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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SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Navy NCIS TV.com Page


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, September 25

Wrecked - "The Dark Prince Returns" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
With Karen gravely injured, Owen and Danny must journey to the center of the island to defeat Chettywompwomp; Florence learns more about Karen's back story; Pack, Todd and Jess face a futile task.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 24)

Tuesday, September 25

  • Sofia Vergara (Modern Family/The Knights of Prosperity/Hot Properties) - Catch Sofia on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • David Alan Grier (The Cool Kids/The Carmichael Show/Life with Bonnie/DAG) - David appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. He will also be on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • America Ferrera (Superstore) - America visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Ted Danson (The Good Place/Becker/Cheers) - Ted is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Judy Greer (Kidding/Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) - Judy stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC. She will also be on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Natascha McElhone (Californication) - Natascha is a guest on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Norm Macdonald (The Show Norm/A Minute with Stan Hooper) - Norm drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Tom Arnold (Roseanne/The Jackie Thomas Show/Tom/The Tom Show) - Tom appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Ricky visits LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • The Cast of Modern Family - Ed O'Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez are guests on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Rapaport (Atypical/The War at Home) - Michael appears on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • The Cast of Rel - Lil Rel Howery, Sinbad, Jessica "Jess Hilarious" Moore and Jordan L. Jones are guests on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry will be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy/The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Sanaa dishes on her new Netflix movie Nappily Ever After on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Leighton Meester (Single Parents/Making History) - Leighton talks about Single Parents on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am, on GMA Day at 1pm and on the BUILD Series at 2pm.
  • Ron Livingston (Loudermilk) - Ron talks about A Million Little Things on the BUILD Series at 4pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (August/September)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season Step by Step - The Complete Second Season Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season

08/07 - Happy Endings - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
08/15 - A.P. Bio - Season One
08/28 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Five
08/28 - Man Seeking Woman - The Complete Third Season
09/04 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season 12
09/04 - Mom - The Complete Fifth Season
09/04 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Fifth Season
09/04 - Superstore - Season Three
09/04 - Young Sheldon - The Complete First Season
09/11 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season (Blu-ray)
09/11 - The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season
09/11 - Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season
09/11 - People of Earth - The Complete Second Season
09/18 - Community - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
09/18 - Step by Step - The Complete Second Season
09/18 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fourth Season
09/25 - Blondie - The Complete 1957 Television Series
09/25 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season
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