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 (October/November/December)

2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series Hot in Cleveland - Season Five Sgt. Bilko - The Phil Silvers Show - The Complete Series
Family Ties - The Complete Series Happy Days - The Sixth Season The Jeffersons - The Complete Series Mister Ed - The Complete Series Mork & Mindy - The Complete Series

10/07 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Classic Christmas Episodes
10/07 - The Flying Nun - The Complete First and Second Seasons (Mill Creek)
10/07 - The Middle - The Complete Fifth Season (Warner Archive)
10/07 - The Office - The Complete Series
10/07 - The Wonders Years - Season One
10/10 - The Wonder Years - The Complete Series - TARGET="_blank">Read Our Review / The Signature Edition / Seasons 1-3
10/14 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season
10/14 - Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season
10/21 - Married with Children - Seasons 5 and 6 (Mill Crek)
10/21 - The Soul Man - The Complete Second Season
10/21 - Square Pegs - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
10/28 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series
11/04 - Hot in Cleveland - Season Five
11/04 - Napoleon Dynamite - The Complete Animated Series
11/04 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Complete Series
11/11 - Dads - The Complete Series
11/11 - Family Ties - The Complete Series
11/11 - My Favorite Martian - Best of Collection
11/11 - Taxi - The Complete Series
11/11 - Wings - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/18 - King of the Hill - The Complete Seventh Season / The Complete Eighth Season
11/25 - Better Off Ted - The Complete Second Season
12/02 - Happy Days - The Sixth Season
12/09 - Barney Miller - The Complete Sixth Season
12/09 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mister Ed - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mork & Mindy - The Fourth Season / The Complete Series
12/16 - The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis - The Final (Fourth) Season
12/23 - My Favorite Martian - Season Two - Collector's Edition
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, October 22

The Middle - "The Table" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
As Frankie and Mike wish each other a happy 20-somethingth wedding anniversary, Axl decides that he and Hutch need to class up their broke-down house and find another roommate to help with expenses. But while helping Axl track down a dining room table to help spruce up his house, Frankie finds a full dining set on sale online for $50 and ends up giving Axl the Heck house dining room table, while she excitedly looks forward to her new purchase. Meanwhile, after being presented with a special necklace to proclaim his love, Sue becomes angry with her boyfriend, Darrin, when she discovers that he had also given the same gift to his former girlfriend. And Brick begins a podcast. Jimmy Kimmel guest stars as himself.

The Goldbergs - "Shall We Play a Game?" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Adam inadvertently gets Barry kicked out of the cool group (Jenkintown Posse) of friends at school and must come up with a plan to get his brother back in. Adam convinces Barry and his friends he has the skills to hack into the school computer system to change their grades, but does he? Later, Beverly is immediately jealous when she learns Erica hangs out with a friend’s cooler mom and sets out to show Erica she can be cool too.

Modern Family - "Won't You Be Our Neighbor" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Phil is selling the house next door and he and Claire are excited by the prospect of having wonderful new neighbors, but that quickly turns into panic when a loud and obnoxious couple (guest stars Steve Zahn and Andrea Anders) come to look at the house. Jay forbids Manny to see his new girlfriend when he realizes she’s the granddaughter of his biggest business rival, leading to a clash of the closet titans. Elsewhere, Mitch and Cam are determined to switch Lily out of Mrs. Plank’s (guest star Tyne Daly) class since she is known to rule with an iron fist – not to mention she scares them too.

black-ish - "Crime and Punishment" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Although Dre and Rainbow agreed they would no longer spank their kids, all bets might be off when Jack disobeys. Now, Zoey, Junior, Diane and a nervous Jack are afraid that their parents will go back on their word.

Melissa & Joey - "Witch Came First" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mel's doctor drops in on Halloween and reveals that Mel was once a teenage witch.

Baby Daddy - "Strip or Treat" (ABC Family, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Ben, Danny and Tucker end up in jail when their plans to attend a big Halloween party go awry.

The League - "Man Land" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Jenny's dad (Corbin Bernsen) takes the guys camping. Andre and Russell go into business together. Pete's new team name offends Kevin who refuses to say it.

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "The Restraining Order" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Keisha retaliates by serving Richard with a restraining order; Marcus brings in an attorney to help out his friend.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 20) (All times ET unless noted)

Wednesday, October 22

  • Jason Bateman (Arrested Development/The Hogan Family/It's Your Move) - Watch Jason on a repeat of The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Mike Epps (Survivor's Remorse) - Mike drops by Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent/Arrested Development/The Larry Sanders Show) - Jeffrey appears on a repeat of The Colbert Report at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
  • Craig Ferguson (The Drew Carey Show) - Craig is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls) - Kat stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Jenny McCarthy (Two and a Half Men/Jenny) - Jenny chats on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Henry Zebrowski (A to Z) - Henry is a guest on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Ty Burrell (Modern Family/Back to You/Out of Practice) - Ty appears on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. He also chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Fred Savage and Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) - Fred and Danica chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Tori Spelling (Mystery Girls) - Tori opens up about the cheating scandal that left her marriage in shambles, how she juggles four kids, business ventures and salvaging her relationship with her husband on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family/The Class) - Jesse visits The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Elise Neal (The Hughleys) - Elise is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.