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For Christmas, my husband received DVDs of two seasons of JAG. I remembered that the show had premiered on NBC in 1995 and was cancelled after one season. CBS picked it up and began airing it as a midseason replacement in January 1997.

That got me thinking: What if NBC hadn't cancelled JAG? After moving to CBS the ratings picked up and, though it was never a huge hit, it had respectable numbers. More significantly, JAG's spin-off, NCIS, now in its 11th season,is the most watched scripted show on TV, regularly pulling in 20 million viewers. NCIS's own spin-off, NCIS: Los Angeles, is an unqualified hit, and another spin-off is in the works.

How different would the TV landscape be if NBC had given JAG another chance? Would NBC be the number one network instead of CBS? Would it at least be doing better than Univision on a regular basis? What do you think? Can you think of any other near misses that might have changed television as we know it today?
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JAG would likely not have lasted as long. It never really was an NBC show. NCIS likely would have come along, just not as a JAG spin-off. Each network tries to market to a specific audience, and CBS has the most conservative, older audience. NBC has tried to go after a younger, more liberal audience. JAG just wasn't going to work on NBC. In fact the reason NBC is in trouble now is that it targets the audience least likely to watch traditional TV.

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Well I'm glad that CBS picked it up! Don't know what I would for if there was no JAG or NCIS
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I keep making the joke because it is still funny (to me at least). NBC = Chicago Fire (does ok...so) Chicago PD, Chicago LPN, Chicago CPA, Chicago RSVP, Chicago STD


Kudos on The Blacklist. Love the show and it is more than just scenery chewing by Spader. Pretty cool mythology developing. But all the copycat, baby seal beating to death shows they do... not the network for originality. That being said, really CBS? What is this. NCIS: Akron?
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Well, this could end-up like an episode of Fringe. Over there.
OK, now I feel like rewatching JAG and Fringe all over again. :)
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Fringe?!?! Damn you! Now I have to get a Walter fix.
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Easy, if NBC had a chance for NCIS they would have cancelled it after one season and still be shit
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If NBC hadn't cancelled JAG I would still have a good show to watch along with both NCIS &NCIS :LA. networks for once should consider the viewer not some lame brain trying to come up with the next best thing. There is a simple rule in life and that is "If it ain't broke don't fix it or replace it". And I know that shows come to an end but replace it with something better I don't want to see reality shows or anything like that I would like to be amused not driven to insanity.
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I'd always thought the role of Charlotte Charles in Pushing Daisies had been created with Zooey Deschanel in mind, but back then in 2007 she was doing television, and they went with an actress unknown in the US, Anna Friel. While I can't think of anybody else as Ned, and I quickly fell in love with Anna Friel in that role, I imagine Zooey would have made Pushing Daisies last longer because she has such a great fanbase in the US.

By the way, all this talk reminds me of Fringe's parallel universe, in which 1985 movie theaters showed "Back to The Future, starring Eric Stoltz."
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One thing I completely forgot, without NCIS what would USA exist? Haven't looked, but I'm betting there will be an NCIS New Years marathon.
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If not NCIS, then SVU.
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I think JAG was a much better show. NCIS has so little to do with JAG, that I believe CBS would've created it or something like it with JAG or no JAG. JAG was a smart show with an original premise, an interesting twist in the old lawyer shows. So in a way it was a typical NBC-at-its-best show (creative, with modest ratings). NCIS, o the other hand, is a typical CBS show, a great hit, good guys fighting bad guys like many Americans still seem to prefer. Lots of bantering among the characters, cool attitudes, adventure, and action. Something easier to digest.

Anyway, now knowing that JAG was originally in NBC things make much more sense now and I get why both shows were so different.
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NBC does this with a ton of their shows. Cancel them early. They really haven't had a long running drama since The West Wing. They do well with some comedies, but they seem to bail early on dramas.
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Obviously Law and Order is the Exception to this, but anything really new is what I'm talking about.
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In the scenario I am imagining, NBC and Belasarius would have retooled the show the same way they did at CBS in order to attract a bigger audience then they had. And in that scenario I don't see NCIS being developed as a spin-off. Mostly because that was about the time NBC started bailing on shows rather than giving them a chance to find an audience (ala Seinfeld and Cheers, which ended their runs far more popular than they ever started) And NBC gave up on a lot of shows that may have developed into something long term. And if they had more shows they wouldn't have necessarily gone looking for a spin-off of JAG at the end of its run, so no NCIS. Which would have been a shame for me as I have watched every episode of NCIS, multiple times, but had stopped watching JAG a season or two before it was finally done. I had to go back and see the backdoor pilot years later.

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I loved the serous even though i have only watched all 10 season i would have loved for it to have a few more season and to find out what happend to captain Rap and the col
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There's so many variables to networks' and their programming decisions, it's hard to tell how it would have turned out had they kept JAG. I do know that these highs and lows happen in cycles; believe it or not, NBC will be a number-one network again, and CBS will lose its top-spot dominance.
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Maybe if the networks didnt bounce around the shows trying to find an equal footing time slot they wouldnt lose the viewers that they have been. people are fed up trying to find the shows they like to watch. the biggest error in all networks is thinking that everyone goes out for drinks and dinner or movies on saturdays after working all week. its not the case millions are at home watching the rented movie they got because there was nothing but garbage on tv including our favorite cable or satelite channel. Jag was one of the good shows NBC got rid of thinking they could move onto some drama or comedy that they felt could replace it. And what ever they did replace it with tanked as well.
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I think NBC regrets it just as much as they did when they cancelled Baywatch. But when JAG moved to CBS it was no longer the same show, but they made a few changes like giving Harmon Rabb a new partner and made Bud Roberts a regular. Who knows if it could have lasted as long as it did or if NCIS would have been conceived.
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This was one of my dad's favorite shows (former Navy) and as the first season is streaming on Amazon we watched about 3 episodes the other day. As I watched the pilot episode I had a similar thought. NBC dominated the air for a decade and its decline began about the time they let JAG go to CBS. I doubt one show could have prevented the decline but it is fun to specualate.

I amazes me just how much action was in the show as it was basically a weekly advertisement for the Navy and I have to think that cost played a big part in the cancellation.

The ironic thing is NBC could have easily done what CBS did but they already had two legal procedurals and weren't interested in transforming it into Law & Order - Navy. I remember being very disappointed that it went off the air as it had all the makings of a solid show. I watched JAG when it reappearred on CBS and watch NCIS to this day.

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How about this:
If NBC had renewed JAG for one more season then Fox and ABC would be the leading networks. Would CBS have picked up a show that failed on a rival network for 2 Seasons? I don't think they would have, which means no NCIS or it's (awful) spin-off and maybe CSI and Criminal Minds aren't quite as popular as a result - I suspect that the same audience watches each of the shows, if they weren't turning up for JAG then maybe they don't turn up for CSI then they don't turn up for the no longer in existence NCIS then maybe they don't turn up for Criminal Minds either? Lots of "maybes" but each show helped to shape the procedural nature of the next. I suspect that CSI would still be a hit, but maybe not quite as big, so maybe it's not big enough for it's own spin-offs? This would could have seriously crippled CBS's viewing figures.
Obviously NBC was going to tank regardless of JAG getting a second season or not and even if it did get a second season JAG would still have been cancelled after that - it's wasn't very good before CBS salvaged it.
All of which leaves a bit of a void for ABC and Fox to fight it out.
Or not.
More+
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Wait. Did you call NCIS:LA Awful?? You're clearly slow in the head if that's the case.
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well, I don't think it would have been that much of an hit if it had stAayed on NBC. CBS didn't just picked up a show previously aired on another network; it basically transformed it. Back then, when it was airing on Italian Television- and it still does- I remember watching the season 2 premiere and think that it was a completely new thing. Yes, part of the cast was there, but the whole feel was different. It wasn't a "top gun pilot is also a lawyer and runs across the world and spends his time looking at planes because he can't fly any longer but he really wants to, and yeah, there is also a dead ex in the picture he wanted to get back with." it was a procedural of people who happened to work for the navy. and also happened to have lives. If NBC had kept the show up... well, I doubt it would have lasted as long as it did, nor that it would have gave birth to two shows as successfull as NCIS and NCIS:LA.
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NBC's JAG and CBS's JAG were two very different shows. NBC wanted what they often referred to as "A Few Good Men" meets "Top Gun." It was actually a rather strange show where each week a pair of Navy Lawyers went around the country basically playing with military hardware.

When the show moved to CBS it still had an action component but the emphasis was more on being a legal drama, which was much more plausable.
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I can only think of actors near misses:
  • What would've been of Lena Heady's Cersei Lannister if Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles wouldn't have been cancelled?
  • Who would've played awesome Maggie Greene on The Walking Dead if Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries wouldn't have killed off Lauren Cohan's characters?!
  • Would Finch be even half as awesome if Lost would've ended a couple of seasons too late for Michael Emerson to play the character?
  • There wouldn't even be an Elementary today if Eli Stone and Dirty Sexy Money would still be up and running!
  • Or Ichabod Crane of Potty Perowne would be a regular part in Parade's End series instead of a miniseries.
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Eli Stone was aaaawesome! RIP :(
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FOX - shelving Firefly and airing more than one season of The Following!
(Not in close order but talking about to wrongs not making it right...)

Let's hope Almost Human will hold for almost two seasons, at least.
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That was a HUGE mistake letting Firefly go like that.
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And I think Fox shouldn't have cancelled Dark Angel to start showing Firefly... Which got cancelled even quicker.
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