Jag

  • 1994
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Crime, Drama, War

This is the feature pilot for a TV series notable for merging two pop-culture fads: high-tech service dramas (TOP GUN and quick-cancelled network fare like "Call to Glory" and "Supercarrier") and the legal-thriller genre, present since the days of "Perry Mason," but exceptionally hot in the 1990s. On the aircraft carrier Seahawk in the Adriatic, Lt. Angela...read more

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This is the feature pilot for a TV series notable for merging two pop-culture fads: high-tech service dramas (TOP GUN and quick-cancelled network fare like "Call to Glory" and "Supercarrier") and the legal-thriller genre, present since the days of "Perry Mason," but exceptionally hot in

the 1990s.

On the aircraft carrier Seahawk in the Adriatic, Lt. Angela Arutti (Katie Rich) touches down a national hero after a victorious dogfight with Serbian MIGs over Bosnia. But in fact the enemy planes were shot down by her commanding officer, Capt. Thomas Cag Boone (Terry O'Quinn), who wants Arutti to

get the credit in order to improve attitudes toward women in the armed forces. Arutti, wracked by doubts over her courage under fire, types her resignation, trysts that night with a mystery lover on the flight deck, and is deliberately shoved off the ship by a shadowy assailant. To investigate

whether her disappearance is suicide or foul play, Washington sends two J.A.G. (Judge Advocate General) Navy lawyers, Lt. Harmon Rabb Jr. (David James Elliott) and Lt. Kate Pike (Andrea Parker) to the Seahawk. Lt. Rabb's presence carries plenty of baggage; he had to leave active service because

his impaired vision led to a crash landing that killed his co-pilot, and "Cag" was his MIA father's wing man in Vietnam. When fishermen find Arutti's body, the evidence points to murder. Ultimately, Lt. Rabb is able to pull off the considerable feat of redeeming himself in battle (landing a

wounded Cag safely after a nocturnal strafing run on the Serbs) while simultaneously cracking the Arutti case--she was killed by a grudge-holding male officer who mistook her in the dark for another female flyer.

JAG does not open promisingly. If the thick soldierly jargon doesn't get to you (only one term--"stay on my six"--is defined), then the aggressive posturing of the Seahawk's co-ed crew will, recalling the macho stereotypes of TOP GUN at their most juvenile. But the Arutti murder comes as a real

shock; that the affair turns out to be a far simpler crime than the shipwide conspiracy first suspected is also a surprise, and makes an effective launch for all the melodrama. Too bad that what the characters are talking about is often much more intelligent than the way they say it; the dialogue

overflows with double-entendres to reflect the growing attraction between Rabb and Pike. References to the Balkan civil war and real-life Navy sex scandals strive to endow JAG with verisimilitude, but Lt. Rabb's contrived personal problems and tormented flashbacks are exactly the sort of

service-drama cliches burlesqued in the popular satire HOT SHOTS! (1991) and it's all hard to take despite yeoman work by the cast. Aficianados of the action game show "American Gladiators" should recognize body builder Raye Hollitt as Arutti's weightlifter roommate. She's a special effect equal

to the cool computer graphics in the aerial scenes, but the climactic mission is marred by what sounds like a high school marching band fanfare on the soundtrack.

JAG also had a rough flight as a network series, with Lt. Rabb investigating military-related mysteries around the world on a weekly basis. The expensive program, from the creators of "Magnum P.I." and "Quantum Leap," started out on NBC but ran into low-ratings turbulence. Dropped from the

network's lineup, the show was later picked up by CBS, concurrent with the pilot movie's debut on home video in 1996. (Violence, adult situations.)

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  • Released: 1994
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This is the feature pilot for a TV series notable for merging two pop-culture fads: high-tech service dramas (TOP GUN and quick-cancelled network fare like "Call to Glory" and "Supercarrier") and the legal-thriller genre, present since the days of "Perry M… (more)

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