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DVD Review NCIS: The Twelfth Season DVD Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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NCIS: The Twelfth Season DVD Review

With its popularity unwavering and its writers continuing to delve into the psyches of each of its core characters, CBS’ number one drama NCIS had a sterling twelfth season. Delivering wonderfully involving puzzles each week interwoven with an easy-going banter between characters and introspective digs into what makes this family of people work so brilliantly as a team, NCIS ranked for the second year in a row as the most popular drama in the world. Fifty-seven million people around the world on a weekly basis find time to spend an hour or more with the members of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, an impressive record indeed.



Studio: Paramount

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 480P/MPEG-2

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DD

Subtitles: English SDH, Portuguese

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 17 Hr. 10 Min.

Package Includes: DVD

three slimline cases in a slipcase

Disc Type: DVD-9 (dual layer)

Region: 1

Release Date: 08/18/2015

MSRP: $55.98




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

With Emily Wickersham firmly installed as new team probie Ellie Bishop, this season marked the least amount of turnover for the squad in quite some time. Certainly there were some internal deaths during the season (two recurring characters met their maker in surprising and unexpected ways), and instead of waiting a few episodes to establish this season’s major villain, he was established in the season premiere “Twenty Klicks”: international mercenary Sergei Mishnev (Alex Veadov). As is usually the case with an NCIS bad guy, he pops in and out sporadically until he makes his final move, in this case fifteen episodes into the season, but there are plenty of other bad guys for our heroes to chase besides this evil perpetrator with a personal vendetta against team leader Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), and the closing third of the season finds the squad on the prowl for a terrorist group labeled “The Calling” who recruit lonely, alienated kids to carry out their nefarious schemes. This group will undoubtedly play a large role in season thirteen since the season cliffhanger directly involves a member of the team coming into potentially fatal proximity to one of the terrorists’ most innocent-looking fiends.

 

If the season had an overall theme, it might be described as inward intensity. This season, several of the core characters had emotional specialty episodes, and those (except Gibbs) without significant others were finally fixed up with what seem to be mates who aren’t going to fade away after an episode or two. Dr. “Ducky” Mallard (David McCallum) is reunited with a lost love in his specialty episode “So It Goes.” Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) is reunited with an old partner from his Philly police days Zoe Keates (Marisol Nichols) who’s now an ATF special agent and who makes several appearances throughout the season. Forensics expert Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) meets U.S. Park Police Sergeant Burt Moore (Johann Urb) in the second episode “Kill the Messenger,” and their on-going romance becomes gossip for the bull pen during infrequent down time. Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) continues his long distance relationship with Delilah Fielding (Margo Harshman) though she does make one appearance later in the season while M.E. Assistant Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) and his wife finally have their dearly wanted child. We also finally meet Ellie’s much-mentioned husband Jake (Jamie Bamber) who figures in three episodes during the season but most memorably in his introductory one, “Grounded” which sets a nifty mystery inside Dulles International Airport.

 

But the season is driven by an unusually large number of very moving and highly emotional cases: a story that started back during the Vietnam War is brought to a tear-inducing end in “The Searchers,” a Navy corpsman saves the lives of two people in an accident but finds herself under arrest for helping them in “Semper Fortis,” the murder of an openly-gay potential Medal of Honor nominee reveals some leftover homophobia in the post “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era, a murder brings Tony back to his old prep school for a bittersweet reunion with some former teachers and students, in "House Rules," McGee writes a letter to his father detailing Gibbs’ numerous rules which are often referenced on the show, and, of course, the shocking murders of two recurring characters who had become audience favorites over the years lead to emotional upheavals for many members of the team. Through all of these, the cast performs their roles with the surety and expertise of the veterans they are, never making a wrong move and fleshing out their characters with additional nuance that endears them even more to the show’s large fan base. And, for the show's fans, there are return visits from recurring characters like Diane Neal’s CGIS Special Agent Abigail Borin, Robert Wagner’s Anthony DiNozzo, Sr., Matt Jones as NCIS techie Ned Dornegat, Leslie Hope's Secretary of the Navy, and Joe Spano as FBI Senior Field Agent Tobias Fornell.

 

The following are the twenty-four episodes contained on six discs in this season twelve set. The names in parentheses refer to the participants in the audio commentary available for that episode:

 

1 – Twenty Klicks
2 – Kill the Messenger
3 – So It Goes
4 – Choke Hold
5 – The San Dominick
6 – Parental Guidance Suggested
7 – The Searchers
8 – Semper Fortis
9 – Grounded
10 – House Rules (actor Sean Murray, director Terrence O’Hara, writer Christopher Waild)
11 – Check
12 – The Enemy Within
13 – We Build, We Fight (actor-director Rocky Carroll, writer Jennifer Corbett, producer Mark Horowitz)
14 – Cadence
15 – Cabin Fever (actors Mark Harmon, Joe Spano, director Bethany Rooney)
16 – Blast from the Past
17 – The Artful Dodger
18 – Status Update
19 – Patience
20 – No Good Deed
21 – Lost in Translation
22 – Troll
23 – The Lost Boys
24 – Neverland



Video Rating: 3.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The program is presented at 1080i on the network broadcasts, and these downconverted 1.78:1 transfers are anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. The show switched to digital production a few seasons ago, but the image has maintained its slightly soft-focused (in some episodes, VERY soft focused), slightly diffused color, and slightly milky contrast look even when going from film to digital. The picture quality is perfectly pleasing and similar to the network broadcasts, but it’s never going to have the crystal clarity or eye-popping color values of other primetime series. Flesh tones are natural, and black levels are all decently rendered. Each episode has been divided into 7 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track (there is also a Dolby 2.0 stereo surround track available for each episode) does not always take full advantage of the available channels for this action-oriented series. Music by Bruce Kirk in each episode seems to be the most frequent occupant of the rear channels as the score is generously spread through the soundstage, but ambient sound effects don’t often get the full surround treatment though when explosions hit (and there are several during this season), they hit with real impact. Dialogue, an important aspect of this crime procedural, is always well recorded and has been placed firmly in the center channel.



Special Features Rating: 4/5

Audio Commentaries: three are available this season (see above list). The best is the first with Sean Murray, Terrence O’Hara, and Christopher Waild providing lively interaction as they watch the episode. The worst is the next one with Rocky Carroll, Jennifer Corbett, and Mark Horowitz talking only sporadically and dully about their work on the episode. The last one begins slowly but picks up steam and gets rolling by the end.

 

Deleted/Extended Scenes: five scenes from the season are attached to the episodes from which they sprang.

 

Pre-Flight Jitters: Shooting on Location (9:54): producer Gary Glasberg, writer Scott Williams, director Bethany Rooney, and other members of the crew along with actors Emily Wickersham and Jamie Bamber discuss the making of “Grounded” which introduced Ellie’s husband to television audiences.

 

Bad to the Bone (11:18): producer Gary Glasberg introduces us to the season’s heavy Sergei Mishnev played by actor Alex Veadov who comments on his character. Also weighing in are writer Scott Williams, producers Chas. Floyd Johnson and Mark Horowitz, and actors Mark Harmon, Melinda McGraw (who plays Gibbs’ ex-wife Diane Sterling), Joe Spano, and Pauley Perrette.

 

Rocky Carroll: Director (6:45): the actor talks about his first experience directing for television, supported by lots of praise from producers Gary Glasberg, Chas. Floyd Johnson, and actors Mark Harmon, Pauley Perrette, Brian Dietzen, and Emily Wickersham.

 

Inside Season 12 (24:53): an excellent overview of the season with producers Gary Glasberg, Scott Williams, Chas. Floyd Johnson and Mark Horowitz and members of the cast mentioning their highlights and favorite moments.

 

Table for Ten (30:19): a roundtable discussion over a lavish dinner as the series regulars and producer Gary Glasberg discuss the season, the work on the series over the years, and answer questions posed by fans from social media sites.

 

#1 Drama in the World (7:10): a behind-the-scenes look at the celebration held on the set when it was revealed the series ranked again as the most popular dramatic series internationally.



Overall Rating: 4/5

Still going strong after twelve seasons and with no end in sight, NCIS had one of its best-ever seasons this past year with strong stories and outstanding character development over the course of the year. Best Buy has been granted an exclusive for a month of selling season twelve of NCIS on Blu-ray. All other outlets will get the Blu-ray on September 15th. This review of the DVD set makes one very curious about the video and audio quality of the high definition release. In any event, recommended!


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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McCrutchy

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FYI--This season will be the first season released on Blu-ray Disc. The wide release is September 15th, but Best Buy will have it as an exclusive (with a bonus DVD disc) starting on this Tuesday, August 18th, as a very reasonable $34.99, just $5 more than the DVD edition.


I'm looking forward to getting it, I never watched the show, but now that it's on BD, it will be in my collection.
 

Matt Hough

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McCrutchy said:
FYI--This season will be the first season released on Blu-ray Disc. The wide release is September 15th, but Best Buy will have it as an exclusive (with a bonus DVD disc) starting on this Tuesday, August 18th, as a very reasonable $34.99, just $5 more than the DVD edition.


I'm looking forward to getting it, I never watched the show, but now that it's on BD, it will be in my collection.
Um, I mentioned the Best Buy exclusive/wide release schedule in the final paragraph of the review. But you're quite right that this is the first season it has ever been released on Blu-ray. Judging by the way the show looks on broadcast HD, I'm not sure this is the series I would have picked for a Blu-ray exclusive (though, of course, its massive popularity must have been the determining factor), but I hope CBS sees fit to send a Blu-ray copy for review so I can do some A/B comparisons. I did request one.
 

McCrutchy

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Matt Hough said:
Um, I mentioned the Best Buy exclusive/wide release schedule in the final paragraph of the review. But you're quite right that this is the first season it has ever been released on Blu-ray. Judging by the way the show looks on broadcast HD, I'm not sure this is the series I would have picked for a Blu-ray exclusive (though, of course, its massive popularity must have been the determining factor), but I hope CBS sees fit to send a Blu-ray copy for review so I can do some A/B comparisons. I did request one.

Sorry about that, Matt. I did read the review (though I skipped the extras, as I haven't seen the series), but I must have missed that mention of the Blu-ray at the end. :blink:


I do note that you're not the first to question why this series is coming to BD, given its apparently "soft" look, but I'll be interested to see the episodes for myself shortly.
 

jcroy

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If I had to guess, it sounds like this softness "mutilation" was possibly done in post-production.


According to imdb, the cameras + equipment used for filming the show appears to be modern current HD equipment.


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0364845/technical?ref_=tt_dt_spec



At this point, the only possible reason I would pick up the bluray version, is if I found it for less than the price of the dvd version in the local bargain dump bins. Same reason why I picked up some discontinued bluray shows like: House MD, Grey's Anatomy, Nip Tuck, the revived Hawaii Five-0, CSI, etc ... instead of the dvd versions. (ie. They were showing up for $15 a pop or less).
 

Matt Hough

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Oh, I'm sure the look is deliberate. NCIS has never looked like any other show either when it was film-based or now digitally based. After watching 24 straight episodes, my eyes were craving something sharp and tactile. Fortunately, its offshoot NCIS: New Orleans doesn't mimic the look of the mothership, and those 23 subsequent episodes were much more HD-friendly (even though the DVDs are, of course, SD). But upconverted, they look just fine.
 

jcroy

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Matt Hough said:
Oh, I'm sure the look is deliberate. NCIS has never looked like any other show either when it was film-based or now digitally based. After watching 24 straight episodes, my eyes were craving something sharp and tactile. Fortunately, its offshoot NCIS: New Orleans doesn't mimic the look of the mothership, and those 23 subsequent episodes were much more HD-friendly (even though the DVDs are, of course, SD). But upconverted, they look just fine.

Same with NCIS: LA. (At least the off-network reruns on hd cable channels).
 

jcroy

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Matt Hough said:
After watching 24 straight episodes, my eyes were craving something sharp and tactile

(Going offtopic).


On the other side of the coin, I've been finding that watching something too sharp and/or too "tactile" (if your definition is what I think it is), starts to strain my eyes over a period of time.


For example on many Michael Bay movies (along with many other action movies), I turn off any and all color + sharpness enchancements on my tv screen and/or bluray players. I'm at the point where I don't even bother turning them back on for non-action movies/shows.


More generally, I just keep my tv and bluray/dvd player settings without ANY enhancements turned on. My eyes don't strain as much.
 

Matt Hough

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I have no enhancements turned on either. Wouldn't make me much of a reviewer if I couldn't report on what's actually on the disc rather than what's been artificially added by my equipment.
 

McCrutchy

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Hey guys,


I got my Best Buy Exclusive edition of this set today, with the bonus DVD disc. I haven't had time to delve into the episodes just yet, but here are a few bits of info.


First of all, the six BD-50 Blu-ray Discs in this set are region-free. :)


However, only English audio and subtitle options are offered (so the Portuguese subtitles that Matt listed for the DVD set are absent). These are likely the exact discs that are coming in the Australian BD release, which is set for August 28th, and given the language options, I would not expect this set to come out on Blu-ray elsewhere, except possibly in the UK. The episodes contain both 24-bit DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, and a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track at 192 kbps. Optional English SDH subtitles are offered for the episodes and video extras (all of which are 1080p), but not for the audio commentaries.


The Best Buy Exclusive bonus DVD disc is a DVD-5, and is region-locked to DVD regions 1 and 4 (according to AnyDVD). It contains 40 minutes of featurettes, with optional English SDH subtitles.


All subtitling is in white font.
 

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