NCIS: The Fifth Season – DVD Review
by Danny Cox on August 30, 2008
Available at Amazon.com

One of the best series I had never seen continues to thrill me as the fifth season of NCIS shows me what had been missing from my weekly viewing schedule. What bothers me so much is that since season two when I first started reviewing the seasons on DVD, it’s hard for me to watch the series in its usual timeslot. Seasons two and three were reviewed by me while seasons one and four were gifts to me so my brain could be caught up on everything NCIS. Now season five is in my grasp and things are finally get to where they should have been from the pilot episode. Everything is caught up, I can get ready for season six, and my attention is still being held at ransom by a series that needs to get everyone out to sea.

If you have never seen or heard of NCIS before, then let me brief you on it. The NCIS, or Naval Criminal Investigation Service, is a team of investigators who specifically work within the jurisdiction of the United States Navy and Marines. They are a great team of men and women working to solve any and all crimes that may happen to or from our uniformed “heroes.” These people may be the ones fighting to keep our country safe, but they aren’t above the law and the NCIS looks to bring those who go down the wrong paths to justice.

NCIS took the twist of putting criminals behind the lines of our armed forces, and added it to a crime drama crowd that was getting overtly similar. No longer are we only dealing with common murdering street thugs or high-class millionaires trying to run a laundering scam. This time it’s the high profile men and women in the Navy who are losing their lives or choosing to turn to the other side of the law in order to get ahead. It really does add a bit of variety the tons of big city dwellings we’ve been used to seeing.

Things get even better in this season as the action just gets more and more intense. One of the most obvious changes in the fifth season is the higher death toll that comes into play. There are more victims to murder, more deaths of arch enemies, and even the killing off of one of the NCIS team makes this a big body count. It is almost as if they tried to steer away from drugs or robberies or other types of lighter crimes so they could go down a darker path and keep it edgy. I’ll admit that it made each episode dealing with murder or death that much more exciting because the mood got more intense and everything took on a more serious tone.

Some of the best episodes of the season come at the very beginning and then towards the end. “Bury Your Dead” starts everything off with a bang and a flashback with an arms dealer the team has faced off with before. Then things slow down a little bit, but heat back up midway through as secret after secret is revealed about team members and criminals they are facing off with. That is another quality I love about the fifth season is how much information is given forth about everyone on the show making you get even closer to the team and the people they’re after. Just when you think it’s starting to slow down again, then comes the insane and extremely volatile two-part season finale “Judgment Day.” The team deals with losing one of their own and then possibly not being able to work together in finding the suspect. Emotions run high and the danger turns to maybe losing another member of the team, Gibbs.

NCIS was first introduced to me about a year ago when season two came my way to review. It caught my interest a little bit. Season three then arrived on my doorstep for review and my fascination with the series grew. After that I wasn’t privileged enough to review season four but purchased it on my own because I had to know what happened next. Now this most recently completed season has come and gone making me so anxious for the beginning of the new fall season and a brand new set of episodes of NCIS. I’ve grown to love the characters and become really connected with them which makes this series so much better and more personal. It’s one of those shows that seems like a lot of other ones, but goes off in totally new directions making you sit up and take notice. And once you’ve taken notice, you’re going to stick around a while.

Episodes

Disc One:

Bury Your Dead: The shocking truth to a major secret is revealed with an explosive and deadly conclusion in the final showdown between the NCIS team and an elusive arms dealer.

Family: A startling discovery in an autopsy of a murdered Petty Officer leads Ducky and the NCIS team to search for a missing child. Meanwhile, Tony’s feelings for Jeanne become more pronounced.

Ex-File: While investigating the murder of a Marine captain, Gibbs comes face to face with his past when a witness in the case turns out to be his ex-wife.

Identity Crisis: The NCIS team uncovers a web of criminal intrigue after Ducky determines that an unidentified cadaver is a career felon with unmistakable ties to a criminal mastermind.

Disc Two:

Leap Of Faith: Suicide can be murder for the NICS team. While attempting to talk to a Naval officer from jumping to his death, Gibbs and his team discover a connection between the officer and a murder.

Chimera: While investigating a mysterious death aboard a top-secret naval research ship, Gibbs and the NICS team discover an abandoned ship in the middle of the sea and a killer secret that could cost them their lives.

Requiem: Gibbs finds himself at the center of an emotional journey into his past after he agrees to help the childhood friend of his late daughter. The soul-searching situation takes a deadly turn that leads to a shocking and heart-stopping conclusion.

Designated Target: The NCIS team meets an African political refugee searching for her husband while investigating the assassination of a Navy admiral.

Disc Three:

Lost & Found: A nine-year-old’s father, wanted in connection with a cold case murder, goes missing. The NCIS team baby-sits the boy as the father leads them into the wilderness for a startling discovery about his past.

Corporal Punishment: A violent, delusional Marine, believing he’s still in Iraq, escapes from a hospital in the U.S. After a violent confrontation, the NCIA team realizes too late that the soldier is the subject of a secret experiment.

Tribes: The investigation into the mysterious death of a Muslim Marine is delayed when Ducky refuses to autopsy the Marine because of the soldier’s religious beliefs.

Stakeout: The NCIS team sets up a stakeout to catch a suspected thief, but instead they witness a murder. Uncharacteristically, Ducky keeps a secret from the others.

Disc Four:

Dog Tags: After a dog is accused of mauling its owner to death, Abby risks her career in order to prove the dog’s innocence. Meanwhile, Jenny’s secret captures Gibbs’ attention.

Internal Affairs: La Grenouille, a notorious arms dealer, is killed and the FBI puts the NCIS team under investigation for the murder with Jenny Shepard as the prime suspect.

In The Zone: A mortar attack in Baghdad becomes a murder crime scene when two members of the NCIS team are sent to investigate.

Recoil: Ziva’s undercover assignment trailing a serial killer turns deadly when the man she’s tracking becomes suspicious of her.

Disc Five:

About Face: A mysterious killer is after the only man who can recognize him, Ducky’s assistant Jimmy Palmer.

Judgment Day (Parts 1 & 2): An NCIS team member is murdered. Now, Gibbs leads the others in a thrilling search for the killer.

The episodes are shown in 16:9 Widescreen format and look excellent. The colors are very sharp and bright in all situations including some great explosions. The darker scenes like deep in the forest or in a shipping container are easily seen but still keep the closed in feel about them. Each episode looks great and it really is a very nice transition to DVD.

The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and also sound great. The deeper and more dramatic moments are quiet in the background and loud where they need to be with the dialogue. The surround sound really kicks in during the intense action scenes with gunfire and explosions sounding like they are coming at you from all sides.

Audio Commentaries – “Dog Tags,” “Recoil,” and “Requiem” each have two different actors sit down for commentary. They share a lot of laughs and talk more about what the episodes are about then anything. Not bad listens.

N.C.I.S. Season 5: From Stem To Stern – Cast and crew are here to discuss a little bit about what the show is all about. Then they go into a small bit of season four and eventually talk all about the fifth season. One of the best things talked about here is ongoing storylines. They acknowledge that it is best to wrap up storylines in one whole episode, but they keep little nods and clues to previous plots around all the time so that fans will catch on. Nice touch. This feature runs seventeen minutes and twenty seconds.

The Dressing Room: The Costumes And Wardrobe Of N.C.I.S. – This fourteen minute featurette is pretty self-explanatory, but still fun to check out. Everything from skirts to jumpsuits to dresses to suit and ties is explained as to who they are picked out for and for what reason. Neat knowing how much thought goes into picking out costumes for murder victims.

N.C.I.S. On Location – I always find it interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes of a television series, and more then just being on the set and watching the cameras roll too. Producers talk about how they have to know exactly where they are shooting at first and sometimes do so even before a script is finished. They need to go out and scout locations or use ones they already have and sometimes just build them from scratch. Sure that may be common knowledge to most, but it’s still cool watching them do it. This feature lasts ten minutes and eleven seconds.

From Pauley To Abby: Hairspray, Lipstick, And Tattoos – Ok, another easy to explain feature as it sees Pauley Perrette transform into her character of Abby including make-up, wardrobe, hair styling, and so on. This feature runs for ten minutes and forty-three seconds and is extremely boring. I’m sorry, but it just is. And I love Abby, but this is just tortuously long.

Requiem Revisited – This ten minute and forty-eight second feature takes a much deeper long at one of the more dramatic and great episodes from the season, “Requiem.” So much happens in this episode that it really does take watching it two or three times to really let it all sink in (no pun intended…you’ll see). But this feature does a good job of checking things out, dissecting certain parts, and really bringing to the forefront what the importance of every action is.


Well, the show itself is getting better and better with each coming season, but that doesn’t mean the special features are. Let’s start first with the series itself and I’ll tell you right now that it is just phenomenal. Never did I think that I’d like a show like this or be able to take Mark Harmon in any serious role after watching him in Summer School. But needless to say, the show is awesome. It really needs to be checked out by anyone who enjoys a good crime drama that has gotten incredibly serious and intense while staying new and not getting stale. The special features do a few things right with the behind the scenes stuff for checking out the locations and costumes, but not much else works except for “Requiem Revisited.” The audio commentaries are nothing special and “From Stem To Stern” just goes over what we watched in the episodes already. Meanwhile that special feature with Abby is just blah. But don’t go getting or not getting this set based on how the special features are. Get it for the sheer brilliance of the series itself and how you can fully prepare yourself for the upcoming sixth season. All aboard!

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Paramount presents NCIS: The Fifth Season. Created by: Donald P. Bellisario & Don McGill. Starring: Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette, Sasha Alexander, Sean Murray David McCallum, Lauren Holly, Cote de Pablo. Running time: 836 minutes on 5 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: August 26, 2008. Available at Amazon.com



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