After 7 years JAG had pretty much settled in. It’s usually at this time that a show has to shake things up a bit or become somewhat stagnant. I think that JAG took the latter course. I have to believe that much of the creative talent was already working on the NCIS spin-off that was now 2 years away. The characters don’t appear to be taking any risks, and there is a little more of a return to the soap opera elements that began to fade away, making it a better show for some time.
Most of each episode is dedicated to the investigation of the particular case. For action junkies, this often means flying some sweet high tech aircraft. The show’s primary character, Commander Harmon “Harm” Rabb (Elliott) does a lot of the high flying investigations. He was once an ace pilot who developed night blindness, which essentially grounded him.
The second element of JAG, of course, is the courtroom drama. Like Law & Order, the show takes us through a case from its beginning through to its court disposition. It is here that all of those legalese junkies got their fix each week. There were usually those “Perry Mason Moments” where a surprise witness or a late arriving key piece of evidence offers a suspenseful twist on the trial’s outcome.
John M. Jackson has the best role as Admiral Chegwidden. Fans of Bones will recall his appearances as Sam Cullen, the Deputy Director of the FBI. Coincidence or not, he was also Captain West in the aforementioned A Few Good Men. Catherine Bell looks like something out of a 1940’s film playing Sarah “Mac” Mackenzie. I’m not sure if it’s the hairstyle, makeup, or the soft light and color of the show that gives me that impression, but it’s one I just can’t shake. Trevor Goddard, who died of a suspected drug overdose in 2003, brought his penchant for playing villains to the lawyer role here. The cast, while not remarkable, was pretty solid, but so much relationship baggage got in the way, and JAG ended up never more than a good or average show for the 10 years it played.
Each episode of JAG is presented in its original broadcast 1.85:1 aspect ratio. At the time of airing you might not have been watching in HD, so these prints will be a welcome treat for you. While there is at times a bit of grain, the presentation is mostly pretty solid. The colors are often soft, but there seemed to be an intentional lean that way, particularly on interior scenes. At times the exterior stuff gets pretty bright, and colors find themselves nearly dead reference.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is a little disappointing when you get to the more action packed elements of the show. It would be so nice to have some real zing and swoosh to the aircraft material. The courtroom stuff is served just fine by the presentation, however, and dialog is always easy to hear.
I keep trying to like this show. It appears to have everything I like in a series. It has the tough action and the courtroom drama. The creative team is also a good one with a solid performance record. In the 6th year I was starting to really get into the series but found myself going backwards in year 7. Perhaps the team was distracted, and the events of 9/11 would had to have had some impact on this kind of a show running at this time. For that I’ll let the show off with a warning this year and look for better in its 8th season. Case dismissed “due to inadequate counsel”.