Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mini-DVD Review: NCIS - The Third Season (April 24)

Welcome to another Saturday edition of mini-DVD reviews! Today we we take a look at CBS DVD's Third Season of Navy NCIS. See Seth Thrasher's mini-DVD review of NCIS - The third Season and:

NCIS - The Third Season (CBS, $64.99) is yet another in a recent string of aggravating CBS DVD releases, this time of the wonderful third season of the hit CBS series. This is when *I* really got into the series -- I had watched the episode some beforehand, however, my college roommate at the time (Jacob) loved the series, and so I watched it with him, and it grew to be a favorite of *mine* as well. One of the things I’ve always loved about this show -- a trait expanded upon further as time has gone on, is that the show is more about the characters than the actual crime scene stuff. A lot of other crime series fail to focus on the characters, and while this makes them great for syndication (see: Law & Order, CSI), they bore me. NCIS is different -- the crime story is only a component of the more important character drama.
This season marks a real change for the show. At the very end of the past season, Ari Haswari, continuing his vendetta against Gibbs (Gibbs being the original target), kills Kate. Needing a replacement for her on the team and on the cast, they bring in Cote de Pablo, playing easily one of my favorite characters on the show, Ziva David -- a Mossad agent and Ari’s former control officer. Also debuting is the new NCIS director Jenny Shepard (played by Lauren Holly), who is a former love interest of Gibbs and a character that would come to serve as a wonderful counterpart and foil to Gibbs on the show.
The first two episodes of the show are devoted to finding -- and killing Ari. Sasha Alexander continues to play Kate -- this time as her ghost -- for these first two episodes...this is a great couple of episodes you just have to see to believe. Absolutely quality television that was what ultimately sold me on the show. In another personal favorite, Ziva and DiNozzo pose as married assassins, and find out who wants who killed. In the next episode, for some reason, every piece of evidence collected for a murder seems to point to...DiNozzo. In Model Behavior, the gang investigates the death of a model that is killed while taping a reality show on a Marine base. In Boxed In, Ziva and DiNozzo are investigating a naval stockyard for illegal weapons, and come under fire. They are forced to take cover in a container, and are subsequently locked in. A few more episodes pass and we’re to the season finale, Hiatus, in which a bomb explodes as Gibbs contacts an undercover agent on a foreign ship, killing the agent and placing Gibbs in a coma. Gibbs does still have some flashbacks while out. Tony then becomes the head of NCIS as the team investigates a crew member of the ship whose gone missing and may have something to do with things. Shepard, in part 2, contacts Gibbs’ first partner, trying to help a now awake but amnesiac Gibbs regain his memory -- as only Gibbs knows of an impending terrorist attack.
I had to trim that section, as I really do enjoy pretty much the entire season start to finish -- those were just some of *my* personal favorites, your mileage may vary. Now for the part I find significantly more unpleasant, and something that the majority of other reviewers at Sitcoms Online have already had to rant about. On the back of the box is the dreaded words “Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions.” However, I didn’t even have to check the runtimes before I noticed the first consequence of the Paramount-to-CBS DVD changeover -- the menus have gone from the wonderful S1/S2 menus to plain and generic menus. Each menu features a generic science-type background with cast members posing in front, and all three-menu options in static text to the right. This is just pathetic. In addition, clicking on episode selection just brings up a text list of episodes. One of the few redeeming features is that there are still special features. That redeems this set. However, I’ll get to that in a minute. Video quality is nice -- widescreen is perfectly preserved. Audio is a wonderful Dolby Digital 5.1.
As I mention, the dreaded text is on the back of the box. I have the 3rd season in original broadcast, and will provide that list of runtimes to the forums in a day or two. It’s possible these could be music errors, which if true will mean I can’t provide a list of edits for a couple of days. Check the forums, the Sitcoms Online News Blog, or my personal blog in a few days. The DVD runtimes vs. the copies available in the iTunes music store have the DVD usually a few seconds (between 1-8 seconds) ahead of the iTunes episodes. Two of them are exact and two of them iTunes have a slight higher run time. Now I’m just confused. Did they adjust dialogue? Did they adjust camera angles? Was there music replacement? Unfortunately, there’s no way to know the answer due to deadline constraints without spending the additional $40 to buy the iTunes copies – presuming they’re not edited themselves – to find out. I’ll attempt to discover what edits exist – if anything – in the coming days. Heck, it’s possible the changes are additions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Still, if that text is there, there *has* to be something, otherwise they’ve done nothing to aggravate fans.
After over 1000 words, and I still haven’t even discussed the special features. With CBS DVD’s recent track record, I was worried about a lack of them, but they’re here. Features are split evenly over the discs. Audio commentaries from cast and crew, plus the following features: The Real NCIS Declassified, Hit the Head Montage, The Women of NCIS, NCIS - Season of Change, and The Round Table. Three of the features are obvious what they’re about, the other two don’t really tell much.
On the surface, this set only getting a mini-review seems obvious – it’s not a sitcom, and the previous two sets were straightforward. But with the CBS DVD changeover and all the recent controversy their sets have caused, in addition to the glut of special features and the quality of the season itself, this just wasn’t enough space to adequately describe this interesting set. But that’s the thing with editing down something – you cause the audience to lose certain things that – sometimes they’re just padding, but sometimes by editing you cut out important material, something CBS DVD/Paramount has GOT to learn, otherwise they’re wasting everyone’s time and money by even doing TV DVDs.
NCIS is one of the better CBS DVD sets since the changeover – even better when you factor out Odd Couple S1, which is certainly a special case. Still, the concept of edits bothers me – even if I couldn’t find them immediately, and the shoddy menus compared to before is just inexcusable. That said, there’s nothing – unlike most other recent CBS DVD releases – that prevents this from being a perfectly watchable and enjoyable show and release. RECOMMENDED.

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher
(4/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Navy NCIS TV.com Page


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, October 5

The Conners - "Driving, Dating and Deceit" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mark is anxious to get his driver’s license when a job opportunity presents itself across town. Darlene attempts to teach him to drive, but her frantic energy sends him running to Ben for help. Meanwhile, Harris meets a new guy online, whom Becky recognizes from her past.

The Golbergs - "Jenkintown After Dark" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Despite promising to keep distance from Brea so they can each establish themselves at college, Adam calls her, sending Beverly into a tailspin. Meanwhile, Joanne lands a coveted job at a posh Philly law firm and Barry takes full advantage of the perks of her new gig, blinding him from the reality of the situation.

Abbott Elementary - "Story Samurai" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
A traveling storytelling troupe Jacob used to be in visits Abbott Elementary for a day of education and entertainment. Jacob can’t wait to share this part of his past with his colleagues; but when he realizes they think the performers are corny, Janine does her best to help him embrace his nerdy side. Meanwhile, Melissa struggles with the new normal of her combined second and third grade class.

Home Economics - "Sushi for Twelve, $482 Plus Delivery" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
With a house full of Hayworths, nothing is off limits for discussion – including Tom and Marina’s lives in, and out, of the bedroom. Connor’s patience as host is running thin so as a thank you, Sarah and Denise strategize a creative way to show their appreciation.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 3)

Wednesday, October 5

  • Kevin Nealon (Man with a Plan/Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Watch Kevin on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith) - Kelly appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Fred Armisen (Los Espookys/Forever/Final Space), Ana Fabrega (Los Espookys) and Julio Torres (Los Espookys) - Fred, Ana and Julio are guests on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Cedric the Entertainer (The Neighborhood/The Last O.G./The Soul Man/The Steve Harvey Show) - Cedric appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Lena Dunham (Girls) - Lena is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jennifer Tilly (Out of Practice) - Jennifer appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 3:30am on Bravo.
  • Lea Thompson (Caroline in the City) - Lea is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Kal Penn (Sunnyside/Deadbeat/We Are Men/How I Met Your Mother) - Kal discusses his impressive journey from former White House staffer and actor to author, and why he chose to share details about his engagement to his fiancĂ©, Josh, in his book, You Can't Be Serious, on Tamron Hall, so check your local istings.
  • Utkarsh Ambudkar (Ghosts/White Famous) - Utkarsh talks about Ghosts on CBS Mornings sometime between 7-9am.
  • Wendell Pierce (The Odd Couple/The Michael J. Fox Show/The Weber/The Brian Benben Show/The Gregory Hines Show) - Wendell talks about Death of a Salesman on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Tamera Mowry-Housley (Sister, Sister/Roommates) - Tamera talks about You Should Sit Down For This on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June-October)

The Neighborhood - Season Four Young Sheldon - The Complete Fifth Season The Adventues of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Five Mr. Mayor - The Complete Series (DVD) Abbott Elementary - The Complete First Season

06/14 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Eleventh Season
06/14 - Hacks - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
06/14 - Rutherford Falls - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
06/21 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season One / The Complete Season Two
07/19 - The Neighborhood - Season Four
07/19 - Reno 911! - The Hunt for QAnon (Blu-ray) (DVD)
07/26 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Three / The Complete Season Four
08/16 - And Just Like That... - The Complete First Season (Warner Bros. - Canada)
08/16 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Fourth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
09/06 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
09/20 - Kim's Convenience - The Complete Series
09/27 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Five / The Complete Season Six
10/04 - Mr. Mayor - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (DVD)
10/04 - The Munsters - Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Cast
10/18 - Abbott Elementary - The Complete First Season
More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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09/17 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Saturday Night Live Adds New Cast Members for New Season; Streaming Media Mergers in the Works?
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