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NCIS - The Complete First Season



DVD Release Date: June 6, 2006 (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Color / 2003-04
MSRP: $64.99
Number of Discs: 6
Number of Episodes: 23
Running time: Approx. 1000 Minutes
Running time of Special Features: 85 minutes 32 seconds.
Audio Tracks: Dolby Digital English 2.0 Surround. Spanish Stereo. Closed Captioned.
Video: 1.78:1 Widescreen (NON-Anamorphic)
Special Features: Commentary on Yankee White by Donald P. Bellisario; NCIS: Creating Season 1; NCIS: Building the Team; NCIS: Defining the Look


N.C.I.S: The Complete First Season follows an elite team of special agents who operate outside the military chain of command. Led by Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), a tough, highly skilled investigator who’s willing to bend the rules to get the job done, this tight-knit crew travel the world investigating everything from murder and espionage to terrorism and kidnapping in this 6-disc set featuring all 23 pulse-pounding episodes from this unique and dynamic show.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

I’ll admit, my appreciate for NCIS really doesn’t kick in until this past season, with the addition of Ziva…that said though, there IS definitely a lot of quality television in this season. The original pilot, which was a JAG 2-parter, wasn’t included in the set, so we basically have to wait for the 2002-2003 season of JAG to see it, barring Paramount including it, say, on NCIS Season 2 (hint…hint).

Yankee White is the first episode. A Navy commander carrying the football (the list of all nuclear codes) on Air Force One collapses mid-flight and dies. Anyone want to guess why THAT’S bad? In High Seas, two sailors from the same ship overdose on meth, despite their claims of never having touched the drugs. In Sub Rosa, Gibbs and Kate investigate the possibility of an impostor on board a nuclear sub. In Minimum Security, a mysterious death leads Gibbs and the team into the heart of the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In the fun description department, in Eye Spy, a satellite operative inadvertently witnesses a murder while spying on a nude sunbather. In Bete Noire, an unknown terrorist enters the NCIS headquarters and takes several members of the team hostage. In the season finale, Reveille, Gibbs determination to track down the terrorist from Bete Noire becomes an obsession that concerns his entire team.

List of Guest Stars:
Gregory Itzin (24): Yankee White. Seadog
Lawrence Pressman (Doogie Howser, MD): Yankee White
Patrick Labyorteaux (JAG): Hunt Gout to Dry
James Morrison (24): Eye Spy
Stacy Haiduk (Seaquest: DSV): My Other Left Foot


If you hear one packaging type described nowadays, you’ve heard them all. It is three two-disc holding slim cases inside an outer box. The front cover has Gibbs, Kate, Dinozzo, Abby, and Ducky (the main season 1 cast), with Gibbs being the front most cast member, on the left. Dinozzo is the next closest on the far right. Kate’s to Gibb’s immediate right, farther back in the shot than Dinozzo. Abby is in roughly the middle of the art, near the back. Ducky is in the back, between Abby and Dinozzo, his head barely peeking through. Below them is a gold-hued NCIS logo. The cast just stands around randomly on the back cover, with no particular rhyme or reason. On the front cover of slim case 1 is Gibbs. Kate and Abby are on the cover of slim case 2 (strange combo) while Dinozzo and Ducky are on the cover of the third slim case (strangest combination). The entire cast is on Disc 1, with the same art as the main box cover. The same shot of Gibbs as is on the slim case 1 cover is on Disc 2. Kate is on Disc 3, Abby is on Disc 4, Dinozzo is on Disc 5, and Ducky are on Disc 6. Each disc but the final one (6) holds 4 episodes each, as such, the breakdown is 1-4/5-8/9-12/13-16/17-20/21-23 + Features.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are well done, but something surprised me right off the bat: they aren’t using the NCIS theme on the menus. In the center of the screen, video clips from the episodes clap. Various computer displays house the menu options above and below the clips. Previews (Disc 1 only) / Set Up / Features (Disc 6 Only) are on the top, while the episode titles are immediately selectable from the bottom. Yankee White has a screen that allows you to choose whether or not to turn commentary off or on, the rest go straight to the episode. The Set Up menu only allows you to choose audio languages. It does feature a nice cast picture from the first season. It also uses the computer-type system. I know I’m not describing this menu as well as I could, but I really don’t know what to call it. Special features use a similar style, but use five individual photos side-by-side.

Video and Audio Quality:

Well, the video’s definitely an improvement over some Paramount sets I’ve viewed lately, but those little annoying red/blue/green grains still show up a lot of the time. Particularly seems to be noticeable on LCD screens. More noticeable against most backgrounds if you pay attention, but it shouldn’t overtly affect your viewing in a negative way – just a nitpick. Audio is a well-executed Dolby Digital 2.0 track. There are no audio defects to be found, at least by me. Chapter stops are at scene starts. One thing you’ll notice with these episodes is that video that comes from outside sources, such as the Air Force One footage in the first episode, looks MUCH worse than the regular video.

Yankee White: 44:14
Hung Out to Dry: 44:15
Seadog: 42:59
The Immortals: 43:58
The Curse: 43:58
High Seas: 42:52
Sub Rosa: 44:25
Minimum Security: 44:18
Marine Down: 43:40
Left for Dead: 44:18
Eye Spy: 43:46
My Other Left Foot: 44:23
One Shot, One Kill: 42:16
The Good Samaritan: 43:35
Enigma: 44:17
Bete Noire: 44:18
The Truth is Out There: 43:08
Unsealed: 44:25
Dead Man Talking: 44:26
Missing: 44:25
Split Decision: 44:21
A Weak Link: 43:14
Reveille: 43:54

Special Features:

Commentary on Yankee White: One thing you’ll notice is Donald’s tendency to point out “there’s a stock shot”, “there’s a stock shot”, “there’s a CGI shot”. He likes to point out every one he can. Getting someone to hold their eyes still while they’re “dead” is so tough they usually just freeze the frame--lots of production-related thoughts. I don’t know why they didn’t have more than one commentary track. Also talks a lot about Mark Harmon. This feature runs 44:14.

NCIS: Creating Season 1. Donald Bellisario felt he had been micromanaging JAG for WAAAY too long, and wanted to do something else. Believes the NCIS cast is the best cast he ever put together – better than Magnum, better than Quantum (he references both!), better than JAG. Donald says he felt the humor part of the show was essential. A lot of other shows with military characters wrote the characters as cardboard cutouts, and as a lot of the guys on this show had military experience, they knew better, so they proved otherwise. NCIS reminds Donald a lot of Magnum – says it’s not as much about forensics or solving the crime so much as how much the characters interact. Agree completely. 10:49

NCIS: Building the Team. There are shows you can take the dialogue from 1 character and give it to another – not possible on this show. Each character is SO unique that it just…works. While the previous feature was just crew, this features interviews with some of the cast, Mark Harmon in particular. A lot of the humor is ad-libbed, while other parts ARE scripted. The entire rest of the season 1 cast is interviewed as well. 21:54.

NCIS: Defining the Look. NCIS was a relatively cheap pilot for the network, which made CBS happy. This is a lot of the production elements being discussed, as well as the early days working with the cast to help them work on the characters – each actor got an actual special agent to work with to help with the characters. This show, it’s discussed, brought a lot of attention onto the real-life NCIS, which definitely helped that agency, as beforehand it was problematic for the real-life NCIS at times, particularly with the press.--since the show launched, not so much. NCIS gives NCIS a lot of access, which gives them an opportunity to do subjects other shows wouldn’t. 8:35

Total Runtime of Special Features: 85 minutes 32 seconds.

Final Comments:

I’m not a fan of most forensic type shows, but as Don Bellisario so well points out, the forensic aspect is in many ways secondary to the dynamic between the characters, and I admit that’s why I watch, and why I love this show. Don’t care one bit about the cases, or the forensic methods used to solve them: I’m interested in the CHARACTERS.

This is a great show. There are a couple minor video issues on the set, but it’s nothing major…the show itself is great, the features that are here are nice, and overall, it’s a nice set. For the hopeful season 2 release, given the casts willingness to do interviews, I’d see if I could arrange more, and possibly try to work it out for them to come in and do commentary – I’d love to hear their thoughts about episodes. I’d especially love to hear commentaries on Twilight (The episode where Kate dies). Also, this show just HAS to have bloopers – the blooper footage would make a nice addition to the set. Otherwise, definitely think everyone should pick this up. If you like forensic shows, well, you won’t be disappointed. Even if you’re like me and DON’T, I still think you’ll love NCIS, as it’s really more about the characters than anything. RECOMMENDED.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Final Score: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 06/02/06

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