I remember when there was only one Criminal Investigation show and it was in Las Vegas. The buzz was how they could piece together scraps of evidence to form a case against the eventual perpetrator. Now we have ones in Miami, New York and I heard they were pitching one for Sister Mary’s School for Girls. (those nuns are deadly with rulers) However, in the redundant search for DNA and hair follicles; there is one rather unique gem in NCIS or better known as Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The series boasts both dramatic and comedic elements and has to date posted very strong ratings. But how would season four relate to DVD and does the show continue its strong impressive form?
At the beginning of season four, Leroy Jethro Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon) has retired to south of the border and the NCIS force is left to their new leader, Tony DiNozzo (played by Michael Weatherly). Tony does his best to lead the staff which includes Tim McGee (played by Sean Murray), Ziva David (played by Cote de Pablo ) & Michelle Lee (played by Liza Lapira). The season is dubbed “The Season of Secrets” as we start finding out various things about the cast and certain things they have done or situations they find themselves in. Some are interesting, some are provided for comic relief. However, they aren’t revealed to the cast until the last episode (the audience sees it in bits and pieces throughout the season) in a dramatic cliff hanger show guaranteed to get us back into season five. (which is enjoying the usual great ratings NCIS has come to expect)
The interesting thing about NCIS is that the best characters are the ones who operate behind the scenes. This belongs to Forensic Specialist Abby Sciuto (played by Pauley Perrette ) and Chief Medical Examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard (played by David McCallum). Abby is not only beautiful but enetertaining as she examines evidence while wearing the oddest of Goth clothing. Meanwhile Ducky tells you everything you never wanted to know about dead corpses (he also frequently talks to them). However, you realize after two episodes of NCIS that Mark Harmon’s character Leroy is the glue that holds the series together. He officially returns to the lead post in the third episode and brilliantly leads the fascinating cast from start to finish. His meticulous nature helps to bring each case to its conclusion while keeping the rest of the special agents in check.
Strong 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen presentation is presented here with strong colors and a fantastic backdrop. The effects and action were ramped up this season and it shows to even the casual eye. There is not much soft here and this show has great presentation in each and every scene.
Audio is provided in both 5.1 and 2.0 English Dolby Digital. The show is very robust in sound for a Network show, far outpacing similar efforts. Explosions make use of surrounds as do casual voice chatter fully using the 5.1 format. The only down side that can be seen is the complete lack of subtitles. This can be frustrating as they do deal with foreign counterparts from time to time. Some of which the average person will have difficulty understanding.
- Automatic Trailers:Criminal Minds Season 2 & Ghost Whisperer Season 2.
- Previews:Dexter Season 1, CBS/USA Montage of Crime Shows, Twin Peaks Gold Box Edition, & Mission Impossible Season 2.
- Cast Roundtable – Part One 18:03: The seven regular cast members answer questions and share stories at a restaurant in Burbank, California. Interesting odds & ends here about how they broke into the business. I like the fact that they are actually eating and not just picking at their food.
- Commentary for “Twisted Sister”: Good and decent length commentaries are found on Disc 3 through Disc 6 that include everybody from the director to the stars of each and every episode. Solid information throughout.
- Cast Roundtable – Part Two 17:43: More from the same restaurant with the same cast of characters. Interesting moment is when Mark Harmon gets up and starts refilling everybody’s water. I guess he doesn’t quite like the service he’s getting. As much as they are probably paying; you think they refill water a little more frequently.
- Commentary for “Dead Man Walking”
- Ducky’s World 5:33: A quick trip into the Medical Examiner’s life and the differences between real life examination and the show. They are honestly pretty close together and really mirror what one would do given the role.
- Behind the Set: Production Design of NCIS 9:48: All the factors that go into making a set for each and every scene of NCIS. Amazing how much work and detail goes into a particular scene. Equally amazing how it goes down so quickly after usage.
- Commentaries for “Skeletons”, “Grace Period” & “Cover Story”
- Dressed to Kill: Dressing the Sets of NCIS 6:04: Lynn Wolverton-Parker takes us on a journey of how they furnish each of the sets. Technology certainly helps how they catalog each and every piece they use in any given scene of NCIS
- Prop Master 7:13: The master of tricks, errr the master of props; George Tuers shows off his section of goodies. From the simplest things like watches to more complicated things like firearms; he really does seem to have it all in a tiny area to work with.
- Commentary for “Angel of Death”
- Picture Perfect: Looks of NCIS 9:50: Director of Photography: William Webb takes on a journey of how each episode of NCIS is shot and presented to the viewer. He prefers a hands on approach and explains how he accomplishes that.
- The Season of Secrets 2:45: Executive Producer Donald P. Bellisario takes on a brief journey of the season that has been dubbed the Season of Secrets. It is mostly a throwaway segment that recaps some of the things that happened on the show this season.
Despite the fact that I had never seen a NCIS episode in my life, I was able to pick up the show very quickly. Leroy Gibbs is an awesome character and a fun way to pilot each and every episode. The supporting cast is also equally entertaining with strong performances for the most part. In their attempt to mix humor with dramatic elements, they certainly succeed. Only at a few points would one consider the humor inappropriate. The disc is equally strong including substantial video and audio and a slew of extras. The only difficult part was the fact that the extras were spread across all six discs. Sure they do this to optimize space but it makes it confusing too. It’s funny that a show that was introduced in the eight season of Jag as a spin off has done so well. One hundred episodes strong, one can only hope it continues for a while. Strongly recommended.
Dead and Unburied
Once a Hero
Friends & Lovers
Dead Man Walking
Brothers in Arms
In the Dark
Angel of Death
Other Coverage & Reviews
- Filefront.com: “NCIS Crew Rocks Out to Guitar Hero”
- CurrentFilm.com: “”NCIS” continues its strong run with an entertaining and often intense fourth round of episodes.”
- HomeTheaterForum.com: “Abby’s Goth look and attire is certainly eccentric and fun, but would a military operation really allow someone to dress this way at work no matter how superb she was at her job?”