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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Bob's Burgers - "The Frond Files" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT)
Bob and Linda visit school and learn that their kids' essays about their fantasy version of Wagstaff are "too creative" and "offensive." Eugene transforms the school into a "Fart School for the Gifted" (watch out for Keyboard Jail); Tina, to her delight, depicts a world where she is romanced by countless zombie teenage boys; and Louise creates a school where she takes down a robotic Mr. Frond from the future ("We need more creamed corn!").
The Simpsons - "Diggs" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
Bart is rescued from a confrontation with Springfield Elementary's bullies by Diggs (guest voice Daniel Radcliffe), a recent transfer student and aspiring champion in the niche sport of falconry. But, Bart soon discovers that Diggs wants to do more than just wrangle falcons: he wants to take to the sky himself.
The Simpsons - "The Man Who Grew Too Much" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
On a research trip, Lisa is shocked to discover that Sideshow Bob is now the chief scientist at a massive chemical engineering company, but her fears are allayed as she becomes enamored with his likeminded appreciation of high-culture. Meanwhile, Marge's attempt to preach healthy sexual practices to a teen church group goes awry.
Family Guy - "Mom's the Word" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Peter's mother passes away, he forms a special friendship with her longtime pal, Evelyn (guest voice Lauren Bacall), who attempts to seduce Peter. Meanwhile, Stewie is distraught when he understands the reality of death for the first time.
Liv and Maddie - "Slump-A-Rooney" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Maddie and Willow are excited to try out for the school's varsity softball team but Willow is in a slump and Maddie figures out why.
I Didn't Do It - "If It Takes Like a Brussels Sprout" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jasmine and Logan invent a spray that makes vegetables taste even more delicious.
Austin & Ally - "Cupids & Cuties" (Disney Channel, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Trish is nervous about an upcoming visit from a boy she has a crush on and acts strangely when he takes her on a date.
Monday, March 10
- Steve Harvey (The Steve Harvey Show) - Watch Steve on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He also chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) - Demi stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) - Andy appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Busy Philipps (Cougar Town) - Busy visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Minnie Driver (About a Boy) - Minnie is part of the guest panel on Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
- Kevin Nealon (Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Weeds) - Kevin drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Nia Long (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Zulay Henao (Love Thy Neighbor), Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) and Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs) - The cast of The Single Moms Club are guests on The Arsenio Hall Show, so check your local listings.
- Paul Scheer (The League) - Paul appears on The Pete Holmes Show at midnight on TBS.
- Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) - Ray appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Krysten Ritter (Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - Krysten talks about her new movie Veronica Mars on The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
- Jennie Garth (What I Like About You) - Jennie joins Clinton Kelly and prepares a savory layered dish with mushrooms and polenta and discusses her new book (Deep Thoughts from a Hollywood Blonde) on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Marcia Gay Harden (Trophy Wife) - Marcia chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Wendi McLendon-Covey and Troy Gentile (The Goldbergs) - Wendi and Troy will be on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings. Wendi will also be on The Better Show, so check your local listings.
- Chris Lowell (Enlisted) - Chris talks about the new Veronica Mars movie on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Jenna Elfman (Growing Up Fisher/1600 Penn/Dharma & Greg) - Jenna is a guest on The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
- The Cast of Mixology - The cast of Mixology will be guests on Pop Sugar on TV Guide Network at 6pm and on the next day on their website at noon.