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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New on DVD/Blu-ray (May)

Mister Ed - The Final (Sixth) Season C.P.O. Sharkey - The Complete Season 1 The Nanny - The Complete Series Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Third Season The Wonder Years - Season Three

05/05 - Cheers - The Complete Series
05/12 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete Fourth Season
05/12 - The Hotwives of Orlando - The Complete First Season
05/12 - Mister Ed - The Final (Sixth) Season (Shout! Factory)
05/19 - American Dad - Volume 10
05/19 - C.P.O. Sharkey - The Complete Season 1
05/19 - The Larry Sanders Show - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
05/19 - Married with Children - Season Nine (Mill Creek)
05/19 - Married with Children - Season Ten (Mill Creek)
05/19 - Married with Children - Seasons Nine and Ten (Mill Creek)
05/19 - Married with Children - Seasons Nine and Ten (Mill Creek)
05/19 - NewsRadio - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
05/19 - Welcome to Sweden - The Complete First Season
05/26 - Hello Ladies - Season 1
05/26 - The Nanny - The Complete Series
05/26 - Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Third Season
05/26 - The Wonder Years - Season Three
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Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, May 24

Fresh Off the Boat - "Persistent Romeo" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Louis has to hire a professional instructor (guest star Brett Gelman) to give the restaurant staff a sexual harassment seminar after Jessica’s attempts fall flat. Meanwhile, Eddie tries to pass off the seminar’s instructional tape as a “dirty movie” to his friends in an attempt to impress them and get them to come to his house for a sleep over.

Fresh Off the Boat - "Showdown at the Golden Saddle" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Things are looking up for the Huangs when Louis gets the restaurant a billboard in a prime spot in Orlando. They even get an invite to the country club. But when someone repeatedly vandalizes the billboard, they’re left wondering why. Eddie works hard to get the attention of the girl he’s crushing on (Luna Blaise as Nicole), but it doesn’t help matters when his mom hires her to babysit him.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 25) (All times ET unless noted)

Monday, May 25

  • Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) - Watch Thomas on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Rainn Wilson (The Office) - Rainn is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Elisha Cuthbert (One Big Happy/Happy Endings) - Elisha appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Billy Crystal (The Comedians/Soap) - Billy is a guest on a repeat of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
  • Rhys Darby (How to Be a Gentleman/Flight of the Conchords) - Rhys appears on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Mila Kunis (That '70s Show/Family Guy) - Tune in to see Mila on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Josh Hopkins (Cougar Town) - Josh is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Tia Mowry (The Game/Sister, Sister) - Tia whips up a meal in the kitchen and talks about her new Cooking Channel show Tia Mowry at Home on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) - Simon is a guest on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 1am on BET.
  • Rex Lee (Entourage) - Rex talks about the new film Entourage on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Cristela Alonzo (Cristela) - Cristela guest co-hosts The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly) - Billy is a guest on People Now.
  • Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie talks about his new album Hollywood, speaks out about The National Anthem controversy, and throws down some celebrity impressions with Billy and Kit on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.