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Right out of the box let me say that NCIS is one of my favorite, if not, my favorite series currently on television. NCIS is the one show that I absolutely have to see on a weekly basis, so it should come as no surprise that I am completely tickled that the series is being released on DVD. Based upon a real U.S. government agency, NCIS is a character driven television series that places a CSI styled police procedural inside the realm of the military. While this description may sound cut and dried, the show is anything but, thanks to a healthy dose of action, as well as the series having its own very distinct sense of humor. For the uninitiated, NCIS stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, whose primary mission is to prevent and solve crimes that threaten the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, as well as prevent terrorism.

Although the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has a worldwide presence, the NCIS television series is based out of the agency’s Washington D.C. headquarters and follows the investigative team headed up by Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), a former Marine with a no nonsense approach, who absolutely will not quit until the case is solved. The newest member of team is Special Agent Caitlin "Kate" Todd (Sasha Alexander), who comes to NCIS by the way of the Secret Service. Special Agent Anthony Dinozzo (Michael Weatherly) is a "veteran" of three separate civilian police departments, is Gibbs’ right hand man, not to mention consummate skirt chaser. Forensics Specialist Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) is the quirky Goth girl responsible for analyzing the physical evidence coming into NCIS. Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum) is the NCIS Chief Medical Examiner, a man of the world, who just happens to have a story pr anecdote for every occasion. Future series regular Sean Murray portrays computer expert Agent Timothy McGee on a reoccurring basis during season one.

NCIS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($65) comes to DVD in a six-disc set that features the following twenty-three episodes that were aired in the show’s freshman year: Yankee White, Hung Out To Dry, Seadog, The Immortals, The Curse, High Seas, Sub Rosa, Minimum Security, Marine Down, Left for Dead, Eye Spy, My Other Left Foot, One Shot, One Kill, The Good Samaritan, Enigma, Bęte Noire, The Truth Is Out There, UnSEALed, Dead Man Talking, Missing, Split Decision and A Weak Link, Reveille.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made all of the episodes that comprise NCIS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on DVD in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This being a relatively new show, the episodes look great on DVD. Sharpness and detail are first rate for a television production, plus the colors are rendered with terrific saturation and pleasing flesh tones. Contrast is generally good for this type of enterprise, with no sitcom flatness to the lighting. Film grain is somewhat noticeable in places, but the elements are free from debris. Digital compression artifacts are never a concern.

All the episodes that comprise NCIS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON come with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtracks, which decode to standard surround. Again, let me state my preference for discrete 5.1 channel tracks, but the material remains fairly well served by the matrixed surround. As a talky police procedural, NCIS most of the sonic information is localized to the forward soundstage with the rears adding bits of ambience and musical fill. Fidelity is solid for a television series; music has a genuine sense of presence and the sound effects are reasonably lively. A Spanish language track has also been encoded on the DVD, but no subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Series co-creator/executive producer Donald P. Bellisario is on hand to provide a running audio commentary on the episode Yankee White. NCIS: Creating Season 1 is a ten-minute overview of the putting the series first year together. NCIS: Building The Team clocks in at twenty-one minutes, and looks at the characters and the actors that bring them to life. NCIS: Defining The Look provides an eight-minute glimpse at creating the series visual style.

As I stated above NCIS is one of my favorite, if not, my favorite show currently on television and I am absolutely delighted that the show has begun appearing on DVD. With the series currently at the end of its third season, I hope the next two collections will be released fairly quickly. As for Paramount’s DVD release of NCIS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, the set looks great and sounds just fine. If you are a fan, or someone looking to check the show out for the first time, NCIS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON comes highly recommended.



NCIS Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The Complete First Season (2003)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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