The concept of JAG is pretty simple, I mean, it’s A Few Good Men on the small screen, using sets and footage from other recent armed forces films and hopefully enough pretty people that viewers will enjoy it. However, that wasn’t the case initially, but JAG is one of those shows that helps prove how sometimes you’ve got to give enough time for people to catch onto it before it takes hold.
From week to week in Season One, the creators kept trying to find a female offic…r that Harm (David James Elliott, Clockwatchers) could play off of. They tried Caitlin Pike (Andrea Parker, Body Shot), then they tried Meg Austin (Tracey Needham, Sensation). Then they found a striking tall brunette scientologist named Sarah MacKenzie, a.k.a. “Mac”, played by Catherine Bell (Bruce Almighty). And that’s when things started to pick up.
Well, not immediately, as the show was still airing on NBC. In fact, the show’s first season was such a resounding success that it was cancelled before getting picked up by CBS and the rest being history. The show dealt with a new issue every week, loosely surrounded by real life-events, and to see the blossoming chemistry between Elliott and Bell way back when is somewhat kitschy to see.
And it’s not to say that the film focuses exclusively on the pair, as the supporting cast is capable and provides their share of comic moments. Among them are Bud (Patrick Labyorteaux, Summer School), one of the junior officers along with his wife Harriet (Karri Turner, Heroes), and the commanding officer of the bunch is Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden (John M. Jackson, who had a minor role in A Few Good Men). All in all, the show provides some entertaining moments, even if there aren’t too many early on in its existence.
Straightforward 2 channel Dolby stereo here. Quick and direct, just like the military.
A long running show on the cusp of the high definition window without opening it up, damn! Oh well, the full frame presentation is OK, the Navy whites aren’t really blown out and everything looks perfectly adequate.
The extras on this set are what you’d find on any other set, which is to say they’re quick and easy. There are commentaries on three of the episodes in the 16 episode run. “We the People” featured commentary by Bell, which wasn’t too bad, except it could have been better if Elliott was there to contribute. “Crossing the Line” features one by producers Donald Bellisario and another producer whose name escapes me, which was a little bit better and more tech-heavy. Wrapping up the commentary tracks is one on Disc Three’s “Washington Holiday” with Labyorteaux and Turner, which is pretty friendly and full of fond memories. The remaining special features on Disc Four start with the usual look at the Season, featuring new interviews with the cast and crew as they recall where the show stood, and Bell recalls being brought onto the show (turns out she was killed in the last episode of Season One, but as a different character). The casts provides some minor backstories to their roles, and they all share their thoughts on working with (and getting permission to shoot some things from) the Navy and Marines, and everyone sares their personal favorite episodes. Not all bad here. “Inside the Real JAG Corps” features interviews by real military lawyers as they recall why they wanted to join, what they did before and includes a quick look at the history and future of the JAG Corps.
If you like the show, you’ve probably already picked this up. Otherwise for the casual fan, I’d probably wait another season or two (which is when the stride really hit) in order to take the plunge on watching some of the episodes.
Special Features List
- Selected Episode Commentary
- Season Two Overview
- Inside the Real JAG Corps