HTF DVD REVIEW: JAG: The Final Season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Hough, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    JAG: The Final Season

    Directed by Terrence O’Hara et al

    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 2004-2005
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
    Running Time: 969 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround English
    Subtitles: CC

    MSRP: $ 64.99

    Release Date: February 9, 2010

    Review Date: January 29, 2010


    The Series
    4/5

    The ladies and gentlemen of the Judge Advocate General’s Office come forward for one last hurrah on JAG: The Final Season. After a ten year run, the show had run its course though many wondered how long it might have continued to run had CBS not moved it to Friday night during its ninth season. Regardless, the show remained front and center with an interesting series of cases (many inspired by the war in Iraq and Afghanistan), some stirring developments in the personal lives of the series’ intriguing characters, and some new faces joining the show during its final year.

    For those who might not be aware of the program’s premise, the stories usually involved military cases assigned to the Judge Advocate General’s office with hearings and court martials covering everything from disputed fishing rights in international waters between American and Canadian men to charges of excessive force used on potential terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. As in earlier seasons, not all episodes revolved about courtroom activities. The season premiere had nothing to do with a trial as the cliffhanger from the previous season involving the alleged death of undercover operative Clayton Webb (Steven Culp) is investigated by his love Lt. Colonel Sarah MacKenzie (Catherine Bell). With the retirement of Admiral A. J. Chegwidden (John M. Jackson) the previous season, a new head of the agency was needed, and he’s finally found in the person of Major General “Biff” Cresswell (David Andrews). A no-nonsense marine, Cresswell is eyed with skepticism by the staff until his fairness and objectivity is eventually ascertained. Additional non-trial episodes involved everything from explorations into the feasibility of female marines taking part in the interservice boxing tournament, probing into the crash of a fighter jet near an elementary school, and mysteries concerning possible bioterrorism.

    With the series drawing to a close, the show was finally able to explore just a little the romantic dynamic between Commander Harm Rabb (David James Elliott) and Colonel MacKenzie, something that had always been there between them but never delved into at any length as each had been involved with a succession of romances through the seasons. In fact, the Christmas episode this season focused specifically on Col. MacKenzie’s topsy-turvy history with men and her unresolved feelings for Harm.

    With many of the supporting players like Petty Officer Tiner (Chuck Carrington) from previous seasons gone, some of the slack was taken up by Petty Officer Jennifer Coates (Zoe McLellan), Lt. Bud Roberts (Patrick Labyorteaux), and Harm’s chief rival in the office Sturgis Turner (Scott Lawrence). Roberts’ wife Harriet (Karri Turner), no longer a regular on the show, popped up in a couple of guest appearances, especially when Bud goes on trial for assaulting a civilian in a shoe store. Among other new additions in the second half of the season were cocky Navy lawyer Lt. Gregory Vukovic (Chris Beetem) and the chatterbox mystery buff Lt. Catherine Graves (Jordana Spiro).

    The final season’s twenty-two episodes are contained on five discs in slimline cases in the traditional box:

    1 – Hail and Farewell (Part 2)
    2 – Corporate Raiders
    3 – Retrial
    4 – Whole New Ball Game
    5 – This Just in from Baghdad
    6 – One Big Boat
    7 – Camp Delta
    8 – There Goes the Neighborhood
    9 – The Man on the Bridge
    10 – The Four Percent Solution
    11 – Automatic for the People
    12 – The Sixth Juror
    13 – Heart of Darkness
    14 – Fit for Duty
    15 – Bridging the Gulf
    16 – Straits of Malacca
    17 – JAG: San Diego
    18 – Death at the Mosque
    19 – Two Towns
    20 – Unknown Soldier
    21 – Dream Team
    22 – Fair Winds and Following Seas


    Video Quality
    3.5/5

    The transfers are framed at the broadcast ratio of 1.78:1 and are anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. Transfer quality really runs the gamut with the show this season with everything from sparkling, clean, and sharp transfers to experimental video in the same soft, grainy, brown style like the early seasons of NCIS (which one expects with that series but not with JAG). The establishing shots of aircraft carriers, battleships, and marinas are as soft and unappealing as ever, and there are quite a few instances of edge enhancement and, to a lesser extent, moiré patterns to be seen. Still, the majority of the episodes are clean and appealing with good color and consistent flesh tones. Each episode has been divided into 7 chapters.


    Audio Quality
    3.5/5

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround mix keeps most of the ambient sounds across the front soundstage with the rears mainly used for the background score which never overwhelms the dialogue rooted firmly to the center channel. There is one excellent instance of a front to rear pan, when two jets swoop close to the ground and fly overhead, but otherwise, one will be disappointed with the lack of immersive sound during the many firefights and explosions which happen during season ten of the series.


    Special Features
    1/5

    The set’s sole extra is “The Final Goodbye,a very brief acknowledgement of his thanks and gratitude by star David James Elliott to the cast and crew at the conclusion of the show’s final scene. One of the show’s producers also expresses his teary-eyed thanks for ten wonderful years in this 2 ¼-minute, nonanamorphic widescreen vignette.

    There are trailers for the CBS/Paramount procedurals, Hawaii Five-O, Star Trek on Blu-ray, and Walker, Texas Ranger.


    In Conclusion
    3.5/5 (not an average)

    So, the ten seasons of JAG come to a wonderful conclusion in this tenth season box set with an excellent series of episodes but lacking the kind of retrospective tribute the show really deserves.



    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC
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  2. Richard Gallagher

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    Thanks for the review, Matt. I'll pick this up eventually, but I'll wait for a price drop. I just ordered Season 8 from Amazon for $22.50. Patience pays off, sometimes.
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Yes, indeed. I waited a long, long time to pick up the first three seasons of NCIS for a reasonable price. Eventally got them for $20 and change, but it was a long, long wait.
     
  4. kemcha

    kemcha Second Unit

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    I've been buying the JAG season sets as they have been released and I have to say that I'm excited to finally complete this series. That's one series I can mark off my list. I have to admit that my TV Show DVD purchases have been winding down now that a large part of my library of DVD titles have been completed.

    I'll be ordering Season 9 this coming week and I'll be able to complete my CSI series, the original series.

    I have to say that I haven't been impressed with NCIS: LA. It's a weak series. I think I've watched the JAG series straight through Season 8 a few times. It's sad that Kerri Turner wasn't a visible presence for the final season but I'll actually have been able to watch the entire series, despite having watched the series in repeats during rebroadcasts.
     

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