To be honest, coming in to a show during its last season likely isn’t the smartest of ideas. Having effectively missed the previous nine years of plots and character developments, I’m likely the least qualified person to present an effective review on the tenth (and final) season of this series. Still, it does give me the effective advantage of being an outsider, peering in on what I recall being a very critically-acclaimed series during its tenure.
JAG (Judge Advocate General) is an elite legal branch of military officers trained as lawyers who investigate, prosecute and defend those accused of crimes in the military, including murder, treason and terrorism. Navy Cmdr. Harmon “Harm” Rabb, an ace pilot turned lawyer, and Marine Lt. Col. Sarah “Mac” MacKenzie, a beautiful and strictly by-the-book officer, are colleagues, both with similar high standards, that often find themselves clashing with one another as they take different routes to solve cases. Assisting them with their mission is Navy Lt. Bud Roberts, a lawyer who often surprises his superiors with the breadth of his knowledge, and their boss, the no-nonsense Admiral Chegwidden, a former Navy Seal. Follow them on some of their dramatic investigations with JAG: The Final Season.
On the plus side, I can definitely see where the acclaim comes from. For what it is, JAG is an entertaining show. It serves as a fairly enjoyable show, despite following the standard formula that we see on countless procedurals today. Each episode is fairly predictable, but the writing manages to keep each episode moving along at an easy-to-follow pace. It’s not the most groundbreaking or engaging series I’ve seen, but I can completely understand how this show managed to survive for ten years. I found the characters here, while most did fall in to the standard types we see on procedurals, to be pretty entertaining and worth getting to know. While I’m sure any development I saw here was only miniscule to what was accomplished over the entire series, it’s still note-worthy.
And this is where I come to a problem I’m experiencing with this final season of JAG. According to fans of the series, this season ended up being the weakest of them all. Based on what I saw, I thought season ten provided some good episodes and a nice resolution of characters I got to know over the span of 22 episodes. Again, I haven’t seen the previous 200-ish episodes, but I found the writers did do a good job of establishing the characters and keeping them easy to read. Yes, there weren’t any really complex characters or complicated plots, but this show did serve up nice by-the-book procedural entertainment.
And that is where the problem comes in. While I sincerely doubt anyone is going to by this set, the last season of a series, before any other, it’s lukewarm demeanor doesn’t exactly inspire me to pick up any of the seasons that came before it. Yes, apparently the previous seasons are great, don’t get me wrong they likely are, but there’s nothing here that made me want to run to the store and pick up the first season. I’ll admit to being curious about how the show started while indulging myself in these final season episodes, but it never went further than that. So that could be a problem for those inexplicably wanting to pick up this collection as a means to get into JAG. Some people actually do that, start at the end and work their way forward, and if they do here, I hope they find this series more stirring than I did.
Episodes included in this five-disc DVD box set release are “Hail and Farewell, Part II,” “Corporate Raiders,” “Retrial,” “Whole New Ball Game,” “This Just In from Baghdad,” “One Big Boat,” “Camp Delta,” “There Goes the Neighborhood,” “The Man on the Bridge,” “The Four Percent Solution,” “Automatic for the People,” “The Sixth Juror,” “Heart of Darkness,” “Fit for Duty,” “Bridging the Gulf,” “Straits of Malacca,” “JAG: San Diego,” “Death at the Mosque,” “Two Towns,” “Unknown Soldier,” “Dream Team,” and “Fair Winds and Following Seas.”
Looking at this tenth and final season of JAG, as an outsider primarily, it’s an entertaining if formulaic procedural series, much like the plethora of other procedurals that currently rule the television airwaves. But the characters are likeable enough, the writing containing a nice bit of extra wit, and a nice bit of action tossed in here and there results in a show that is certainly watchable. And, apparently, this is not JAG at its peak, which means that those who opt to start off with this season (for whatever befuddling reason) will have much better material waiting for them in the previous box sets. For longtime fans, I’m sure this will be a must-own, wrapping up of a series with such a devoted following, so run out and pick up this collection of episodes if you have not already. For those who are looking for something new, I would easily stamp this title as Recommended, but keep in mind there are nine other seasons to explore.
A standard home video release, Paramount Home Entertainment has done the tenth and final season of JAG well in terms of audio and video presentation. Now, don’t go in expecting reference quality video and audio, but you will get a clean and clear for the most part. The video is basically the standard transfer for a television series. The anamorphic widescreen transfer experiences the odd bout of softness here or there, particularly when using stock footage, but it manages to stay pretty clear throughout. Colors and blacks are slightly faded, but it’s hardly distracting. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, again, is standard for a television release with the majority of the audio coming from the center speaker. There’s the occasional instance of immersive sound, particularly during some of the action sequences, but those are few and far in-between. Still, what we do get is a standard and completely serviceable sound mix.
Moving on to the extra features, well, I’m sure fans will be incredibly disappointed. The sole bonus feature is a short 2 ½ minute “The Final Goodbye” featurette, a very brief look at the show wrapping up after a successful ten year run. We don’t really get to see much, given the short run time, which is disappointing given the decade-long history of this program. Trailers for other Paramount Home Entertainment releases are also included.
So, as a DVD release collecting the tenth and final season of Jag, it’s nice to have it all together but there should be more to it, in terms of bonus content. It’s an enjoyable show that drew a dedicated fan-base over its ten year history, and the episodes included here give a clear example why. Sadly, I wish the bonus features reflected that. That being said, there’s still plenty of content here to enjoy, specifically the included episodes, so I’m sure the light bonus features are easily forgiven. For fans looking to complete their collection, I definitely give this release the Recommended stamp.
J.A.G.: The Final Season is now available to own on DVD.