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DVD Review: JAG – The Eighth Season

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A few years back a friend and I met this young lady who said she wanted to be a J.A.G. She, of course, meant that she wanted to be in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. We asked her for more details, our ill-bred Canadian minds never having heard such a thing, and she promptly told us that her dream to be a J.A.G. was because of the television series with the same name. I remember how ridiculous I thought that was. Having never seen the show, we simply laughed it off and moved on with our day.

Some time later I would see JAG on TV and I remember wanting urgently to join the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Canadian or not. And I remember exactly why: Catherine Bell.

Fast-forward several years later and JAG is now making the rounds on DVD. The show ran for 10 seasons with a total of 227 episodes. It even sprouted a spinoff in NCIS. JAG was a sort of A Few Good Men mixed with a little subdued television mystery. Endorsed by the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps, I’m told that JAG “gets it right” in terms of many of the procedural elements and technical aspects.

But does JAG “get it right” in terms of entertainment?

JAG stars David James Elliot as Harmon Rabb, the show’s lead protagonist. He’s a Judge Advocate and his job is to serve as legal representation to various military men and women who find themselves in some sort of trouble. His partner for the bulk of the series’ run is Lieutenant Colonel Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie (Bell). The relationship between Rabb and Mac is often explored throughout the run of the series, with romantic tension and comical situations peppering the cases they work on together.

Lieutenant Commander Bud Roberts Jr. (Patrick Labyorteaux), Lieutenant Harriet Simms (Karri Turner), Sturgis Turner (Scott Lawrence), and Rear Admiral Albert Jethro 'A.J.' Chegwidden (John M. Jackson) form the remainder of the basic core group of characters.

JAG – The Eighth Season is now available on DVD. It continues the series as it left off on a cliffhanger in Season Seven.

Bud has lost his leg and his recovery is the focus of much of Season Eight. He also deals with his relationship with his father in “The Promised Land.” Lieutenant Loren Singer (Nanci Chambers) is also up to her villainous tricks until an unfortunate incident draws Harm as a suspect and introduces the spinoff NCIS team for the first time. The season ends on a cliffhanger, of course, with Harm looking for Mac in Paraguay.

Fans of fairly conventional television programming will enjoy JAG – The Eighth Season. It is formulaic and easy to understand. There are moments of action and suspense, but the show generally has a humorous edge that keeps things from getting overly solemn. It lacks the camp value of Walker and the good nature of Matlock, however, and can be quite dreary at times.

I’m not sure if I still want to be in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. It’s interesting how time changes things. I’d still charge earnestly into Paraguay after Mac, though.

The DVD set features each of the Season Eight episodes and a "gag reel."

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