Hooray for Donald Bellisario and his decision to create prime time television shows with various branches of the armed forces! But in this case, NCIS takes advantage of the craze of all the CSI related shows that have sprouted up over the last several years. But with various jump cuts and clips of music that are interspersed with it, it’s still hard to make the distinction.
And to make things even more confusing, the show features a grouchy leader who utters the occasional g…ib remark in Leroy Gibbs (Mark Harmon, St. Elsewhere), the female voice of reason in Kate Todd (Sasha Alexander, Mission Impossible: III), the young stud who frequently clashes with Gibbs when it comes to style points in Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly, Dark Angel), and the resident tech geeks in McGee (Sean Murray, Hocus Pocus) and Abby (Pauley Perrette, Brother Bear).
So what the NCIS does is investigate criminal matters that fall within the realm of Navy and Marine control, and tries to find out what kinds of bad things happened to those sailors and grunts. And with Bellisario’s extensive resource of military contacts, things shift to various locales across the world, including some interesting stories with Iraq War veterans and World War II Medal of Honor recipients, to name a few.
All in all, Bellisario’s got to be given big ups for continuing to portray the military services in a positive light, however clichéd the cast may be for some of them, but all in all, NCIS makes for entertaining viewing away from the normal forensic shows.
So the show’s in widescreen, but the audio is just in a two channel surround? Ohh…K. The score and sound effects all sound fairly strong, but the dialogue just comes across a little on the flat side.
1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, presumably since the film was probably presented in high definition. So nice points for airing in widescreen, but it doesn’t look the same as other high def shows, even a little bit hazy during viewing, even if the haze wasn’t consistent during each episode. Still, it should have looked a bit better, considering this is barely two years old.
Well, the usual run of the mill extras on every television season and surprisingly, NCIS sees its second season of DVD in six months, so bully to them. There are four episodes on each disc with the exception of the last one, and even though there are no extras on Disc One, Disc Two features a commentary with Chas Floyd Johnson, the executive producer. He talks about the usual challenges of getting the show on air. On Disc 6, “Twilight” features a commentary from Paulette, Weatherly and writer John C. Kelley. Obviously, this one is more jocular because well, there are more participants, but it also covers some of the recollections about the episode and the acting between the actors that are on the commentary, and some that aren’t.
Moving onto some other extras, “Investigating Season Two” is your standard look at the season of the show (and to the producer’s credit, they warn you with a spoiler card beforehand). The cast and crew talk about whether they thought the show would turn into a hit, and discuss in some detail how things evolved from Season One into Season Two. The main focus of the feature is Bellisario, and he recalls in detail what he pitched and how some of the cast members were written out of the show, which was pretty cool. But still, I dunno how Harmon can say it’s one of the better ensemble casts he’s worked with when he was on a show written by Tom Fontana and co-starring Denzel Washington, for God’s sake, but that’s a minor complaint I have. “What’s New in Season Two” is just that, talking about what changed from the first season, who came, who went, etc, some of the style, technical and production choices the show employed too. “The Real NCIS” focuses on those individuals who are the real Gibbs, Kate, etc., and Perrette shows off the set that is her main home on the show.
NCIS is a tighter paced, more entertaining show that the larger Naval Judicial big brother that mildly spawned it. While some of the dynamics among the actors are a little bit haggard and pretentious, they still manage to keep things fresh with some compelling stories to tell. It’s a definite recommendation to start watching and adding to your Season Pass list.
Special Features List
- Selected Episode Commentary
- Season Two Overview
- Season Two Preview
- Inside the Real NCIS
- Set Tour