Saturday, March 17, 2007
JAG - The Complete Third Season (CBS, $64.99) brings us third season of this long-running Donald Bellisario classic! This is the show’s 2nd season on CBS--and the first I watched in original broadcast, so I am obviously going to remember it quite fondly. That said there are some episodes from this season I REALLY like. The season starts strong with “Ghost Ship,” in which Harm finds evidence that his father -- MIA from Vietnam -- may be alive and under KGB control in Russia. Harm and Mac investigate the murder of a Navy pilot whose body was found in a decommissioned aircraft carrier. They discover a motive, which involves a lit of MIAs and POWs supposedly still alive and under KGB control – including Harm’s dad. In “The Stalker,” Mac’s ex-boyfriend is gunned down, and Mac has to stay one-step ahead of someone who is determined to get her too. Then there’s “Death Watch.” This episode recycles footage, in flashback form, of the episode “Skeleton Crew,” which never aired in original broadcast due to NBC’s cancellation of the series. The plot was changed, but much of the footage is from the first season episode. Ending season 3 is To Russia with Love, in which Harm & Mac go to Russia to discover the fate of Harm’s father once and for all.
While the shows themselves are good, Paramount still needs to work on the aesthetic side of their releases. I know JAG probably is not a priority release for them, but for a $65 MSRP I expect...something. Menus are still relatively simple, a disappointment. Video quality and audio quality are good. Sound mixes well. Vocals are crisp and clear, music mixes in nicely. Video does look about ten years old, but I have seen similarly aged video on DVD look worse, so props to Paramount for that.
One negative is the text on the back of JAG -- and pretty much every other Paramount release in the last several months, kindly telling us that music may differ from the televised version. Unfortunately, USA Network is currently in season 8 of the show’s run, and won’t be back to season 3 for some time, thus preventing me from checking to see what has been replaced. With most releases, I can look past music replacements, but if I’m paying MSRP for this DVD release -- and let’s be clear, some will -- SIXTY FIVE DOLLARS -- I want original music or a price drop. That sticker is INSANE for that price. SNL Season 1 by NBC Universal stickers for $69.95, but it has EVERY song. Worse still, unlike previous releases, this is a “Plain Jane” release -- no features *I* could find.
I pretty much worship every bit of television Donald Bellisario has put before us in the last 30 years -- JAG is probably third after Quantum Leap and NCIS to me. I WANT this set to do well, obviously - but $65 is INSANE for what you get. Paramount, either put more effort into the set, or drop the sticker. That said, for how much the sticker may be you can order the set at Amazon.com for a bit over $40 -- a 33% saving -- via the link below. Order that way, I recommend. I, however, under NO circumstances recommend this set at MSRP. Purchase this set ONLY at a retailer selling below MSRP.
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher
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