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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Navy NCIS Page

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Monday, March 19

Kevin Can Wait - "Delivery Guy" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Vanessa convinces Kevin to go on a TV talk show with the “baby boy” he helped deliver years ago as a cop, but her plan to promote Monkey Fist backfires when Kevin runs into his arch-nemesis, Frank Munson (Ricardo Chavira), at the appearance. Michael Yo returns as Tom, a morning show host.

Man with a Plan - "March Madness" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Adam and Andi lose footage of an intimate moment they accidentally recorded, they have to track it down before anyone can see it.

Superior Donuts - "The Chicago Way" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Randy, who just passed the detective’s exam, is asked by her former supervisor, Ted (guest star Christopher McDonald), to talk to a female rookie who has filed a sexual harassment complaint against him. Also, Arthur’s usual arrangement with a city health inspector to ignore violations in the shop goes awry when a new by-the-book inspector shows up.

Living Biblically - "Thou Shalt Not Steal" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Chip infuriates his colleagues when he decides to follow the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Steal” and begins returning office supplies he stole.

American Dad - "" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Stan deals with childhood issues of abandonment, which affects his performance at work; Klaus builds a website based on Smith family fails.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 19)

Monday, March 19

  • Drew Barrymore (Santa Clarita Diet) - Watch Drew on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Adam DeVine (Workaholics/Modern Family) - Adam appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) - Kumail is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jenny Slate (Married/Parks and Recreation/Bob's Burgers) - Jenny visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) - Josh stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Burt Reynolds (Evening Shade) - Burt appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Krysten Ritter (Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - Krysten chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Allison is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Zach Woods (Silicon Valley/Playing House/The Office) - Zach drops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Billy Ray Cyrus (Still The King) - Billy Ray appears on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • The Cast of You Me Her - Greg Pohler, Rachel Blanchard and Priscilla Faia are guests on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly/Love & Money/Love, Sidney) - Swoosie talks about The Dangerous Book for Boys on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Nia Long (Uncle Buck/The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) - Nia talks about Roxanne Roxanne on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Jay Pharoah (White Famous) - Jay talks about Unsane on the BUILD Series at 1pm.