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As promised, I have now moved this review over from the TV series section to the proper one for this DVD series. I have changed my original review to be more in depth of the series as a whole. I had asked to Dooyoo to move it, but there seems to be a problem with their email form at the moment.
When I was a kid and off sick from school my Mom and I would relax on the sofa and watch reruns of Perry Mason. Oh, the excitement! A lawyer who investigated the crime, and then bared the shocking truth to all during a face off in a court of law! Bring this idea forward to present times, and for spin, make it a group of lawyers who are naval officers serving in the US Navy and Marine Corp's Judge Advocate General Corps. What a brilliant concept! The lawyers get to investigate all sorts of crimes, from petty theft, to murder, to high treason, recommend military charges, argue against each other in court, as well as advise on the legalities on how to apply the various international rules of engagement and give legal advice on all manner of family law to military family members. Nor are the cast limited to their local base. They get temporary duty assignments to US bases around the world, and shipboard duties. Did you know each naval vessel has a lawyer on board? They do!
While this is set within the US Navy, the ideals of justice, truth, and the pathos of the ordinary human lives will strike a chord with almost any viewer. The added twist of current political world events and how it affects the day to day lives of those who serve adds an interesting dimension, epecially with the all too true instrusion of the broadcast journalists hot on the trail of a story (often shown here by the factually familiar but fictional face of ZNN). Another great viewpoint given within the show is that BOTH sides of the legal argument are presented without overt grandstanding to promote one side over the other. Instead, we get to see the lawyers each state the merits for and against a case, with the throrough research each gives to the case (not just book research either) and have them square off in a court of law, or as in a few epsodes, on the deck of a warship standing for the calm and reasoned voice of law when a ship commander stands poised ready to strike.
I feel that here I should mention the show's creator, producer, and often, writer, Donald P. Belissario. Factually accurate, it is fascinating drama infused with many of the humorous moments that Bellisario is famous for in his other works, as well as the penchant for actual news and promotional film footage woven into relevant stories (such as shots of actual Tomcats taking off and landing on a real aircrft carrier). This makes the show realistic without being heavy. Himself a former Marine, he is a stickler for getting the military details correct. His other well known productions include magnum, PI, Quantum leap, Airwolf, and the JAG "spin off" sensation NCIS.
The main stars of series 1 are:
Tracey Needham Lt Meg Austin
David James Elliot Commander Harmon Rabb Jr
Patrick Labyroteaux Lt Cmdr Bud Roberts
Paul Collins SecNAv (Secretary of the Navy) Alexander Nelson
Michael Bellisario Midshipman Mikey Roberts
John M. Jackson Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden
Whilst this is the first series of the show, the chemistry between the actors is palpable, but it is obvious the characters are getting to know each other which indeed they are, so all is as it should be. I found the portrayal by John M. Jackson to be particularly realistic, reminding me of miltary commanders I have served under myself many years ago (let's not think on just how many years). I enjoyed the non stilted portayal of Bud Roberts especially well too. He is the earnest young man everyone knows from high school. He comes from a unidealised background, and is still troubled by his family, in ways that many of us can identify with to some extent or another. Lt Meg Austin was a breath of fresh air to the genre too; she was human and not a gung ho or ditzy female role played off for the "hero". Likable ensemble cast altogether, and played as an ensemble, much like MASH was, though, like MASH, stories tend to revlve around a central character, in this case, Harmon Rabb. I won't say much about Harm, as his extremely good looks get in the way of my judgement. MMmmm...especially if he is those dress whites...oops...I was not going to say much...
Right, now you more or less know the sort of show let's chat about what you get by purchasing the box set edition. You get the entire first series' 21 episodes, in order and unedited. Excellent on their own, this first series is where they set the stage for the phenomenon that was to make this series rival MASH in historical worldwide popularity.
The episodes are:
3. Desert Son
4. Déjà vu
5. Pilot error
6. War Cries
7. Brig Break
11. The Brotherhood
12. Defensive Action
15. High Ground
16. Black Ops
19. the prisoner
21. Skeleton Crew part 1 (rare unaired episode!)
You can read a synopsis of these episodes at http://www.tv.com/jag/show/242/episode_guide.html if you have a mind to.
Quality and Extras:
Paramount not only did an excellent job in transferring the pictures; the sound quality is crystal clear and presented in Dolby Surround Sound. You will probably jump the first time a Tomcat buzzes by your ear! This is one TV to DVD release that will definitely do a home theatre sound system justice.
As for extras, this is where people without multiregional DVD players get kicked in the teeth. The Region 1 box set has several extras, including episode commentaries, behind the scenes looks with actual footage, as well as a "making of" featurette. All VERY wonderful, and interesting, but, and in my opinion, a very BIG but, these are NOT on the Region 2 set. I repeat, except for the episode Skeleton crew, there is not a single item of bonus material to be had if you purchase the Region 2 box set. Luckily I came across this item of information BEFORE I spent my money, so I ordered a Region 1 box set instead.
Though I found it worth my while to purchase the Region 1 Boxset, I feel I should mention the fact that these are RCE coded discs. In the past, name branded DVD players of ours refused to awknowledge that we could play these type of discs as the player was multiregion. We did not have this issue when we went for non big brand name DVD players and recorders, however. It has been my own personal observation that big brand DVD player manufacturers often have stakes in making and selling DVDs, so this is the reason behind the RCE encoding that their own players check for. I will add this is my own opinion, and I have no concrete proof of any conspiracies! But just the same, my Asda branded DVD player that was mutiregioned, and my Bush brand mutliregioned player, and our LITE ON DVD recorder do not have trouble playing these discs :) Just something to consider if you are pondering buying the Region 1 boxsets!
Regardless of which version you buy or decide to rent, just do it already. You definitely do not wish to miss out on a spectacular programme! And if while youa re waiting for your set to arrive, you want a taster, I can tell you the series is being screened on cable and sattelite channel FX in correct order.
ike a small-screen version of A FEW GOOD MEN, the television series JAG delves into the world of military justice with a stirring blend of action and drama. Created by TV stalwart Donald Bellisario (MAGNUM P.I., QUANTUM LEAP), the series follows two JAG (Judge Advocate General) officers, fighter-pilot-turned-lawyer Harmon 'Harm' Rabb (David James Elliott) and his partner, Meg Austin (Tracey Needham), as they investigate and prosecute military crimes within the Marine Corps and Navy. This collection presents all 21 episodes of the debut series.