The sophomore season for most television dramas is usually the most difficult. One has to build on the success of the first season, identify and create the themes and story arcs for upcoming seasons, and retain the unique qualities that made the show successful in the first place. Led by executive producer Donald Bellisario, NCIS crafted a much stronger second season full of tension, drama, great mysteries, and a shocking conclusion. This is good television. And you dont let good television sit on the shelf too long, so hot on the heels of the release of the First Season on DVD is the November 14 release of the complete Season Two of NCIS.
NCIS is the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, responsible for crimes by and against members of the United States Navy and US Marine Corps. The team of NCIS agents introduced in Season 1 is led by former Marine Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), a tough no-nonsense leader and interrogator. The team also includes ex-homicide detective Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), former Secret Service Special Agent Kate Todd (Sasha Alexander), goth forensics expert Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette), computer specialist and rookie Agent Tim McGee (Sean Murray), and quirky coroner Doctor Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum). Season Two sees the actors further developing their characters, imbuing them with warmth and hinting at complex backstories sure to be explained in future episodes. Harmon does a knockout job as a lead, and Weatherley and Sean Murray create a competitive older-younger brother relationship that is just right. Perrette is a force of nature in every episode and lights up the screen as Abby. Sasha Alexander does well as Kate, but there is just something missing, which could explain why Season Two ended as it did.
In Season Two, the team investigates the usual range of kidnappings, murders, and discovered bodies. Cleverly learning from the strongest episodes in Season One, Season Two gets us more involved in the characters and the show by putting them in harm's way, creating a lasting emotional buy-in. Tony goes undercover and goes missing in Chained, while Ducky is hunted by a killer in The Meat Puzzle, and Kate and Tony are stuck in a biohazard room after exposure to a bio agent in SWAK. Other standout episodes include An Eye for an Eye, Conspiracy Theory, and Lt. Jane Doe. The season ending episode Twilight sees the return of the Mossad-trained diabolical agent Ari, who held Ducky and Kate captive in Season One. The episode is a major changing point in the show, and sets up Season Three with a bang, figuratively. Though there are some clunker episodes like the video game spilling into real life episode Red Cell, even the bad episodes are worth watching because of the cast. Their relationship with one another is what drives the show.
The Season Two DVD box set contains all 23 episodes in widescreen for a total running time of almost 17 hours. Because of its quick turn-around time on the release, the extras are not as good as Season One, with only a few audio commentaries and a featurette. That is the unfortunate trade-off, but given that we get a full season of NCIS on DVD so quickly, its not a bad deal. Fans of the show will quickly snap this up, for those who have never watched before, if you liked JAG, CSI, or Bones, you will like this show. NCIS Season Two demonstrates exactly why this show is such a big hit. The DVD is on shelves on November 14th, one week after JAG Season Two releases. Preorder your copy today.