First Monday and JAG

First Monday (2002)
JAG (1995-2005)
Type: Crossover
Group 31

   JAG survived one network's cancellation and go on to thrive. First Monday was not so lucky but one character on that show did manage to escape cancellation death and snag onto JAG.

   JAG stands for Judge Advocate General. JAG the show, created by TV demi-god Don Bellisario, was a military justice spin on the usual legal drama. JAG is one of those shows that got off to a rocky start and then after seeming doomed to a quick cancellation just took off as a hit show. It started over on NBC where it did so incredibly well that NBC canned it after one season. But one network's trash is another network's treasure. CBS swooped on in, saved the show and quickly turned it into a sleeper hit that just keeps going and going and going. See NBC, you should've stuck with JAG like you did with Law And Order. But nooooo.

   Well, in 2002 NBC tried yet another legal drama with a different twist. This time around First Monday would look at the legal system from the point of view of the U.S. Supreme Court. Once again, the man to bring this show to TV was producer Don Bellisario. Not only did the show have strong people behind the scenes, it also had strong people in front of the cameras as well. The cast included heavyweights like James Garner and Joe Mantegna. But just like with JAG, the show had a short run on NBC before they cancelled it. In this case though the problem likely was that though before First Monday started airing in the middle of the 2001-2002 season there hadn't been a Supreme Court drama, when it hit the air it was one of TWO Supreme Court dramas premiering at almost the exact same time. At the same time ABC was beginning to air The Court, also with a strong cast including Sally Field. Maybe one Supreme Court show could have caught America's attention but two? I think most people chose to ignore them both. They both were quickly cancelled. And even though CBS saved JAG, I'm thinking they wanted to stay out of the whole Supreme Court cancellation debacle. There was no save this time. Or was there?

   One regular supporting character on First Monday was Senator Edward Sheffield played by Dean Stockwell. The very next season after the cancellation of First Monday, just like JAG, Senator Sheffield bopped on over to CBS and appeared in that show's 8th season premiere. That episode found the Secretary Of The Navy being called on the carpet for his handling certain matters. By the fourth episode of the season, Senator Sheffield had become the new Secretary Of The Navy. In other words, he went from being a supporting player on First Monday to a supporting player on JAG. The fact that they would salvage Dean Stockwell's character isn't too surprising considering both shows are Bellissario productions and Stockwell has worked with Bellisario since his days on Quantum Leap. I like him. I say keep him working.

   It should be noted that in addition to Senator Sheffield, both shows also made use of the same fictional cable channel - ZNN, a nice soundalike for CNN. It wouldn't surprise me if more Bellisario shows end up being linked via this ZNN. Of course ZBS will likely be home to JAG for some time and NBZ can just regret canceling it.

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