NCIS is a spin-off, of sorts, from the popular military lawyer show JAG. You could say that NCIS is the Order to JAG’s Law. The NCIS is a real government agency that deals with criminal activity inside or involving the US Navy or Marine Corps. The series has an incredibly global feel and honestly looks damn good for television. Production values are high, and the location stuff is out of this world, or at least all over it.
Special Agent Gibbs (Harmon) heads up this group of criminal investigators. Harmon has always been good, but I dare you to find a character he’s played better. He just eats up the part. You won’t have any trouble believing that Gibbs is the seasoned veteran investigator leading this team. Special Agent DiNozzo (Weatherly) is a former Baltimore homicide detective who often lets his determination run his investigation into trouble. He’ll bend a rule or throw a punch, whatever it takes to bring down the bad guy. The newest member of the team is Israeli Mossad Agent Ziva David, played by Cote de Pablo, a newcomer to television. She has the unenviable task of replacing popular actress Sasha Alexander who exited the show after 2 seasons. She is, perhaps, one of the most complicated characters I’ve yet to encounter in ensemble television. She’s difficult to read and shows a performance level beyond the scope of a beginner. Rounding out the cast are two very nice characters. Pauley Perrette plays the goth chick/forensic specialist Abby Sciuto. She reminds me a ton of the Penelope Garcia character from Criminal Minds. She’s flirty, far too informal for Gibbs, but is a lot smarter and tougher than she appears. Making himself more visible in this series is David McCallum as pathologist Ducky Millard. Ducky is the Quincy of the group as he checks out the bodies. His dry wit makes him my favorite character on the show.
NCIS combines elements from many types of genre shows which make it such a fresh series to watch. There’s a little bit of CSI along with a touch of Law & Order. You won’t have to look too hard to also see elements of JAG in there as well. While the soap opera aspects of the show run deeper than I like, I don’t find the relationship stuff here to be as intrusive as it was in JAG.
I’m happy to report that this season the focus is very much on the characters. In the last episode of season 5, the team was getting split up. Of course, we know they get back together, but there is much more exploration of the team here, perhaps because of the shake-up. We also get a ton of background material on pretty much every character. There’s a spy to root out, and one of the team members will end up getting killed in action. All in all it’s a very solid season to what is becoming an even better show with each year.
Each episode of NCIS is presented in its original broadcast 1.78:1 aspect ratio. At the time of airing you might not have been watching in HD, so these prints will be a welcome treat for you. While there is at times a bit of grain, the presentation is mostly pretty solid. There are some sweet ocean scenes that appear to shine in color and depth. There are a lot of earth tones here, so don’t look for a particularly bright mood in the presentation.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 offers a few nice ambient moments, but mostly you’re getting dialog here. It’s all fine and well placed; just don’t look for too much ear candy.
There are a handful of cast and crew Audio Commentary tracks on select episodes.
The extras are spread out over the 6 disc collection.
Disc 1: (This one starts with that CBS option of going to the main menu or the previews. Is this a joke? Does anyone really watch these things?)
Bodies Of Work: (16:19) You’ll see dead people. Visit the workshop where all of those corpses for the show are created. There was a very similar feature on a CSI set, further showing how closely these shows have started to come together.
Fear – A DVD Exclusive: (7:01) Pauley Perrette got to write and perform an original song of hers for the show this year. This feature looks at that and includes a recording session of an acoustic version of the tune.
Starting With A Bang: (10:09) Cast and crew talk about the season 5 cliffhanger where the team gets split up and how it feeds into the 6th season of the show.
Horsin’ Around: (9:22) This season includes a kind of western episode: South By Southwest. That means outside shooting and horses. This feature focuses on that episode.
Season 6 – Cruising Along: (15:33) Cast and crew look at the highlights of the season. Tons of behind the scenes stuff.
Six Degrees Of Conversation: (16:55) Entertainment Tonight visits with the cast for this informal chat. There’s a lot of clowning around as they watch clips from this season.
There’s no question, at least for me, that NCIS has far surpassed its mother show. Everything from the writing, acting, and production screams superiority here. JAG seems like a distant memory any more. So don’t waste anymore time here. Go out and add to your collection immediately. “You have ten days. Okay, I don’t wanna pressure you. So, twelve. But no more than two weeks.”