JAG: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Although an exceedingly popular fixture on the CBS network for nine seasons, JAG actually started out on NBC; although in its initial run, the series pretty much withered and died in the ratings. When JAG jumped ship to the rival network, the series was retooled and recast, except for its leading man, and it was in this new incarnation that series enjoyed its glory days. While the series earliest episodes may not be the best remembered, the series concept was a solid one and the show proved enjoyable, even if JAG had yet to click with an audience.
For those who have never seen JAG, the series title is an acronym for the Judge Advocate General, which serves to investigate, and if necessary, defend and prosecute crimes involving military personnel. JAG combines elements of mystery, action/adventure, courtroom drama, espionage, romance and the police procedural to create a highly enjoyable hour-long television drama. David James Elliott stars in JAG as former Navy aviator and current JAG lawyer Lt. Harmon 'Harm' Rabb Jr.. The season one cast of JAG also features Tracey Needham as Lt. Meg Austin and reoccurring appearances by Patrick Labyorteaux, who would become a series regular in season two.
JAG: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($65) comes to DVD in a six-disc set, which features all twenty-one episodes (including a double length pilot episode) that were aired during the series freshman year. The episodes are as follows: Pilot (A New Life), Shadow, Desert Son, Deja Vu, Pilot Error, War Cries, Brig Break, Scimitar, Boot, Sightings, The Brotherhood, Defensive Action, Smoked, Hemlock, High Ground, Black Ops, Survivors, Recovery, The Prisoner, Ares and Skeleton Crew.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-one episodes from JAG: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The episodes do look good on DVD and certainly better than a syndicated rebroadcast. Other than an occasionally soft shot and military stock footage, the episodes are fairly consistent in appearance, offering a crisp and well-defined image, at least, by television standards. Colors are rendered at a fairly natural level of saturation and the flesh tones appear fine. Blacks are accurate and the whites donít exhibit any problems. The seriesí photography can be a bit flat looking at times, but thatís just a limitation of productions created for the television medium. Mild blemishes crop up in places, but the film elements appear fairly well preserved. Grain is noticeable, but never excessiveÖ well, if you donít count the stock footage. Digital compression artifacts are well contained.
All the episodes that comprise JAG: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON feature Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtracks, which decode to standard surround. Since the material is of the mid 1990s variety, the soundtracks are well served by the matrixed surround presentations, although a 5.1 upgrade wouldnít have hurt. As the series is fairly talky, most of the sound is localized to the front with the rears adding bits of ambience and musical fill. When compared to a theatrical feature, the occasional combat sequences really donít impress sonically, but they do fairly well for a television production. Musical fidelity is more than respectable. No other language tracks or subtitles are provided.
The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Series creator/executive producer Donald P. Bellisario is on hand to provide a running audio commentary on the pilot episode. How The Series Took Flight is a seven-minute overview of the series creation and the general direction NBC wanted for the show. JAG: An Inside Look clocks in at thirteen minutes and features members of the cast and crew, who discuss season one of the series in more detail. The Military Accuracy runs four minutes and the title is pretty self-explanatory.
While season one of JAG is different from what most fans are familiar with, it is entertaining, even minus the majority of its most popular characters. Paramountís DVD release looks and sounds good, which will keep fans happy. JAG is a great television series and I am certainly looking forward to seasons two through ten, which feature Catherine Bell.
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