Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Flash back to 1995- NBC picked up a military drama that they hoped would expand their success with Law and Order by mashing a courtroom drama with high adventure- Law and Order meets Top Gun. JAG followed the exploits of Harmon Rabb who heroically defended or prosecuted Navy cases while also solving crimes and traveling the world. It seemed like a sure ratings winner.

Unfortunately, NBC couldn't seem to make the show work. Moving the show around its schedule throughout the 1995-96 season, NBC didn't really help matters. Show producers saw the writing on the wall and chose to end the season with a cliffhanger featuring the lovely Catherine Bell as a guest star who gets murdered. By the end of the episode it is revealed that the best suspect was Harmon Rabb himself. As suspected, NBC canceled the show, leaving the show's small fan base hanging. It appeared that they would never find out if Commander Rabb was able to clear his name.

Enter CBS. The network was struggling in the mid 1990's and was looking for some new programming that could turn things around. A few people at the network loved JAG and felt that the show was just what the network needed. When the show became available, CBS pounced on it, but wanted a few small changes, one of which was to pair the sexy Catherine Bell with star David James Elliott, who proved to have great chemistry onscreen. Since Ms. Bell had played a character who was murdered in the season one finale, how would they explain her appearance as a JAG lawyer in season two? 

The problem proved to be insurmountable. It would be ridiculous to have Ms. Bell appear as a lawyer assisting in the case of the murder of a woman who looked just like her, so the show did the only thing they could think of- they pretended that the previous year's finale didn't happen. The episode was removed from syndication and was eventually re-edited as part of a different episode where Commander Rabb tells the story of a past case he worked that concerned a woman who looked like his current co-worker. Despite the show's failure on NBC, a steady schedule on CBS made all the difference. The show became a hit, running for ten years and spawning the wildly successful NCIS spinoffs.