“The only message the show has is this: U. S. Navy is #1! U. S. Navy is #1! U. S. Navy is #1! U. S. Navy is #1! U. S. Navy is #1! U. S. Navy is #1! U. S. Navy is #1! U. S. Navy is #1! U. S. Navy is #1! U. S. Navy is #1!”
“My mother was a JAG off[icer].”
“Only you may examine my body of evidence.”
JAG was a show that ran on NBC for one season in 1995 then went over to CBS in 1997 and ran until 2005. Mostly only old people watched it, something that is a given, given that it aired on CBS, as well as servicemembers at Walter Reed too injured to be able to change the channel. It was created by Donald Bellisario, whose better shows include Quantum Leap and Magnum, P. I. Part of the problem with JAG was that after season 6, Bellisario decided to fire all the writers and use fanfiction as the basis for new episodes.
The show is a realistic depiction of what it's like to be a lawyer in the military. One minute you're filing a memo, the next you're strapped into a helo to go aboard an aircraft carrier, the next you're fighting hand to hand with Chechen terrorists. It's all in a day's work. The only show on TV with greater military authenticity was GI Joe.
JAG also correctly portrayed military defendants as brave, stoic men who always fell on their sword for someone else. This is exactly what happens in the military justice system in real life.
The show also made it clear that it's very difficult for a single man to balance his career his personal life. In almost every single episode, Harm's ticking biological clock was personified in the form of a CG dancing baby. Harm's therapist, Commander Tracy, counseled Harm to kick the baby in order to regain his sanity. In the tenth season, however, it was revealed that the dancing baby really represented Mattie, who was born after Harm donated sperm to a bank.
The protagonist was Harmon Rabb, Jr. (David James Elliott, who went on to play the Janitor on Scrubs), a former Navy pilot who became a lawyer and then figured out ways to fly a jet every time he went aboard a carrier. He was in love with a Marine lawyer named Sarah MacKenzie (Catherine Bell) but he was too chicken to tell her how he felt until the last season. Their boss was Admiral A. J. Chegwidden (John M. Jackson), a fruity old man who couldn't hold a candle to Jean-Luc Picard, but like Picard started French and became more and more British.
Harm's first partner was Lt. Pike (Andrea Parker), but NBC wanted a perky blonde so they twisted Bellisario's arm to fire Parker and get Tracey Needham (who played Lt. Meg Austin, niece of Oliver North.)
Bud Roberts (Patrick Labyorteaux) was a Public Affairs Officer aboard the USS Chicken of the Sea but then went to work at JAG as a lawyer. Since the actor lost his leg in real life, his character also lost his leg in the show when he stepped on a land mine in season 7. His ball and chain is Lieutenant Harriet Sims (Karri Turner), with whom he had seven children, all named after coworkers at JAG.
Harriet is easily the most annoying character on JAG. They should have killed her off. Instead they offed with the feisty Lt. Singer (Nanci Chambers). Lt. Singer was a total bitch, but at least she wasn't shrill and stupid like Harriet.
JAG didn't add a token black guy until season 7: Commander Sturgis Turner (Scott Lawrence). Even before that, the show was constantly showing black guys as officers, as if to atone for the times black guys were shown as murderers. It was like, "OK, in this episode this black guy strangles a little girl, but we make up for it in the next episode by having a black guy be the base commander."
JAG also didn't have an original or non generic character until the arrival of Lieutenant Commander Mic Brumby (Trevor Goddard); an Australian Navy officer with the horny hots for Mac. He was truly the only saving factor for the show for the next three seasons as his lovable horn-dog personality truly captivated audiences. His swaggering personality eventually got him engaged with Mac only to find she didn't have an attraction to closet perverts and craved boring white men instead. He simply dusts off the rejection and heads back to good Australia with his friends in the USA singing "Waltzing Matilda" as he departs. The show started sucking again.
Just in case you got bored with the main characters, JAG had a bunch of recurring characters. There's the Seahawk CAG, played by Terry O'Quinn (better known as the bald dude from Lost) who in season 7 became a dog robber Admiral, and Petty Officer Coates (Zoe McLellan), who was accused of stealing that bitch Singer's necklace, and Montel Williams as a tough-love Navy SEAL, etc. The CIA agent Rex Van de Kamp (Steven Culp), who showed CIA agents are always trustworthy.
CIA agent Rex Van de Kamp was one of the men with whom MacKenzie took up time while waiting for Harm. There was also the Australian Naval officer and home cleaning products salesman Mic Brumby, and in a special don't ask, don't tell episode, Ally McBeal. For his part, Harm whiled away the time he wasn't with Mac with Hollywood producer Renee and later with Congresswoman Bobbi Latham (Anne Marie Johnson). However, the relationship with Bobbi couldn't go very far because she's black and could thus only be paired with the token black guy, which the show didn't even have until season 7.
Each of the main characters have each been accused of murder three times, and have left the Navy ten times. Conveniently, when they come back, it turns out that Admiral Chegwidden conveniently forgot to process their letters of resignation.
Even though the U. S. Navy was willing to help Bellisario since the show's second season, he was too lazy to take them up on their offer. So instead he just bootlegged other military movies like Top Gun and A Few Good Men, and spliced that footage into his show. Bellisario also plagiarized news footage. In the second episode, Bill Clinton is seen jogging and he waves to someone. Then we see Harm wave back. Then we see Bill Clinton re-run the same few yards he ran just a second ago. Bellisario also stole footage from World War II movies.
The costumes were all bought from the Army/Navy surplus store, so that's why Catherine Bell wanted the writers to give her every opportunity to ditch the uniform. Actually, half the fans of the show were just OK with that.
The backstory for Harm is that his daddy, who looks just like him except with a fake mustache, was a naval aviator who went MIA in Vietnam, so Harm Jr. went there to look for him. In the first three seasons of the show he gets clues that daddy wound up in Siberia. He finds his corpse in season 4. Oh, and it turns out in the next season that he has a long-lost twin brother, Sergey Harmonov Rabbovsky, who also looks just like him except he's got a goatee and speaks Russian.
But they also had time to draw out the boring will-they-won't-they dance between Harm and Mac. The two shouldn't be together and it was obvious to everyone but them. In the series finale, Mac decides to give up her military career so she can bear Harm several sets of twins.
|Number||Title||Air Date||Locations||Plot Outline|
|1.01 (1.01 and 1.02)||A New Life (Pilot)||September 23, 1995|| The Adriatic Sea |
|A butch lesbian beats a male sailor at weightlifting.|
|1.03||Shadow||September 30, 1995|| Bermuda Triangle |
Northeast of Cuba
Off The Coast of Miami, Florida
|Harm and Meg confront a computer geek with a torpedo.|
|1.04||Desert Son||October 7, 1995||Twenty Nine Palms Marine Base, California||A spoiled Marine brat gets in trouble.|
|1.05||Déjà Vu||October 21, 1995|| Arlington National Cemetery |
|Harm sees ghosts at Arlington National Cemetery.|
|1.06||Pilot Error||October 28, 1995||Miramar Naval Air Station, California||A sleazy civilian contractor kills Navy pilots.|
|1.07||War Cries||November 4, 1995|| Lima, Peru |
Santa Rosa, Peru
|Harm and Mac have to rescue the Ambassador to Peru before he wets his pants.|
|1.08||Brig Break||December 2, 1995||Seatac Island Naval Base, Washington||Meg is taken hostage and Harm has to rescue her.|
|1.09||Scimitar||December 9, 1995|| Kuwait |
|Marines try to get a headstart in the search for empty WMD shells.|
|1.10||Boot||January 6, 1996|| Parris Island, South Carolina |
|Meg goes undercover to boot camp and has to do push-ups.|
|1.11||Sightings||January 13, 1996||Del Rio, Texas||JAG meets The X-Files.|
|1.12||The Brotherhood||February 3, 1996|| Camp Pendleton, California |
Los Angeles, California
|Harm and Mac pretend to be rappers.|
|1.13||Defensive Action||March 13, 1996|| Bosnian "No-fly zone" |
Neretva River, Bosnia
The Adriatic Sea
|Rabb defends the CAG who shot down a camel jockey from the sky.|
|1.14||Smoked||March 20, 1996|| Off The Coast Of Cuba |
20,000 Feet Over Florida
|Harm craves Cuban cigars so he finds an excuse to go to Cuba and get his fix.|
|1.15||Hemlock||March 27, 1996|| The Pentagon, Virginia |
|Something about a Russian assassin.|
|1.16||High Ground||April 3, 1996||Quantico, Virginia||Plot stolen from Full Metal Jacket Act 1.|
|1.17||Black Ops||April 10, 1996|| Washington D.C. |
Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico
The Caribbean Sea
|Navy SEALs frag a Senator's son.|
|1.18||Survivors||April 17, 1996|| Vietnam (1972) |
Santa Ana, California
Big Pine, California
|JAG meets Crossing Over With John Edward.|
|1.19||Recovery||May 1, 1996||Vandenberg AFB, California||Harm and Meg try not to fall asleep while watching a NASA launch.|
|1.20||The Prisoner||May 8, 1996|| Nantou, China |
|Harm checks into a Chinese prison cell.|
|1.21||Ares||May 22, 1996|| Okinawa, Japan |
Kyushu (Sasebo), Japan
The Sea of Japan
Off the North Korean Coast
|More computer trouble.|
|1.22||Skeleton Crew||1999||Norfolk, Virginia||Catherine Bell gets killed, but she's not really Catherine Bell, and she won't be until the next season.|
They thought the older viewers would get confused about Harm piloting planes one minute and arguing in court the next, so they added a prologue to explain it.
|Number||Title||Air Date||Locations||Plot Outline|
|2.01 (23)||We the People||January 3, 1997||Washington, DC; Arizona||Catherine Bell shows up at JAG but everyone forgets her character is supposed to be dead. Oh, and the U.S. Declaration of Independence gets stolen by militia men.|
|2.02 (24)||Secrets||January 10, 1997||JAG Headquarters, Virginia||They hadn't built the courtroom set yet, so they came up with an excuse to have a trial in Chegwidden's office.|
|2.03 (25)||Jinx||January 17, 1997||Marine Corps Air Station Miramar|
USS ''America'' (CV-66)
|Harm finds yet another excuse to fly a plane.|
|2.04 (26)||Heroes||January 24, 1997||Harm punks Mac in the courtroom.|
|2.05 (27)||Crossing the Line||January 31, 1997||USS Seahawk crossing the Equator||The bald dude from Lost is accused of sexual harasment.|
|2.06 (27)||Trinity||February 7, 1997||Ireland||Harm and Mac bring peace to Northern Ireland.|
|2.07 (28)||Ghosts||February 14, 1997||JAG HQ, civilian courthouse, Chegwidden's residence, hospital||Chegwidden's old. Really old.|
|2.08 (29)||Full Engagement||February 21, 1997||Appalachian Mountains, JAG HQ||Harm and Mac go camping.|
|2.09 (30)||Washington Holiday||February 28, 1997||Willard Hotel and Romanian Embassy in Washington, D.C.; JAG HQ||Harm macs on a Romanian princess.|
|2.10 (31)||The Game of Go||February 28, 1997||American Embassy in Colombia, drug plantation||Harm is still fixing for Cuban cigars, but goes to Cuba for some reason.|
|2.11 (32)||Force Recon||March 7, 1997||Recon training camp||Harm gets yelled at by the Drill Instructor from Full Metal Jacket.|
|2.12 (33)||The Guardian||March 28, 1997||Civilian courtroom, convenience store, church||A Navy SEAL is homeless as draft dodgers occupy the White House for the whole time JAG was on the air.|
|2.13 (34)||Code Blue||April 4, 1997||Mercy Hospital in Washington, D.C.||Israelis and Palestinians in an American hospital. Nothing funny about that.|
|2.14 (35)||Cowboys & Cossacks||April 11, 1997||USS Arleigh Burke, Russian Destroyer Vasiliev, both ships "somewhere in the Black Sea"||Everyone's nostalgic for the Cold War.|
|2.15 (36)||Rendezvous||April 18, 1997||Norfolk Naval Complex||This episode was written by Jerry Springer, and it's about, what else? a love triangle.|
Season 3: 1997-1998 Edit
The episodes of this season also have the voice-over prologue introduced in Season 2.
|Number||Title||Air Date||Locations||Plot Outline|
|3.01 (38)||Ghost Ship||September 23, 1997||The USS Hornet, docked at the Alameda Naval Air Station||After a skeleton is discovered in the hull of a decommissioned Navy carrier, Harm becomes obsessed with discovering a link between the body and his missing father.|
|3.02 (39)||The Court-Martial of Sandra Gilbert||September 30, 1997||Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton||Congresswoman Bobbi Latham sticks her nose where it don't belong.|
|3.03 (40)||The Good of the Service||October 7, 1997||Palmi Christi, Haiti; JAG HQ Courtroom||Harm and Mac must face the Admiral in court when he defends a Marine colonel who disobeyed orders in rescuing his team from a Haitian warlord.|
|3.04 (41)||Blind Side||October 14, 1997||Naval Air Station Fallon||Sarah Silverman briefly joins the Navy.|
|3.05 (42)||King of the Fleas||October 21, 1997||M Street in Washington, D.C., JAG HQ||A paraplegic Vietnam vet comes to JAG HQ to beg for pocket change.|
|3.06 (43)||Vanished||October 28, 1997||USS Coral Sea on the Florida coast, Florida||Harm and Mac play with toy F-14s, and one of them gets lost under the couch.|
|3.07 (44)||Against All Enemies||November 4, 1997||USS Reprisal on international waters close to Japan and Korea||Kim Jong-Il guest-stars in a very special episode.|
|3.08 (45)||Above and Beyond||November 11, 1997||Coronado||Montel Williams inflates his service record, claiming to have been a SEAL.|
|3.09 (46)||Impact||November 18, 1997||Mojave Desert, 29 Palms, Bradenhurst||Bud is hot on the trail of UFOs. Mac leaves JAG to go into Private Practice.|
|3.10 (47)||People v. Rabb||November 25, 1997||Washington, D.C.; a Russian import warehouse; FBI HQ; JAG HQ||Mac gets tired of the whiny doctors on Private Practice and returns to JAG. Predictably, the Admiral didn't send her letter of resignation.|
|3.11 (48)||Defenseless||December 9, 1997||Washington, D.C.; Ensign Lang's apartment; Harm's apartment; JAG HQ||A Navy Ensign kills a Turkish military officer after a misunderstanding at the bath house.|
|3.12 (49)||Someone to watch over Annie||January 6, 1998||Andrews Air Force Base, Baltimore, Pendry's residence, Harm's apartment, JAG HQ||Harm auditions for a musical.|
|3.13 (50)||With Intent to Die||January 13, 1998||Pheasant hunting grounds, JAG HQ||Admiral Chegwidden goes hunting with Dick Cheney and refuses to explain the real reason he got shot.|
|3.14 (51)||Father's Day||February 3, 1998||Fayeteville, North Carolina; JAG HQ||Captain Archer quantum leaps into Harm's body and gets it on with Mac.|
|3.15 (52)||Yesterday's Heroes||February 24, 1998||Miami Beach, Florida; Naples, Florida; JAG HQ||A bunch of old dudes plot to carry out a final mission but fall asleep on their recliner chairs.|
|3.16 (53)||Chains of Command||March 3, 1998||USS Seahawk, JAG HQ||A Chief aboard the USS Seahawk is accused of sexual harassment. He hires a civilian lawyer, Dalton Lowne (Mac's boyfriend) to defend him. The case becomes personal for Mac when Dalton shows up at her apartment to steal confidential information from her.|
|3.17 (54)||The Stalker||March 17, 1998||Washington, D.C.||The Admiral's daughter visits from Italy and he realizes he can't make a good marinara.|
|3.18 (55)||Tiger, Tiger||March 24, 1998||The USS Stockdale (in real life the USS John A Moore) on the Gulf of Mexico||Little American boys learn racial slurs for Cubans.|
|3.19 (56)||Death Watch*||March 31, 1998||Norfolk, Virginia||Harm's mental state becomes questionable when he starts having flashbacks about Lt. Schonke, who was murdered and the case closed when the prime suspect committed suicide. Mac finally learns of the woman who looked just like her.|
|3.20 (57)||The Imposter||April 21, 1998||JAG HQ||Bud gives Harriet a ring.|
|3.21 (58)||The Return of Jimmy Blackhorse||April 28, 1998||Blue Canyon, Arizona; MCAS Yuma; Wellington Bay, New Zealand||Harm and Mac uncover broken treaties the USA made with the Navajo.|
|3.22 (59)||Clipped Wings||May 5, 1998||Dora Tea Valley in the Italian Alps; Naval Air Station, Genoa, Italy||Harm helps ducks migrate.|
|3.23 (60)||Wedding Bell Blues||May 12, 1998||D.C. Jail; the Senator Hotel; JAG HQ||Mac strips at Bud's bachelor party. Just kidding.|
|3.24 (61)||To Russia With Love (1/2)||May 19, 1998||Vorkuta, Siberia; Dulles International Airport; Shermyetevo Airport, Moscow; Posolskaya Hotel, Moscow; Lubyanka Prison, Moscow; Komsomolsky Prospekt, Moscow; United States Embassy, Moscow; Vnukova Military Air Field||Harm receives a picture which suggests that after Vietnam his father was sent to Siberia. Harm requests leave to California, which Chegwidden immediately suspects is really to go to Russia. Chegwidden reluctantly grants the leave and sends Mac along with Harm. After visiting his mother in California, Harm proceeds to Russia, where he is assisted by a taxi driver named Alexei who claims to be loyal only to the highest bidder. In Russia, Harm and Mac once again encounter "Falcon" (Sokol) and Colonel Parlovsky. The trail points to Lubyanka. Harm and Mac steal a MIG-29 to go to Lubyanka, but before they can go far, they are chased and fired upon, and the season closes with a cliffhanger.|
(* NBC cancelled JAG before the first season episode "Skeleton Crew" Part 2 was written, and Part 1 was not broadcast until the first season went into syndication on the USA channel. The third season episode "Death Watch" used much of the footage from this episode but the story's plot was changed and told in flashbacks.)
The eighth season launched NCIS, which in turn launched NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: Las Vegas, NCIS: New York, NCIS: Puerto Rico and NCIS: Guam. Starting with the original NCIS team investigating Harm for murder, each new spinoff's pilot has the new characters investigate the lead character of the old show for murder.