JAG's unnerving trend

In the latest episode of JAG (Justice Advocate General, not a sports car or anything), I saw the ordeal of a news reporter who actually received a court-martial for violating an order of the commanding officer of a group he was with. He was prohibited from sending out any transmissions, but he nonetheless spent three minutes on one, which he claimed was necessary for the broadcast (and claiming that there’s no way a shoestring group like the Taliban could have the technology to intercept it). Well, it turns out that he’s clean; the real guilty party was his assistant at the studio, an Iranian sympathizer. But…here’s the weird part…he pleads guilty anyway, claiming that his actions were totally, totally wrong, and that he was completely wrong in his assessment of the brave men and women of etc. etc.

Leaving aside the utter ridiculousness of this fall-on-his-sword ending, does anyone find it more than mildly unsettling how unabashedly pro-military JAG has gotten? They even mentioned a well-publicized atrocity of the American military, the overthrow of the democratically elected Mussadegh of Iran, and, like all the other times, glossed over it like it didn’t even matter. (I’ve seen the same done with supplying weapons to Iraq, the accidental killing of skiers by an American jet, and the sinking of the Ehime Maru; I’m sure there were others.) This reporter, I might add, saved the life of one of the soldiers involved in the attack, yet somehow the complete self-flagellation was still necessary.

I think CBS is doing a pretty big disservice by not only laughing off the many very real wrongs our military has done (not to mention the ones commanding them), but by systematically ridiculing anyone who refuses to do the same. Look, I know Harm’s always had outstanding character, and Mac has overcome tremendous adversity, and the JAG office in general has done a terrific job. That should not excuse the actions of the less honorable within the ranks. And the last thing I need is some TV drama trying to tell me what my opinion of the armed forces should be.

Why is this happening? When did CBS adopt such a pro-military stance? (Don’t forget AFP, too.) This outfit has never struck me as especially patriotic…well, at least not any more than the other two of the Big Three.

Gee, after decades of having to watch every military person on TV be depicted as being stupid, dull, sadistic, or a clown, the people who defend the country get ONE show that depicts them in a positive light, and you think it’s a scandal?

For what it’s worth, I loved that episode, and I liked the moral at the end. You may have noticed that, while the reporter admitted his guilt he raised his stature immensely in the eyes of the military people. Who place a lot of value in taking responsibility for one’s actions. The guy WAS guilty. He violated a direct order, and in so doing endangered a mission. He would have been just as guilty if nothing had come out of it and the mission had been a success. But by standing up and admitting his guilt, he accepted his responsibility and the military decided to let him off with a slap. If he had stood on his ‘rights’ and refused to admit his guilt, he would have been breaking rocks for a year or two.

As for the ‘militaristic’ tone, I thought they set an extremely accurate and realistic tone. The military is made up of a lot of different people - Democrats, Republicans, Druids. They aren’t all a bunch of Boys from Brazil. The same arguments about whether the 1st Amendment rights conflict with military missions are debated within the military as well as without. That was reflected on the show. I suspect that depiction just doesn’t match YOUR perception of what the military is.


No, he wasn’t clean. They never accused him of being a spy or a traitor. They accused him of violating orders by broadcasting. Of that he was clearly guilty.


Why should anyone find it mildly unsettling that JAG is unabashedly pro-military? JAG has been unabashedly pro-military since the pilot movie aired on NBC.


The reporter plead guilty because he was guilty of what he’d been charged with. As I recall he received a suspended sentence.


I’ve never observed them to “laugh” off any of the real wrongs of the military.

Well JAG started out on NBC and even then it was pro-military. I guess it is a nice change of pace from some of the typical depictions of the men and women of the armed forces. If you don’t like it you can always watch reruns of MASH and Gomer Pyle.


One thing that JAG seems to like to bring up is that military personnel do not have all of the civil rights that they are sworn to protect. In the OP’s episode, the reporter found that out and also found out that he was “in the Navy” when his request to join the mission was granted. Who knew civilians could be court martialed? I thought that raising that issue was the best thing about that episode. In an earlier episode, a Naval officer publicly made disparaging remarks about the president (Clinton, at the time). Since I’ve been around the military all of my life, I knew that military personnel were prohibited of voicing their opinion about the Commander in Chief; but I’ll wager most people didn’t know that.

JAG also brings up topical issues that don’t have to do with civil rights, dealing with world terrorism, the war in Bosnia, the war in Chechnya, etc. And then there are the old standbys of rape, murder, theft, drunkenness, etc. It’s not the best show on teevee, but I like helicopters and other flying things, and ships. Catherine Bell is nice too look at too.

Other thoughts: How is Patrick Labyorteaux’s name pronounced? “Lab-your-toe”? He sure looks different from when he was a little kid on Little House on the Prairie. They’ve made Adm. Chegwidden the “Lonely Commander”. It looks like their trying to “hook him up” (a recurring theme). Good idea to have him get serious with a woman, or not? Obviously Harm and Mac are made for each other. How long do you think it will be before they realize it?

Good Grief. It’s a fricking TV show, any resemblence to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. The military and the good people who inhabit same – far different than Hollywood or the press would have you believe. After joining the Army (twice) and as a civilian yet again I’m convinced it’s the civilian community who is ‘brainwashed’, not the military.

Gawd…I believe this is the first time I’ve ever had to do the inevitable no-you-misunderstood post this early. (If you think my OP’s are long, imagine what they’d look like if I covered every possible misunderstanding in them.)

I don’t have any beef with our nation’s armed forces or the brave folks who voluntarily serve in them. (I do have serious issues with some of the guys calling the shots, but that’s another post.) And I don’t have any problems with the servicemen and -women in JAG. On the contrary, almost without exception, they’re extremely admirable in what they do. (Harm, in particular, is just amazing; he’s James Bond, Chuck Norris, Perry Mason, and a helluva pilot rolled into one.) But I want to see their issues and their perspectives, not some sugarcoated take on the military’s many real-life atrocities. It does do a great disservice to the people affected by these atrocities to pretend that they don’t matter (or worse, they do matter, but we’re not under any obligation to do anything about it). Have you seen anyone in that office so much as address a single one of these?

What’s the point of reopening old wounds, anyway? If CBS really wanted to put a positive spin on the armed forces, the logical thing to do would be to avoid mentioning any of these wrongdoings (hey, if our history books can do this, a major TV network shouldn’t break a sweat).

C’mon, let’s see Harm whupping a defense attorney in court (or some assailant well away from court). Let’s see Sturgis continue searching for his place in JAG, or even enter a friendly competition with Harm. Let’s see Mac…oh, I dunno, regain her assertiveness in the workplace and decide whether or not she actually wants a man? Let’s see the admiral…heck, anytime, anywhere; he’s always fun to watch. It’s their controversies, problems, and moral ambiguities I’m interested in, not real-life wrongdoings which are inexcusable no matter what.

This used to be one of my favorite shows, I might add. I’ll still watch, but it’s definitely slipped.

(Looking back on that ending…okay, I can see how pleading guilty would’ve been in his best interests. But the way it was handled was so cheesy, I almost couldn’t believe what I saw. He sounded like he’d “seen the light”, for crying out loud. It’d be far more believable…not to mention watchable…if he made his declaration plainly, with no embellishments, and just wanted the whole experience over with.)

They have both realized it. There is just a little bit of a problem with the UCMJ prohibiting anything happening between them.

Why is that? They’re both officers. Neither is in a supervisory position over the other. Bud and Harriet are married. Mac almost married another JAG lawyer; and a foreign national, at that.

What UCMJ reg would prevent Harm and Mac from persuing a relationship?

AFAIK, the only one that could possibly be applied is conduct unbecoming. And you’d have a real hard time applying it. You’re right, Johnny, there is no senior/subordinate relationship, and they’re both single. No violation.

Personally, I think the show’s great. It’s at its weakest when I see Harm flying… it’s just too ridiculous for me to take seriously. But I love the issues they tackle… friendships strained because of facing each other in the courtroom, current-events like the war on terrorism and U.S. servicewomen in the middle east among others. A lot of the cases are pretty interesting. And I think they’ve handled the romance (or lack thereof) between Mac and Harm very well, although I do wish they’d get on with it.

From Paramount’s JAG website:

But TV shows where the two main characters give in to their longstanding attraction disintegrate soon afterward!

Okay, then; when will Paramount realize that it will never work out if they want their show to continue, and send Catherine Bell over to have a relationship with me? :smiley: :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah, Bud and Harriet are married, but she is not posted in JAG, she had to transfer out when they got married. The Admiral then borrowed her from her new post to work in the JAG office. I don’t even know if that is possible in the military, but it was obviously done to keep from losing the character.

Mac was not going to marry another JAG lawyer. The fact that he was a foreign national and not in the US Navy, and not in any military at the time they were getting married, means there was no conflict.

But Harm is her superior officer, even though they do not have the same kind of chain of command as a ship would. She has to obey his orders, just like Bud and Harriet do.


Aw, I was hoping the next reply would answer my last post by saying, “Now that would be unnerving!” :smiley: Oh, well…

I thought that Mac and Harm are the same rank. Mac is a Lt. Colonel and Harm is a Commander. Both O-5s.

Maybe during sweeps.

People interested in discussing every possible (or impossible) relationship among JAG characters should visit the Jag Asylum, where there are plenty of like-minded Jagnuts (no matter what your mind is like).

There is also a wealth of JAG fan fiction for those who don’t think that the relationship between Mac and Harm, or Mac and Mic, or Mac and the Admiral or just about any other relationship has been fully explored on the show.

I personally have given up the show for reasons related to the OP. While Donald Bellisario (creator of JAG, along with Magnum, P.I. and Quantum Leap) has always included the military in his shows, this season in particular JAG seems to have become more hawkish than usual. Obviously there has been a trend toward glorification of the military since September 11, and JAG was an easy show to move in that direction. While I admire JAG for its portrayal of the dedication of military personnel, I found the last few episodes I watched to be too preachy and political. I have a similar problem with The West Wing on occasion. I want to be watching a show about the interactions among political (or military) workers, not a show that tries to tell me how I should feel about current events.

My biggest beef with JAG, however, is the near saint-like and superhuman Harm. He has become almost a Deus Ex Machina unto himself – no matter what the problem, we know that in the final reel Harm will ride to the rescue and save the world.


Well in that case, she is actually senior to him, since she made Lt. Colonel before he made Commander.


Lok, where do you get that Harm is a superior of Mac’s? My impression is that the only boss either of them have is the Admiral.

And, as far as seniority goes, it doesn’t matter that her date of rank is earlier than Harm’s. They’re the same rank. The unwritten rule I’ve seen when dealing with fellow officers who’ve made a rank higher than mine is that if I knew them and was on a first-name basis with them before they made rank, then I’m still going to call him by his first name even though he’s a rank higher than me. The point being that such slight shifts in seniority are meaningless in the military (amongst friends), providing there is no new senior/suboridinate relationship imposed by the change in rank.

The only real problem I have with it is Harm’s dual career as a fighter pilot and lawyer, and a hotshot at both. I really doubt the Navy would waste resources, and risk aircraft, by letting a lawyer back in the cockpit, after a flight-career-ending injury, just to fart around the sky a little bit once in a while - and then land on a carrier.

The rest is just television. And I am so glad they finally found Catherine Bell, after a few other useless bimbos.