JAG TV Series Overview (1995-2005)


Introduction

JAG is an American legal drama television series with a US Navy theme, created by Donald P. Bellisario, and produced by Belisarius Productions in association with Paramount Network Television (now CBS Television Studios).

The series was originally aired on NBC for one season from 23 September 1995, to 22 May 1996, and then on CBS for an additional nine seasons from 03 January 1997 to 29 April 2005.

The first season was co-produced with NBC Productions (now Universal Television) and was originally perceived as a Top Gun meets A Few Good Men hybrid series.

In the spring of 1996, NBC announced that the series had been cancelled after finishing 79th in the ratings, leaving one episode unaired. In December 1996, the rival network CBS announced it had picked up the series as a mid-season replacement and aired 15 new episodes as its second season. For several seasons, JAG climbed in the ratings and ultimately ran for nine additional seasons. JAG furthermore spawned the hit series NCIS, which in turn led to spin-offs NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans.

In total, 227 episodes were produced over 10 seasons. At the time of the original airing of its fifth season in the United States, JAG was seen in over 90 countries worldwide. JAG entered syndication in early 1999.

Outline

The series follows the exploits of the Washington metropolitan area–based “judge advocates” (i.e. uniformed lawyers) in the Department of the Navy’s Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG), who in the line of duty can prosecute and defend criminal cases under the jurisdiction of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (arising from the global presence of the US Navy and the US Marine Corps), conduct informal and formal investigations, and advise on military operational law.

Akin to Law & Order, the plots from many episodes were often “ripped from the headlines” with portions of the plot either resembling or referencing recognisable aspects of actual cases or incidents, such as the USS Cole bombing (“Act of Terror” and “Valour”), the rescue of downed pilot Scott O’Grady (“Defensive Action”), the Cavalese cable car disaster (“Clipped Wings”), the USS Iowa turret explosion (“Into the Breech”), and the Kelly Flinn incident (“The Court-Martial of Sandra Gilbert”).

While not part of the mission of its real-world counterpart, some of the main characters are at times also involved, directly and indirectly, in various CIA intelligence operations, often revolving around the recurring character CIA officer Clayton Webb (played by Steven Culp).

What is JAG?

The Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG Corps) is the branch or specialty of a military concerned with military justice and military law. Officers serving in a JAG Corps are typically called judge advocates. Only the chief attorney within each branch is referred to as the Judge Advocate General; however, individual JAG Corps officers are colloquially known as JAG’s.

Judge Advocates serve primarily as legal advisors to the command to which they are assigned. In this function, they can also serve as the personal legal advisor to their commander. Their advice may cover a wide range of issues dealing with administrative law, government contracting, civilian and military personnel law, law of war and international relations, environmental law, etc. They also serve as prosecutors for the military when conducting courts-martial. In the United States military, they are charged with both the defence and prosecution of military law as provided in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Highly experienced officers of the JAG Corps often serve as military judges in courts-martial and courts of inquiry.

Trivia

  • The creator of JAG, Donald P. Bellisario, served for four years in the US Marine Corps, and after having worked his way up through advertising jobs, he landed his first network television job as a story editor for the World War II-era series Baa Baa Black Sheep.

JAG Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Creator(s): Donald P. Bellasario.
  • Producer(s): Donald P. Bellasario, Chas. Floyd Johnson, Howard Kazanijan, David Bellasario, Stephen Zito, R. Scott Gemmill, and Chip Vucelich.
  • Music: Bruce Broughton, Steven Bramson, and Velton Ray Bunch.
  • Cinematography: Hugo Cortina, David J. Miller, and Larry Lindsey.
  • Production: Paramount Network Television, Belasarius Productions, and NBC Productions.
  • Distributor(s): Paramount Domestic Television and CBS Television Distribution.
  • Release Date: 23 September 1995 to 29 April 2005.
  • Running Time: 42-47 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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