“NCIS: Los Angeles” is what I would call diversionary programming. It’s not terribly creative, outside of an episode or two, but the cast holds it together with wonderful chemistry. The DVD release from Paramount has a decent amount of features and although the video is good, the audio is merely adequate. If you’re a fan, this fourth season set might be worth the price.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Drama
Paramount | NR – 1032 min. – $64.99 | August 20, 2013
Directed by: Various
Writer(s): Shane Brennon (created by)
Cast: Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J, Daniela Rush, Eric Christian Olsen, Renee Felice Smith, Barrett Foa, Linda Hunt
Features: Featurettes, Episode Commentaries
Number of Discs: 6
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
The third season of “NCIS: Los Angeles” ended with G. Callen (CHRIS O’DONNELL) shooting nemesis and serial killer Marcel Janvier (CHRISTOPHER LAMBERT) in revenge for murdering fellow NCIS agent Lauren Hunter with a car bomb. It was a pretty shocking finale and I wondered how show creator/writer Shane Brennon gets out of this one because we know O’Donnell would be returning to the series. Well, it’s the old not all is what it appears cop out B.S. especially considering Callen shot an unarmed man caught on multiple TV cameras. The only worse way to open the season would be if Callen wakes up and it was all a nightmare/fantasy.
Moving past the season premiere fairly quickly, season four gets back into gear with a few case-of-the-week episodes: finding the murderer of a Marine found in the remains of a drone strike on a terrorist headquarters, finding $70 million in gold stolen during a daylight robbery from the Federal Reserve and infiltrating an elite training squadron suspected of sabotaging a Special Forces unit and others. The team – including Callen, Sam Hanna (LL COOL J), Kensi Blye (DANIELA RUAH) and LAPD liaison Marty Deeks (ERIC CHRISTIAN OLSEN).
However, there are some storylines with tentacles from previous seasons and to do with our main characters. The main focus this year is with Sam Hanna and his unusual marriage which comes into play in the episode ‘Rude Awakenings” when the team needs to get in bed with a Russian arms dealer trying to get his hands on nuclear weapons. It’s an interesting story and kind of hard to follow especially if you miss more than a few episodes from the second season. Still, ‘Rude Awakenings’, ‘Wanted’ and ‘Raven and the Swans’ further reveals the connection between Hetty and Callen are all fine episodes for season three.
Also, the further inclusion of Miguel Ferrer, who made his debut halfway through season three, as Assistant Director Owen Granger is a great contrast often throwing the team off their game. And the relationship between techies Eric (BARRETT FOA) and Nell (RENEE FELICE SMITH) provides for some fun comedy relief.
Oh, and I would be remiss in forgetting that the season includes a two-part episode (‘Red’/Red-2’) that was supposed to be a backdoor pilot for yet another spinoff which has NCIS agents roving the country solving cases living and eating together on custom-made trailers. It was an interesting concept for a mini-series but not an entire season so thankfully CBS passed on it.
“NCIS: Los Angeles” might not hold much of a candle on its parent show, or is it grandparent given “NCIS” itself is a spin-off from “JAG”, but the cast shares great chemistry and the bulk of the stories at least holds some entertainment value.
3. The Fifth Man
4. Dead Body Politic
5. Out of the Past
6. Rude Awakenings
7. Skin Deep
9. The Gold Standard
10. Free Ride
12. Paper Soldiers
13. The Chosen One
14. Kill House
22. Raven & the Swans
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.75/5
Like other recent CBS DVD releases, this 6-disc set comes housed in a standard keep case with a side-sliding matted slip cover. There are no inserts but inside the case on the front and back are the episode listings, which is fine but you have to remove the discs in front to read it…
Episode Commentaries – ‘Recruit’ with Barrett Foa and Renee Felice Smith and ‘Wanted’ with Daniela Rush and Eric Christian Olsen. Given both are cast commentaries, they’re generally light-hearted and laidback.
Sound Off (10:40) looks at the sound department on the show from with interviews from the cast and crew talking about what goes into the audio while filming.
Chris at the Helm (13:39) finds the star making his directorial debut and we get thoughts from his fellow cast-mates.
Some Assembly Required (9:44) is about the setup for NCIS: Red’s headquarters.
Unforgettable Season Four of “NCIS: Los Angeles” (30:03) is a look back of the fourth season as we get the thoughts from the members of the cast and crew about major plot threads. Like the others, it’s nothing amazing, but it’s not horrible either and is a bit more expansive.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Paramount distributes “NCIS: LA”: The Fourth Season arrives on DVD presented with a 1.78 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The season looks fairly close to what aired on television with some bright colors and some darker elements. The only difference is, this release does have a finite amount of artifacting but it’s minimal and doesn’t distract from the series.
AUDIO – 3.25/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track offered isn’t anything extraordinary, in fact it’s a bit lacking when it comes to the opening theme and some of the more action sequences, but dialogue does sound clear enough making for a decent audio mix, just nothing noteworthy and certainly a step down when the first season was released on Blu-ray with a lossless track…
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, “NCIS: Los Angeles” is what I would call diversionary programming. It’s not terribly creative, outside of an episode or two, but the cast holds it together with wonderful chemistry. The DVD release from Paramount has a decent amount of features and although the video is good, the audio is merely adequate. If you’re a fan, this fourth season set might be worth the price.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman