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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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Navy NCIS TV.com Page


New on DVD/Blu-ray (July)

Archie Bunker's Place - Season One (Mill Creek) Married with Children - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) Playing House - Season 1 Growing Pains - The Complete Fifth Season WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Third Season

07/07 - Archie Bunker's Place - Season One (Mill Creek)
07/07 - Barney Miller - The Final (Eighth) Season
07/07 - Married with Children - Season Eleven (Mill Creek)
07/07 - Married with Children - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
07/07 - The Michael J. Fox Show - The Complete First Season
07/07 - Playing House - Season 1
07/14 - Growing Pains - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
07/14 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Third Season
07/28 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites - Season 7
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Monday, August 3


2 Broke Girls - "And the Fat Cat" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
A handsome businessman returns Max and Caroline’s missing cat, Nancy, who comes home with a big surprise.

The Odd Couple - "Heal Thyself" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Felix’s hypochondria kicks into overdrive when Oscar starts dating the most important person in Felix’s life – his doctor. Erinn Hayes guest stars as Sharon, Felix’s doctor.


Significant Mother - "Welcome to Bonetown" (The CW, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Series Premiere)
Budding Portland restaurateur Nate's (Josh Zuckerman) world is turned upside down when he comes back from a business trip to find his lothario best friend and roommate, Jimmy (Nathaniel Buzolic), is now dating his recently separated mother, Lydia (Krista Allen). To make matters worse, Nate's previously disinterested dad, Harrison (special guest star Jonathan Silverman), is now determined to win Lydia back and isn't afraid to use Nate to get what he wants. Stuck between his family feud and his best friend's first serious relationship, Nate's "new normal" forever changes his relationships with his parents, and severely handicaps his own dating life. Read our review.


Odd Mom Out - "Wheels Down" (Bravo, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Jill is forced to choose between Vanessa's birthday party and Brooke's 1980s prom-themed gala; Andy tells Jill about Lex's relationship with his assistant; at Brooke's event, Candace reveals secrets that shatter the family's perfect facade.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 3) (All times ET unless noted)

Monday, August 3

  • Jerrod Carmichael (The Carmichael Show) - Watch Jerrod on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Jeremy Piven (Entourage/Ellen) - Jeremy appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jessica St. Clair (Playing House/Best Friends Forever/In the Motherhood) and Lennon Parham (Playing House/Best Friends Forever/Accidentally on Purpose) - Jessica and Lennon are guests on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC and on the AOL Build Show.
  • Matt LeBlanc (Episodes/Friends) - Matt appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Don Cheadle (House of Lies/The Golden Palace) - Don visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ed Helms (The Office) - Ed is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Al Madrigal (About a Boy/Free Agents/Gary Unmarried) - Al will be on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/The Office) - Ellie appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso is a guest on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kevin James (The King of Queens) - Kevin appears on repeats of Rachael Ray and The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Eddie Kaye Thomas (Off Centre/American Dad!) - Eddie is a guest on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Olivia Munn (Perfect Couples) - Olivia joins the Chew Crew on a repeat of ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Jill Kargman (Odd Mom Out) - Jill will be on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York sometime between 7-10am.
  • Candace Cameron Bure (Fuller House/Full House) - Candace talks about her new book Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am, on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET, and on HuffPost Live at 2:30pm.
  • Anna Chlumsky (Veep) - Anna is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.