NCIS: THE FOURTH SEASON
I love NCIS. For some reason, this show, above all others, is my personal favorite. Is it the best thing since sliced bread? No, it isn’t even the most thought provoking police procedural on television. The biggest appeal to NCIS is the simple fact that the show is fun. I really get a kick out of watching NCIS because the characters are well defined and genuinely interesting, not to mention, there is a good deal of character based humor interspersed throughout the episodes, which considerably ratchets up the fun factor.
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 (Mark Harmon), a former Marine sniper with a no nonsense approach, who absolutely will not quit until the case is solved. Special Agent Anthony Dinozzo (Michael Weatherly) is a "veteran" of three separate civilian police departments, and is Gibbs’ right hand man, not to mention consummate skirt chaser. Officer Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) is a Mossad agent serving as a liaison at NCIS on Gibbs’ team due to a bond she has form with him, not to mention her past experience with NCIS Director Shepard. Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) is a computer expert, in addition to being a published spy thriller author, who spends much of his time assisting with the technological aspects of investigations. Forensics Specialist Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) is the quirky Goth girl responsible for analyzing the physical evidence coming into NCIS. NCIS Director Jenny Shepard (Lauren Holly) is Gibbs’ immediate superior, although they were once partnered as field agents, as well as on a more personal level. Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum) is the NCIS Chief Medical Examiner, a man of the world, who just happens to have a story or anecdote for every occasion. Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) is Dr. Mallard's assistant, who offers a good deal of comic relief.
NCIS: THE FOURTH SEASON ($65) comes to DVD in a six-disc set that features the following twenty-four episodes that were aired in year four: Shalom, Escaped, Singled Out, Faking It, Dead And Unburied, Witch Hunt, Sandblast, Once A Hero, Twisted Sister, Smoked, Driven, Suspicion, Sharif Returns, Blowback, Friends & Lovers, Dead Man Walking, Skeletons, Iceman, Grace Period, Cover Story, Brothers In Arms, In The Dark, Trojan Horse and Angel Of Death. Although every crime is generally solved within the show's hour-long time slot, season four of NCIS builds an extended story arc involving an uncharacteristic serious romance for one of the leads, as well as the hunt for an international arms dealer.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all of the episodes that comprise NCIS: THE FOURTH SEASON available on DVD in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that feature the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. In general, the episodes look really good, delivering a sharp and nicely defined image that bests an SD broadcast, but trails HD. Colors are nicely saturated and the flesh tones are appealing. Blacks are on the money and the whites are crisp. Contrast is better than average for a television production and the lighting does try to avoid sitcom flatness. The episodes generally appear very clean. Film grain can be noticeable during the course of the episodes. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.
All of the episodes featured in NCIS: THE FOURTH SEASON come with good quality Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. NCIS is a talky police procedural and the sound design reflects that. Occasionally, there are active channel separations, but the reliance on the outlying channels isn’t overly dramatic. Surround usage is primarily comprised of ambient sounds and musical fill. Fidelity is solid for a TV production, the theme music sound really and the effects hold their own. Dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand. An English Dolby Surround track has also been provided, although no subtitles are included.
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 some extras. Running Audio Commentaries have been provided for the following six episodes: Twisted Sister, Dead Man Walking, Skeletons, Grace Period, Cover Story and Angel Of Death. Eight featurettes are also included on the set. Cast Roundtable Part 1 (eighteen minutes answering fan questions), Cast Roundtable Part 2 (almost another eighteen minutes answering fan questions), Ducky's World (five minute tour of autopsy), Behind The Set: The Production Design Of NCIS (nine minutes), Dressed To Kill: Dressing the Sets Of NCIS (six minutes), Prop Master (seven minutes) and Season Of Secrets (two minutes on story arcs).
As I stated above, I love NCIS and as police procedurals go, I think the show is a whole lot of fun. The DVD collection looks and sounds just fine. If you are a fan, NCIS: THE FOURTH SEASON is another must have- highly recommended.
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