Mill Creek Entertainment // 1991 // 1073 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 16th, 2010
In a small town, crime is a big deal.
Mill Creek Entertainment continues its rollout of TV season re-releases with the show that put Michael Chiklis on the small screen map. All 21 episodes of The Commish: Season One are accounted for, tied together in the same low-grade packaging and mediocre technical treatment I've come to expect -- with one huge positive. More on that later.
Chiklis (The Shield) is Tony Scali, a former Brooklyn cop who now serves as the police commissioner for a small town. Portly, amiable, and compassionate, Commissioner Scali has earned the widespread respect of his men and his community. Episodes deal with the various challenges Scali (decent, but blunt) faces, in the department, on the streets, and within his own family. Whether it's a budget crisis that means no First Aid kits for the squad car, an overzealous prone-to-violence officer, or the incessant tangle of small-town politics, Scali is up to the task, employing his wit, competence, and folksy New York City accent to take care of business.
Are there two characters (played by the same actor) that exist on such opposite poles as Tony Scali and Vic Mackey? I know it's been pointed out before, but with this being my first encounter with The Commish, and The Shield being one in my top five TV shows of all time, the contrast really punched me in the face. Chiklis's Scali is pretty much the goodest of the good guy, and really seems more like a jovial cartoon character than a flesh and blood character. Mackey? The opposite: cruel, crooked, and self-obsessed. If Mackey is a shark, Scali is a clownfish.
But Chiklis is great in both roles, a testament to his skill as an actor. He is believable as both a corrupt crime-fighter and lovable police commissioner. In The Commish, the guy is hugely likable, pushing the good guy schtick about as far as it can go before it gets grating. It also helps that uber-producer and series creator Stephen J. Cannell surrounded Chiklis with interesting characters and stories that served their unique creation well.
About the set. As noted, Mill Creek's release is no-frills, the four discs sitting in paper sleeves and stacked on top of each other in a thick, clumsy case. The full frame, 2.0 stereo mix is serviceable at best and the only extras are a pair of interviews with Chiklis and Cannell. It's not a mind-blowing re-release, but it is cheap. Wicked cheap. At the time of this writing, Amazon has it for $6.99. The original release retails for $44.99. Hard to argue with that value.
Not Guilty. The series has some charm and, while the set isn't anything to
exclaim about, the cost effectiveness is a major plus.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 1073 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Not Rated