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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » NCIS: The Complete Ninth Season
NCIS: The Complete Ninth Season
Paramount // Unrated // August 21, 2012
List Price: $64.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted September 7, 2012 | E-mail the Author
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NCIS Season 9 Review


The Show:

NCIS (short for Naval Criminal Investigative Service) is one of the most successful television series ever made with a wide audience spanning different backgrounds and countries. It is no surprise the show is as popular as it is. The series features continuing story-arcs from time to time but the bulk of the series is episodic and the characters are some of the best written and acted on any network show. The plot follows a core cast of characters working to stop many horrible situations from happening and so forth. These characters care about the community, world, and those who inhabit it.

The number one reason to watch NCIS is the characters and the performances the actors bring to their characters. Each actor has one of the best roles on television and it is rare to find so much talent (both on screen and in scriptwriting) on one show.

The writing and directing on NCIS is strong and plays a huge role in why the show continues to be so excellent. James Whitmore Jr. does a particularly great job in the director's chair and has crafted some of the most excellent episodes.

One of the greatest strengths of NCIS is that it remains creative in how it tells its stories despite being a procedural series. The behind-the-scenes creative team is so good at what they do that even with nine seasons the show feels full of great ideas and genuine energy. This season isn't even a bad place for newcomers to start. While it would make a lot more sense to begin at the beginning of the show there is little doubt that NCIS can continue to gain new fans through re-runs and new episodes.

It doesn't take long to realize the greatness of NCIS is not in the plots (although there are some great ones) but in the characters, the dynamics, and the unique writing and direction that keeps each episode in a special league known as the highest class in television entertainment. To put it simply: If you haven't already started watching NCIS you're missing out on one of the best shows out there.

The Characters:

Mark Harmon is Special Agent Jethro Gibbs. Gibbs is the leader of the entire group on the series and the character is one that brings in charisma, intelligence, and strength to the show (especially through guidance to the other characters). Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) probably looks up to Gibbs the most and he brings the comedic factor on the show up by several notches, and still manages to be a dramatic backbone to the entire show too. As per usual, he's a character known for his many and varied film references. Film buffs can and will enjoy.

Pauley Perrette excels as the lovable and high-energy Abby Sciuto; an interesting character that melds the world of gothic-style clothing design with the kind heartedness found in a genuinely loyal and intelligent woman. Abby is one of the smartest and kindest characters on the series. The eccentricities of the character would seem bizarre in one sense of understanding but make perfect sense when considering who the character is that viewers get to know and love over the course of the show. It's actually difficult to not smile when Abby is on screen.

Sean Murray plays the nerdy but somewhat reserved and solemn Special Agent Timothy McGee. This character is a bit of an underdog in the show (McGee started out in a fairly normal office position) yet there are many moments where the strength and dedication of this spirited man shine through and that is wonderful to witness.

Cote de Pablo surprises as Ziva David. She is the toughest of the entire group (she always seems ready to kick some butt) and her storyline often brings some real sadness into the stories but she demonstrates great strength throughout and that makes her character one of the most important links to holding the group together.  Ziva also has some great chemistry with Anthony: if only the pair would admit to each other that they have feelings for the other... and have a beautiful relationship together.

Of course, there's also tough glue to the NCIS department: Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll), who is the one character that manages to keep things running as smooth as possible. Lastly, the show just wouldn't be the same without the eccentric Ducky (David McCallum) and his equally bizarre yet sweet apprentice Jimmy (Brian Dietzen) working on all of the medical examinations.

The Season:

NCIS: Season 9 immediately started off with a stellar episode, Nature of the Beast, and it was an intense continuation and conclusion to the cliffhanger from season eight's conclusion. Things on NCIS begin to seem bleak and dark in the opening episode of the season, and the tone is set to be one of shifting character development and more serious storylines. This feeling doesn't last long, however.  The apparent game-changing mode of NCIS seemed gone by the second episode aired last season. By that point, things were already beginning to feel comparatively normal within the NCIS world.  NCIS still continued to truck along with another excellent season though.

Compared to the previous season, NCIS just doesn't seem to have as enormous a storyline or arc of equal status in the ninth season outing. This doesn't stop the show from being a well-made and engaging series, of course. Yet it is disappointing that some of the intensity of the writing was watered down to some minor degree.

There are plenty of standout episodes though. The Penelope Papers is an excellent episode that brings us some more background on McGee as we meet his grandmother (performed with the excellence of Lily Tomlin). Engaged (Parts 1 and 2) are some of the most intense moments in Season 9 and will have viewers glued to their seats. Life Before His Eyes is the season's best episode and stands on its own as a fine example of television's opportunity to expand upon storytelling potential. Everyone involved likely felt it had to be a particularly special show, because it was the 200th episode. The way the plot was orchestrated it could have just been unspectacular flashbacks but instead it was an episode that delved deeper into Gibb's own history and character in a way that was fascinating and extremely moving.

One of the aspects of this season that I was looking forward to in the beginning was the arrival of Jamie Lee Curtis to the show. If anyone had asked me before watching the episodes, I'd imagine my response to her being on the show would be hugely enthusiastic. She is a wonderful actress. However, I felt the writers did a disservice to her by providing a role that was established quite as well as I had hoped for. The character feels forced at times, and not so much because of the performance. I simply felt that the writing did little to introduce the audience to the character. Instead, I felt as though the writer's simply hoped that everyone would recognize her as the enjoyable and talented Jamie Lee Curtis. This made the entire role underwhelming to me. I sincerely wish more time had been spent developing the character, especially given that the character seems to be established as someone who will become even more prominent along whatever road NCIS is taking for its future episodes. It made the entire character arc far less enjoyable.

The season was hugely entertaining and a welcome return but the lack of development in the storylines surprised me and was actually somewhat disappointing this season. I was expecting the writers to find more character moments to create and to be in line with the development of the overarching plot of NCIS.  I was anticipating that even though the show is largely episodic.

Even so, NCIS remains one of the best shows currently airing on TV, and with one of the largest and most satisfying ensemble casts ever assembled. It is worth seeking out and fans of the show will keep tuning in to see their favorite characters and the exciting chemistry that has continued to exist vibrantly between the amazing cast members. I thought Season 8 was a tad better in terms of plot-development, but that's the main difference. As I said about last season: the main reason I watch the show is the characters. Besides the underdeveloped arc for Jamie Lee Curtis's character, this is something that doesn't disappoint at all. Fans will ultimately be delighted when they see NCIS season nine.

The DVD:


Video:

NCIS: The Ninth Season arrives on DVD with each episode presented with the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen and with anamorphic enhancement provided for 16:9 television displays. The show has a modern-day look that makes it feel above-average as a production, but series colors remain muted throughout and are never quite as memorable as other high-budget television series. Despite some image imperfections due to cinematography the image quality remains impressive with good contrast and depth that manages to help the show remain both stylized and naturalistic at the same time. The PQ is pleasant and will satisfy fans of NCIS.

Each disc contains three to five of the twenty-four season nine episodes.

Audio:

The NCIS sound design contains a 5.1 surround sound option and a standard 2.0 Dolby Digital option. Either way should work fine for this type of series, but the surround sound mix offers listeners a more dynamic mix with some sound effects, and music that is more enveloping. Standard 2.0 and 5.1 mixes both contain easy to understand dialogue.

Subtitles options are: English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing), Spanish, and Portuguese.


Extras:

Audio Commentaries are included on the following episodes: Housekeeping (Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo), Life Before His Eyes (Mark Harmon, Gary Glasberg, and Tony Wharmby), Rekindled (Michael Weatherly and Mark Horowitz), Up in Smoke (Brian Dietzen, Matt Jones, and Steven D. Binder) .

Nine is Fine (22:53) is a behind the scenes look at the making of Season 9. It features interviews and footage from during the show's production period. This supplement is essentially one where everyone who worked on the show celebrates their success in making it to nine seasons while its a show that is still going strong.

The Finish Line (7:35) focuses on the post-production aspect of the series (which literally begins while the show is still filming due to the turnaround times). It features footage demonstrating the way this process works and features interviews with those who make these complex production elements actually happen.

Casting Off (10:53) is about the casting on the show. This piece features interviews with NCIS casting directors and other NCIS alum as they discuss the essential nature of the casting process and how supporting guest roles have been essential to the show maintaining its massive success.

Episode Two Hundred (12:08) is a celebratory behind-the-scenes piece about the show hitting its 200th episode. This is a neat extra and the cast/writers/crew share moments reflecting on how the series has made such a huge impact all the way to its 200th episode. This is an accomplishment in need of the attention it is given with this supplement -- quite the magnificent milestone for NCIS.

NCIS Season 9 Cast Roundtable (41:20) was a blast to watch. Any fan of NCIS should check out the cast roundtable for this season. First of all, these actors are as charming as they are for a good reason: they seem to be likeable people all around. You will enjoy watching the cast as they goof off, banter, and discuss the show and characters. One thing that is neat about this supplement was how the cast answered several different questions received from fans of the show. Though there was quite the uneven divide: Michael Weatherly seemed to receive the most questions and this did not go unnoticed by the rest of the cast. Regardless, dedicated fans will want to consider it necessary to watch this fascinating roundtable discussion.

Psyched Up: Jamie Lee Curtis On Set (7:07) is entirely about the season 9 collaboration with Jamie Lee Curtis. It features more clips from the episodes than most of the featurettes do yet things are still engaging overall, especially when fellow cast members and Jamie Lee Curtis herself discuss how the collaboration began and grew over the course of the season.

Deleted Scene (1:26) is the lone deleted scene included from the season. It is from the season finale. Though it doesn't expand upon anything related to the questionable conclusion of the season cliffhanger it is a nice scene that I found myself surprised to realize was deleted from broadcast.

Final Thoughts:

There's a pretty easy answer as to why NCIS is such a massively popular television series. In this case, it's the right answer too: the cast is wonderful. People love these characters because they are charming, believable, and engaging. As far as television ensembles go, NCIS is one of the best examples out there. While the plot-lines and directions the stories take can sometimes be underwhelming, I continue to watch because I care about the people of NCIS. The characters make the show, and NCIS remains a favorite because of it. If you aren't already on board the series train to entertainment bliss now is as good a time as any to check out the show. There might be a good chance that you'll love the show.

Highly Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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