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 (July/August)
07/08 - The Monkees - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
07/12 - Grady - The Best of Grady
07/20 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 5th Season
07/26 - Family Matters - The Complete Seventh Season (WBShop.com)
07/26 - Where's Huddles? - The Complete Series (WBShop.com)
08/02 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete First Season (WBShop.com)
08/09 - Maude - The Complete Final (Sixth) Season
08/23 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Three
08/23 - Superstore - Season One
08/23 - The Wonder Years - Complete Series (New Slipcase Version)
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Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Tuesday, August 30
The Middle - "The Man Hunt" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Brick attends a Bar Mitzvah and questions when he’ll officially become a man, Mike attempts to help him become more responsible in his quest to manhood. Meanwhile, Sue exudes a little too much enthusiasm as she tries to flirt and find herself a boyfriend, and Axl and Hutch find themselves a new home in the form of a Winnebago.
Fresh Off the Boat - "Family Business Trip" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Louis is forced to bring his family on a business trip to Gator World, Jessica learns the art of relaxation and Eddie takes on the “Death Roll.” Meanwhile, Evan loses his last baby tooth but isn’t ready to join the big kid club.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Maximum Security" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
In an attempt to get information on a criminal operation, Amy has to go undercover at a women’s prison and befriend one of the prisoners (guest star Aida Turturro). Meanwhile back at the precinct, Holt and the team plan a fake funeral in an attempt to catch a hitman.
New Girl - "Return to Sender" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Jess meets Sam’s (guest star David Walton) female best friend, Diane (guest star Caitlin Fitzgerald). Meanwhile, Nick is worried Gavin (guest star Peter Gallagher) will disappoint Schmidt (Max Greenfield) again and Winston is offended by a reaction to a birthday gift.
In the Cut - "Best Foot Forward" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Kenny's new girlfriend's flaw; Jay embellishes his past gang affiliations and almost gets a Thug Lives Matter Award.
Tuesday, August 30
- Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Catch Zooey on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- John Krasinski (The Office) - John is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Justin Bartha (Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life/The New Normal) - Justin stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- David Cross (Arrested Development/Running Wilde) - David drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Kirstie Alley (Flaked/Kirstie/Veronica's Closet/Cheers) - Kirstie talks about Flaked on a repeat of The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
- Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Melissa is a guest on a repeat of LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Rami Malek (The War at Home) - Rami appears on a repeat of LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Fred Savage (The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Fred chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. He also guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Mario Cantone (Sex and the City) - Mario chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Norman Lear (Producer of All in the Family/Sanford and Son/One Day at a Time/The Jeffersons/Good Times/Maude) - Norman is a guest on a repeat of Tavis Smiley on PBS, so check your local listings.
- Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) - Andy appears on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
- George Clooney (The Facts of Life/Roseanne) - George is a guest on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/In the House/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso appears on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 12:03am on BET or on your local stations.
- Jeremy Miller (Growing Pains) and Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family) - You grew up watching your favorite sitcom kids, but what happened behind the scenes when the cameras stopped rolling? The stars of Growing Pains, Everybody Loves Raymond and Danny Bonaduce from The Partridge Family break their silence. They reveal how they got hooked on drugs and alcohol and eventually overcame their battles with addiction on a repeat of The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
- Emeril Lagasse (Emeril) - Emeril will be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
- Henry Winkler (Happy Days/Out of Practice) - Henry is a guest on a repeat of Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.