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 (March)

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series Bewitched - Seasons 5 & 6 (Mill Creek) Maude - The Complete Series WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete First Season (Shout! Factory) The Donna Reed Show - Season 2 (MPI Home Video)

03/03 - CHiPs - The Complete Third Season
03/10 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series
03/10 - Hey Dude - The Complete Series (Walmart Exclusive)
03/10 - Petticoat Junction - Family Favorite Episodes
03/17 - Bewitched - Season 5 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Bewitched - Season 6 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Bewitched - Seasons 5 & 6 (Mill Creek)
03/17 - Maude - The Complete Series (Shout! Factory)
03/17 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete First Season (Shout! Factory)
03/17 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Second Season (Shout! Factory)
03/24 - The Donna Reed Show - Season 2 (MPI Home Video)
03/31 - Silicon Valley - Season 1 (Blu-ray)
03/31 - Veep - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, March 27

Cristela - "Latino 101" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Trent picks Cristela to sit at his table for the trial of a landlord accused of not renting to minorities. But his reason for doing so – to show a minority on the landlord’s side – backfires on him, and Cristela must decide whether to use an advantage she did not earn through hard work. Meanwhile, as Alberto starts bonding with Natalia, Daniela becomes suspicious that perhaps he’s “using Ama to get in good with Cristela.

Cristela - "Great Expectations" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Cristela is tasked with persuading Maddie to improve her work ethic; while Daniela is away on a work trip, Felix must take care of the kids by himself.

Jessie - "Karate Kid-tastrophe" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Emma gets into trouble at school and Jessie is unsure of how to handle it; Luke trains Zuri for her upcoming karate belt test.

Girl Meets World - "Girl Meets First Date" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Cory agrees to let Lucas take Riley on a date but only if Maya and Farkle go with them as chaperones.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 23) (All times ET unless noted)

Friday, March 27

  • Norm Macdonald (Norm) - Watch Norm on a repeat of The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Will visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Cedric the Entertainer (The Soul Man/The Steve Harvey Show) and Niecy Nash (The Soul Man/Getting On/Reno 911!) - Cedric and Niecy are guests on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Laurie Metcalf (The McCartyhs/The Big Bang Theory/Roseanne) - Laurie appears on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 3am on BET.
  • Jeremy Piven (Entourage/Ellen) - Jeremy joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Wanda Sykes (The New Adventures of Old Christine/Wanda at Large) - Wanda guest hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) - Jim visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Nick Zano (One Big Happy/What I Like About You) - Nick stops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Christian Slater (Breaking In) - Christian co-hosts NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Linda Cardellini (The Goode Family/Guys Like Us) - Linda will be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.