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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » NCIS Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The Fourth Season
NCIS Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The Fourth Season
Paramount // Unrated // October 23, 2007
List Price: $64.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted October 20, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Fourth Season

NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service is a television series based upon the government agency of the same name. NCIS is a federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction of crimes involving persons and property associated with the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps. NCIS was a spin-off series of the popular show JAG. Something about this series you won't necessarily find with other crime dramas is the venue for crimes. Due to the investigative nature of NCIS, they are not restricted to city or a local region when it comes to jurisdiction of a crime. Instead they have jurisdiction that can take them all over globe (or at least where there is Naval and Marine presence). For more details about this series, please refer to DVD Talk's review of season one, season two, and season three.

The fourth season has several changes on the horizon, including three reoccurring characters. First, Mike Franks (Muse Watson), who was introduced in the season three finale, appears throughout the season. He is Gibbs' former partner and mentor. He plays an important role in Gibbs' development, as well as having close ties to a couple cases. Second, there is Lt. Colonel Hollis Mann (Susanna Thompson) from the Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID). NCIS and Army CID cross paths on a case and they are forced to work in tandem. A romantic chemistry develops between the two team leaders. Third, Michelle Lee (Liza Lapira) joins the NCIS team as the rookie agent. She is a Harvard Law graduate who likes to do things by the book. She is eventually transferred to the legal department and processes warrants for the team, something more fitting to her background. She has a romantic relationship with Jimmy Palmer.

In addition to the new characters, season four has other changes with lots of character development. Tony engages in his first serious relationship with Dr. Jeanne Benoit (Scottie Thompson). Tim writes a fictional novel (based on NCIS cases and personnel) and becomes independently wealthy. Ziva has a few more details revealed about her life, as well as she develops a romantic interest in a Navy Lieutenant. Gibbs has details about his past revealed, which tie into Franks. Ducky gets another degree in forensics psychology so he can not only understand the how, but the why. Shepard and Tony have a special work relationship that puts him on classified need-to-know missions. Shepard also gets closer to catching French arms dealer La Grenouille (Armand Assante), who she has a personal vendetta against. For the most part, these developments make these characters stronger and tie into the general premise well.

"Shalom" starts the season with a bang. The events take place several months after the season three finale (Gibbs resigned from NCIS after the brass failed to heed his warning about a pending attack -- he fell into a coma, awoke with minor amnesia, and moved to Mexico with Franks). While Ziva was on her way to work, she witnessed a Mossad agent assassinate someone. Following the attack, Ziva flees the crime scene to catch the killer. She is mistaken as the killer by the authorities and becomes wanted by the FBI. Tony is put in a predicate on how to handle the situation, as he is supposed to help bring Ziva into custody. Meanwhile, Ziva instigates Gibbs' assistance to clear her name.

In the next episode "Escaped", Gibbs is reunited with the NCIS team when Fornell requests his help. A petty officer convicted of bank robbery escapes from prison and makes a compelling case to Fornell to have another look at the evidence. Gibbs was the man who caught him many years ago and Fornell enlists his help to catch him. As the NCIS team works with Gibbs, Fornell, and the FBI, they uncover that Gibbs and Fornell may implicated the wrong man. At the end of the case, Gibbs realizes the importance of his job and rejoins NCIS.

As the season continues there are numerous strong episodes with enticing storylines and crimes. Some of these episodes include "Sandblast", a Marine is killed on an Army-Navy golf course and NCIS works with Army CID to catch the killer, "Twisted Sister", a sailor is found dead and McGee's younger sister arrives at his door step covered in blood, "Sharif Returns", a terrorist from the NCIS/Army CID case returns and Gibbs and Mann are hot on the trial, "Grace Period", NCIS responds to a bad tip that results in the death of two agents, "Trojan Horse", Shepard goes overseas and leaves Gibbs in charge, who focuses on the casework instead of the paperwork, and "Angel Of Death", Tony and Jeanne are taken hostage while unbeknownst to the rest of the team.

What is great about the season four episodes comes in several flavors, but is primarily the acting and the writing. The acting performances continue to be solid. From leading to supporting, the cast works well together and have great chemistry. There are constant fun quirky moments that give the show a slight humorous edge. This helps make the characters likeable and easy to care about. The writing continues offers some topnotch stories. While there are a few rehashed concepts found in other crime dramas, the fun mix of forensics disciplines (tangible evidence, technology, pathology) give the show an edge.

In the end, NCIS's fourth season is another winner. The season has twenty-four exciting episodes and tie in several strong story arcs with substantial character development. Fans of the series should check this season out, as well as newcomers to the show.

Episode Guide

1. Shalom: Gibbs is retried in Mexico and the NCIS team must somehow learn to live without him when Ziva becomes the FBI's prime suspect in an assassination attempt. Now she turns to the one person she can trust.
2. Escaped: After a friend's life is threatened by an escaped convict, Gibbs comes out of retirement and re-opens the convict's armed robbery case.
3. Singled Out: A Navy lieutenant's bloody, abandoned car brings the NCIS team in to investigate a singles' seminar with the hope that one of the male attendees will lead them to the missing lieutenant.
4. Faking It: A Petty Officer who was working under as part of an arms operation is found murdered.
5. Dead And Unburied: A missing Marine's body is found in a vacant home after he was deployed to Iraq but never showed up for duty.
6. Witch Hunt: On Halloween night a Marine is attacked in his home and his daughter is kidnapped. Meanwhile, McGee and Tony are rendered speechless by Abby's Halloween costume.
7. Sandblast: An explosion on a military golf course kills a Marine colonel and the NCIS team must work with the Army Criminal Investigative Unit to find the killer. Romance is in the air for both Gibbs and Tony.
8. Once A Hero: A former decorated Marine falls to his death at a hotel in Washington, D.C. The NCIS team works to clear the veteran's name after they discover suspicious activity surrounding his death.
9. Twisted Sister: McGee takes matters into his own hands after his teenage sister appears at his door bloodied and confused.
10. Smoked: Working in tandem with the FBI, the NCIS team makes a shocking discovery when they identify the remains of a serial killer.
11. Driven: A highly classified robotic device is sabotaged and kills Navy lieutenant who was working on an important project for the Department of Defense.
12. Suspicion: A high-level Marine intelligence officer is murdered in a small-town motel room. The NCIS team rushes to the scene of the crime only to discover the local authorities have disrupted the crime scene and performed an autopsy days earlier.
13. Sharif Returns: Gibbs and the NCIS team scramble to locate 10 kilograms of highly toxic chemical weapons only to discover that they're in the possession of wanted terrorist Mamoun Sharif.
14. Blowback: Ducky goes undercover as a buyer of illegal weapons. Jenny appears to have a personnel vendetta against the arms dealer known as "La Grenouille."
15. Friends & Lovers: The NCIS team believes that a sailor found in an abandoned building was the victim of a drug overdose until they discover an ominous message written in blood.
16. Dead Man Walking: A Navy lieutenant, the victim of radiation poisoning, wants the NCIS team to solve a murder--his own.
17. Skeletons: An explosion at a military cemetery mausoleum reveals several dismembered human remains. The team looks for potential serial killers, but Gibbs is surprised with the final outcome.
18. Iceman: A man supposedly frozen to death is about to be autopsied by Ducky, when he suddenly sits up - alive! As the NCIS team tries to figure out who left the man for dead, they discover there's a link to Gibbs' past.
19. Grace Period: An anonymous call to the NCIS tip line about possible terrorist activity sends two agents into a trap and certain death.
20. Cover Story: With little information to go on, McGee is under serious pressure during the murder investigation of a Petty Officer.
21. Brothers In Arms: Director Shepard finds that meeting an informant alone can be murder. The NCIS team must gather all leads to hunt down the killer.
22. In The Dark: The NCIS team taps into a blind photographer's special insight to investigate a crime.
23. Trojan Horse: While Shepard is abroad, Gibbs is acting director, but he ignores his duties when a murdered man is found in a cab headed to the NCIS headquarters.
24. Angel Of Death: The deepest, darkest secrets of each NCIS team member are about to be revealed after they learn they have a to take a Homeland Security polygraph test. Meanwhile, a ruthless drug dealer holds Tony and his girlfriend, Jeanne, hostage.

The DVD

Video:
The video in this release is given in an enhanced anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color format. The picture quality is quite good. It suffers from a slight grain, but detail remains to be sharp and clear. However, there are some occasional moments when the picture suffers compression artifacts. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen.

Audio:
The audio in this release is given in English 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound. There are also additional tracks in English and dubbed Spanish 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. Overall, the sound quality is very good, providing an audible and clean audio track. The 5.1 track sounds great, with the majority of activity in the forward channels. Music and sound effects sound very rich and vibrant.

Extras:
NCIS's third season DVD boxset comes packed with featurettes and audio commentaries. There is a lot of material for fans to check out after watching the season episodes. Here is the breakdown:

  • Audio Commentaries: for episodes "Twisted Sister" with Sean Murray and Terrence O'Hara, "Dead Man Walking" with Sean Murray and Cote de Pablo, "Skeletons" with Brian Dietzen and David McCallum, "Grace Period" with Michael Weatherly, "Cover Story" with Michael Weatherly and Pauley Perrette, and "Angel Of Death" with Donald P. Bellisario.
  • Cast Roundtable (Part 1) (18:04): is an interview session with the cast. They sit around a table, drink, eat, and answer questions from note cards (sent in by fans). It begins the cast talking about their first acting job. The discussion is pretty dry, but gets a little comical when Michael Weatherly opens his mouth.
  • Cast Roundtable (Part 2) (17:44): is the continuation of the question & answer session with the cast.
  • Ducky's World (5:35): is a tour of the NCIS autopsy room with David McCallum. He provides a detailed tour of the set, pointing out the intricacies between the real world and television, and explains some of the autopsy procedure.
  • Behind The Set: The Production Design of NCIS (9:49): is a featurette about the production of NCIS in regards to sets, props, and everything else that related to making the show look real. It stars Robert L. Bacon, Linda King, Lynn Wolverton-Parker, George Tuers, Donald P. Bellisario, Avery Drewe, and Mark Horowitz.
  • Dressed to Kill: Dressing the Sets of NCIS (6:05): is a behind the scenes featurette with set designer Lynn Wolverton-Parker. She walks through the process of building sets for the show. It includes a detailed look at aspects of set design you might not care much about, e.g., she shows off the warehouse and all of the different furniture/appliances and props related to sets.
  • Prop Master (7:14): is a featurette with properties master George Teurs. He talks about the different items he prepares, provides a tour of the props storage, and different props (weapons, accessories, umbrellas, crime scene tools, etc.)
  • Picture Perfect: The Look of NCIS (9:51): is a behind the scenes interview featurette led by directory of photography William Web. It also stars Michael Riba, Mark Horowitz, and Donald P. Bellisario. The discussion deals with the camera work, photography, lighting, action sequences, filming on location, and so on to make the show look the way it looks. He talks about the effort necessary from both the cast and the crew to make it happen.
  • Season of Secrets (2:47): is a short interview featurette with Donald P. Bellisario. He talks about the "secrets", i.e. developments, that occurred this season.

Final Thoughts:
NCIS's fourth season is another exciting collection of episodes. In particular, there are several key developments for the cast, such as several romantic interludes, Gibbs leaving and returning, joint investigations with FBI and Army CID, and more. This season is action/drama packed and nothing something fans of the series will want to miss out on. It comes highly recommended.

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