TV - JAG

JAG

There is no scientific formula to prove what is a cult show and what isn't, so we just hope you enjoy our look back at those TV shows we personally think of as cult TV. This week Steve Taylor-Bryant takes a look at the N.C.I.S predecessor JAG...

In the mid 1990's when I finally managed to convince the folk I lived with that Sky television wasn't a passing fad, we paid our monthly subscription and had a monstrous dish attached to the flat wall, not that I cared as I planned to spend all of my time, when not working, watching the million channels I now possessed. Okay, maybe a million channels is a slight exaggeration but at the time we still only had four terrestrial television channels so Sky seemed like a never ending goldmine. Quite quickly one channel became a favourite as it showed US dramas serials pretty much all day and night, and BRAVO as it was known then introduced me to a world inside the military that I still watch to this very day, albeit in a different form...JAG.

This was A Few Good Men the TV show, a legal drama, a cop show, a John Grisham book all rolled into one and was incredibly entertaining. Judge Advocate General, to give it its full title meaning, was conceived by television genius Donald P. Bellisario, who created such shows as Magnum P.I., Airwolf and Quantum Leap and starred David James Elliot (Torbin Zixx in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as LT/LCDR/CDR then Captain Harmon Rabb Jnr known as 'Rabb', a United States Judge Advocate or military lawyer if you prefer. Rabb had many female counterparts across the nine seasons, starting with LT Caitlin Pike played by Andrea Parker (Desperate Housewives ) in the pilot, some of season one and an appearance many years later in season six. For the rest of the first season and some of season three, Rabb was joined by LT Meg Austin portrayed by Tracey Needham (VR.5), but it was the longest serving of Rabb's partners that really helped the show hit the heights it deserved (It was cancelled then picked up by another network in the States before it found a place in people’s hearts) Major then LTCOL Sarah MacKenzie or 'Mac' played by the incredible Catherine Bell (Army Wives), a London born model turned actress.

Along with their colleague Navy LtCmdr Bud Roberts (Patrick Labyorteaux - Spider-Man TV series), Mac and Rabb globetrot around investigating, prosecuting, and defending Navy personnel for any kind of crime but mainly Treason and Murder. The chemistry between Rabb and his female colleague played a huge part in the success of the show and the end of the final season they finally agree to marry, even though one is stationed in San Diego and one in London, but we never get to find out who leaves the service and who stays as a JAG. Rabb uses the bravery and quick wits he learned as a Navy fighter pilot and Mac, her smouldering good looks and the crimes are sorted and the Navy personnel acquitted/jailed dependent on the outcome, with a real level of humour throughout all the drama.

Towards the end of the run after CBS said no to an eleventh season and David James Elliot announced he wanted out, Rabb is arrested for a crime he doesn't commit and the two part episode works as an introduction to another section of the Navy justice system N.C.I.S (Navy Criminal Investigative Services) which is now half way through it's eleventh season and has spawned it's own spin off N.C.I.S:Los Angeles, currently in it's fifth season with Chris O'Donell and L.L. Cool J, and with N.C.I.S:New Orleans newly on the scene it's a spin off of a spin off of a spin off if you like.

Whilst N.C.I.S gets a better budget and more network support, there was something quite lovely about JAG. Seeing a great character actor in Elliot and a newbie star in Bell going about their business in a methodical yet exciting way. I am a huge fan of N.C.I.S but JAG will always live in my heart.

Image - IMDb.