus (Still the King) - Billy Ray talks about Still the King on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.