Friday, August 22, 2008
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
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Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Sunday, February 7
The Simpsons - "Treehouse of Horror XXVI" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
In an encore of the annual fright fest Halloween episode, Sideshow Bob finally kills Bart, only to reanimate him; Homer wakes up with short-term memory loss; and Lisa, Bart, and Milhouse get super powers from radiation.
Bob's Burgers - "Sliding Bobs" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Bob notices that he has started to lose his hair. In a wave of nostalgia, Linda reminisces about Bob’s mustache and how it made her fall for him years ago. Meanwhile, the kids tell their own versions of the story of how their parents met.
The Simpsons - "Halloween of Horror" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Lisa becomes scared at the Krustyland Halloween Horror Night, Homer is forced to take down his Everscream Terrors decorations. Halloween pop-up employees seek vengeance on Homer for causing them to lose their jobs, and rob his house while Homer and Lisa hide out in the attic. Homer and Lisa light up their stored holiday decorations to attract attention and stand up to the intruders.
Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life - "How to Survive Your Loveable Jackass" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After sales for their hangover cure are slower than expected, the guys decide to take part in a drug trial for quick cash, but their plans are unexpectedly derailed by Paul Abdul (guest-starring as herself). Meanwhile, Kelly faces an awkward situation after spending time with Leslie and Josh.
Family Guy - "Pilling Them Softly" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Stewie is diagnosed with ADD and prescribed Adderall, which Brian takes to write a 2000-page proposal to pitch to author George R.R. Martin at a book convention. Meanwhile, Quagmire and Peter compete, Iron Chef-style, to determine which of them gets to keep his new cooking show.
Bordertown - "Borderwall" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Bud fights to get a border wall constructed using confiscated drug money, only to have the wall destroy the economy, leaving him jobless. He then begins smuggling immigrants under the wall to make ends meet.
Sunday, February 7
- Tina Fey (30 Rock) - Catch Tina on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert after the Super Bowl on CBS.
- Adam DeVine (Modern Family/Workaholics) - Adam is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden on CBS.
- Brie Larson (United States of Tara/Raising Dad) - Watch Brie on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Rebel Wilson (Super Fun Night) - Rebel visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Fred Savage (The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Fred appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Gillian Jacobs (Community) - Gillian is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm. She also talks about Love on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
- Keke Palmer (Scream Queens/True Jackson, VP) - Keke appears on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
- David Koechner (F Is for Family/Hank/The Office) - David will be on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Kevin Nealon (Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Kevin appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Jim Jefferies (Legit) - Jim is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) - Ray stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Julie Bowen (Modern Family) - Julie visits The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Ben Feldman (Superstore/A to Z/Living with Fran) - Ben discusses Superstore on The Meredith Vieira Show (check your local listings) and on People Now.
- Rachael Harris (Surviving Jack/My Boys/Notes from the Underbelly) - Rachael talks about Deadpool on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Sherri Shepherd (Less Than Perfect/Sherri) - Sherri takes viewers behind the scenes of the Super Bowl on The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Rhea Seehorn (Whitney/I'm with You) - Rhea talks about Better Call Saul on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Britt Lower (Man Seeking Woman) - Britt is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.