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HTF DVD REVIEW: JAG: The Fifth Season

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#1 of 5 Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer

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Posted January 25 2008 - 09:08 AM


JAG: The Fifth Season
Directed by Alan J. Levi et al

Studio: Paramount
Year: 1999-2000
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 1106 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround English
Subtitles: CC
MSRP: $ 64.99

Release Date: January 29, 2008
Review Date: January 25, 2008


The Series

4/5

When David James Elliott’s Lieutenant Commander Harm Rabb decided to leave the JAG Corps at the end of the fourth season of JAG and return to combat aviation, there were fans who were frightened the popular actor was leaving the series. No worries! By the fourth episode of season five, Harm was back in Virginia once again facing off with colleagues in a series of intriguing military trials and court-martials.

Besides Elliott’s focal character, Catherine Bell returned for another season as Lieutenant Colonel Sarah MacKenzie and for much of the comedy relief Patrick Labyorteaux again played Lieutenant Bud Roberts. John M. Jackson was once again Admiral A. J. Chegwidden, and adding flavor to the office were Petty Officer Tiner (Chuck Carrington) and Roberts’ wife Harriet (Karri Turner).

By the fifth season, the cast had really begun to jell with outstanding ensemble acting, each performer playing to his own strengths and the strengths of his fellow actors. Recurring characters like Australian Mic Brumby (Trevor Goddard) and new recurring character Gunnery Sergeant Victor Galindez (Randy Vasquez) kept the episodes a neat mixture of legal procedural and character based interactions. What’s more, all three series leads who were single at the start of the season embarked on romantic relationships during the season. Those scenes added to the characterizations of the leads without intruding into the basic procedural nature of the series.

While the show is primarily a legal drama, not every episode took the characters into a courtroom. One episode in particular “Cabin Pressure” was a tense rescue at sea story while “Rogue” involved a runaway submarine stolen by a military training expert to prove how lax naval security was. The trials are almost always over disputed military conduct, and it’s to the writers’ credit that these continue to hold one’s attention so raptly. True, cases sometimes might be seen to very closely resemble A Few Good Men, Executive Decision, or Witness for the Prosecution, but why not “borrow” from the best if you’re going to filch?

Only a few episodes that tried something different didn’t quite measure up. The most unsuccessful of these was “Ghosts of Christmas Past” which took the action back to 1969 with Elliott playing his father and the rest of the cast assuming other personalities. In the flashback scenes, the widescreen 16:9 frame would shrink to 4:3 dimensions, but, sadly, much of the cast was out of its depth with Karri Turner a particularly miserable Phyllis Diller and Catherine Bell playing a famous singer when the actress can barely carry a tune.

Here’s the line-up of season five’s twenty-five episodes contained on seven discs:

1 - King of the Green Board
2 - Rules of Engagement
3 - True Callings
4 - The Return
5 - Front and Center
6 - Psychic Warrior
7 - Rogue
8 - The Colonel’s Wife
9 - Contemptuous Words
10 - Mishap
11 - Ghosts of Christmas Past
12 - Into the Breech
13 - Life or Death
14 - Cabin Pressure
15 - Boomerang Part 1
16 - Boomerang Part 2
17 - The People V. Gunny
18 - The Bridge at Kang So Ri
19 - Promises
20 - Drop Zone
21 - The Witches of Gulfport
22 - Overdue and Presumed Lost
23 - Real Deal SEAL
24 - Body Talk (my favorite episode of the season, an excellent murder mystery)
25 - Surface Warfare

Video Quality

3.5/5

The show’s 1.78:1 aspect ratio is presented in these anamorphically enhanced transfers. The color is rich in these episodes, but once again, it’s an uneasy mix of sharp soundstage filming and fuzzier stock footage and second unit work. Some videotaped air and sea photography has also been added to the mix giving the image another level of erratic sharpness. Despite the welcome anamorphic enhancement, there is still aliasing, and jaggies (no pun intended) are also present. Edge enhancement is also glimpsed in some episodes though not in every program. Each show has been divided into 6 chapters.

Audio Quality

3.5/5

The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround track is more than adequate in centering the dialog into the center channel and spreading music and effects work in the side speakers and surrounds with some surprising heft in the bass during battle sequences.

Special Features

1/5

A 3-minute gag reel includes some funny flubs from the two top-billed stars but almost nothing from the other actors. It's presented in nonanamorphic widescreen.

In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)

JAG is a very entertaining procedural drama which was at its best during this fifth season. Almost all of the stories are strong with only one or two less than satisfying episodes in the mix.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

[PG]Jag Fifth Season[/PG]

#2 of 5 Mark Talmadge

Mark Talmadge

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Posted January 25 2008 - 02:09 PM

This one is definitely on my must have list and I'll be picking it up when it's released on Tuesday. It's a good thing that I finally finished watching the last two disks of Season 4. Thanks for the review ... although it was a bit mediocre ... personally, I never care for those flashback to the 60's episodes ... it detracts from the series when a television show does a flashback episode ...

#3 of 5 BobSchneider

BobSchneider

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Posted January 25 2008 - 03:18 PM

Ok I pick up jag s5 last saturday at my favority used dvd store in pasadena califorina (I think ethier the la weekly or LA times dvd reviewer sells their reviewer's copys there LOL ) Any how due to a lousy case of winter bronktis (home form work last friday) , Ive already motored thought jag S5 its alot of fun, and I agree that the weakest episode is the xmas one "ghost of christmas past" and I think its the worst christmas eposide of the series I've seen so far, but seen C. bell giggle around in that low cut blouse she wore most of the episode almost made it worth the watch.Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image lol. But over all S5 has alot of fun espisode, loads of action, Harms return to jag, drama and humor in the usual proportion typical of any Don Bellariso drama. My only real complanit beside the lame christmas episode, is(at least in my mind) the generally unbelivable plot thread of mac and brumby romance? I never believed mac would fall for a lug nut like brumby, But any how I digress. S5 of jag as RC would say about WWW , jag S5 escapest enterianment of the finnest kind , (epecially if you can get a pristine used copy for 30.00Posted Image).
Q: Why do you care?

A: You'll never know.

#4 of 5 onecent

onecent

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Posted January 26 2008 - 06:26 AM

Another great review, Matt. Thanks!

#5 of 5 Pete Battista

Pete Battista

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Posted January 27 2008 - 04:31 AM

Thanks for the review... looking forward to adding it to my collection.