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 24
The Big Bang Theory - "The Discovery Dissipation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Leonard and Amy help Sheldon cope with the shame he’s feeling after his accidental contribution to science is disproved. Meanwhile, Raj must stay with Howard and Bernadette for a week.
The Millers - "Driving Miss Crazy" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Nathan gets frustrated after he’s forced to drive Carol around town for errands once again, he demands that she either learn how to drive or find another chauffeur. But when Debbie volunteers Adam to drive Carol, everyone’s surprised when they form an unexpected bond.
Welcome to Sweden - "Proving Love/Lagenhet" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Bruce (Greg Poehler) and Emma (Josephine Bornebusch) move into an apartment in Stockholm and Bruce tries his best to introduce himself to the neighbors. Meanwhile, the couple is forced to prove their relationship at the immigration office, but the interviews don’t go quite as planned. Elsewhere, Emma suspects one of Bruce’s former clients, Aubrey Plaza (guest starring as herself), may be stalking him, while another, Amy Poehler (guest starring as herself), is in desperate need of his professional assistance.
Working the Engels - "Jenna's Friend" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Jimmy (Benjamin Arthur) gives their grandmother’s ring to a stripper, Jenna (Kacey Rohl) is forced to intervene to get it back – and makes an unlikely friend in the process. Meanwhile, Sandy (Azura Skye) wins free mother/daughter hip-hop classes and brings Ceil (Andrea Martin) along, but they quickly realize the class isn't meant for them. Ceil is ready to get out of there, until a former friend makes fun of Sandy, and then Ceil is determined not only that they stay, but that they win the dance competition. Rachel Wilson, Rebecca Dalton and Shawn Byfield guest star.
Married - "The Shower" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
A.J. and Jess hijack Russ and Lina's night out.
You're the Worst - "Insouciance" (FX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Jimmy attempts to take Gretchen on a date.
Love That Girl - "The Hot Seat" (TV One, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Imunique agrees to throw a bachelorette party for DeMiracle's fiance.
Thursday, July 24
- David Duchovny (Californication) - Catch David on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
- Mary Lynn Rajskub (How to Be a Gentleman) - Mary Lynn stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Mo'Nique (The Parkers) - Mo'Nique appears on a repeat of The Arsenio Hall Show, so check your local listings.
- Wanda Sykes (The New Adventures of Old Christine/Wanda at Large) - Wanda is a guest on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Tune in to see Kristin on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) and Nat Faxon (Married/Ben and Kate) - Judy and Nat talk about their new FX series Married on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. They will also be on HuffPost Live.
- Adrienne Barbeau (Maude) - Adrienne discusses her role in the Hallmark Movie Channel original movie The Memory Book on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Greg Poehler (Welcome to Sweden) - Greg is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Leah Remini (The King of Queens/Family Tools) - Leah appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
- Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig will be on Larry King Now at 2/5pm PT/ET on Ora.tv and Hulu.
- Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling (Mystery Girls) - Jennie and Tori are guests on Fox & Friends on Fox News Channel at 7:45am. Jennie will also be on HuffPost Live.