Case Number 15890: Small Claims Court


Paramount // 1996 // 1072 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dan Mancini (Retired) // March 11th, 2009

The Charge

"You bad guys make me tired." -- Nash Bridges, "25 Hours of Christmas"

The Case

Nash Bridges is a lot like Law & Order if the cops on Law & Order drove cherry muscle cars and there wasn't much need for lawyers or judges because most of the criminals were shot (bloodlessly) before the end credits. Put simply, Nash Bridges is a good old-fashioned cop show that makes up for its complete lack of moral ambiguity and its total disregard for niceties like the Miranda warning with car chases, gunfights, and plenty of humorous banter between its leads. The show is about the adventures of Inspector Nash Bridges (Don Johnson, Miami Vice) and his partner Joe Dominguez (Cheech Marin, Up in Smoke), senior members of the San Francisco Police Department's Special Investigations Unit. The SIU is a team of crack cops who work cases involving murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping, bank heists, mafia hits, counterfeiting, and just about any other kind of mayhem you might imagine. Other team members include the young and pompadoured Evan Cortez (Jaime Gomez, Training Day), beret-wearing Deadhead Harvey Leek (Jeff Perry, Wild Things), Inspector Bryn Carson (Mary Mara, Bound), and Lieutenant A.J. Shimamura (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, The Last Emperor). When not fighting crime, Nash carries on a mostly amiable relationship with his ex-wife Lisa (Annette O'Toole, Smallville), tries to provide a stable male role model for his teenage daughter Cassidy (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Prison Break), and struggles to care for his gruff and hard-headed Alzheimer's stricken father Nick (James Gammon, Major League).

The second season of Nash Bridges isn't much different than its first. Executive producer Carlton Cuse (Lost) and his team hadn't entirely found their groove (that wouldn't happen until later seasons when first Kelly Hu and then Yasmine Bleeth joined the cast as feisty female inspectors who challenge Nash both personally and professionally), but the episodes are still a lot of fun. Highlights of the season include Nash hunting the Bay Area's never-apprehended Zodiac killer ("Zodiac"), a light-hearted Christmas romp in which Nash's Plymouth Barracuda is stolen ("25 Hours of Christmas"), and a rousing actioner (featuring a guest starring turn by Barry Bonds) in which Nash and Joe square off with a crew of well-armed and well-trained bank robbers ("Wrecking Crew"). In addition to the crime plots, the show offers up a healthy serving of light comedy such as Joe accidentally eating a cake Lisa baked to submit to a contest with a $500,000 prize ("'Til Death Do Us Part"), and Nick's tormenting of his hulking but emotionally fragile day nurse Lyle (Eric Allan Kramer, Robin Hood: Men in Tights) ("Leo's Big Score").

As network television shows go, Nash Bridges' action sequences are impressive, which is to say they're always competent and occasionally compelling. The car chases play the best. They're well-choreographed, and the San Francisco exteriors as well as Bridges' 'Cuda are easy on the eyes. Shootouts aren't as kinetic, but even the poorest of them entertains because Nash, Joe, and the other SIU cops never hesitate to throw down with bad guys in crowded public places. If real cops behaved the way Nash and his cohorts do, the world would truly be as frightening as the fear-mongers on the evening news make it out to be. The implausibility of cops regularly killing crooks in corner book shops or neighborhood convenience stores is forgivable because Nash Bridges wears its status as escapist entertainment on its sleeve. While fun, the chases and shootouts aren't even the most appealing aspect of the show. Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, and the rest of the cast elevate the formulaic writing and make the series more fun than it ought to be. Johnson's easy-going charm as Bridges (he wears the character like a comfortable suit), and his warm-hearted partnership with Marin's Dominguez, make the series an addictive buddy cop adventure as opposed to a competently executed series of genre conventions. Truth be told, Nash Bridges should suck. Johnson, Marin, and the rest of the cast make watching the series a (guilty) pleasure.

A mid-season replacement, the first season of Nash Bridges was comprised of only eight episodes. Season Two was the first full season of the show. This set spreads all 23 episodes across five discs (stacked securely in a standard-size keepcase):

Disc One:
* "Internal Affairs"
* "Til Death Do Us Part"
* "The Great Escape"
* "Wrecking Crew"

Disc Two:
* "Trackdown"
* "The Brothers McMillan"
* "Night Train"
* "Zodiac"

Disc Three:
* "Leo's Big Score"
* "Hit Parade"
* "Promised Land"
* "25 Hours of Christmas"
* "Road Work"

Disc Four:
* "Inside Out"
* "The Counterfeiters"
* "The Web"
* "Knockout"
* "Gun Play"

Disc Five:
* "Rampage"
* "Out of Chicago"
* "Moving Target"
* "Wild Card"
* "Deliverance"

In keeping with their original broadcast format, the episodes are presented in the full frame format. Transfers are decent, though unremarkable. Color is reasonably accurate. Detail appears to be as good as the source allows. The image isn't plagued by dirt, damage, or any other age-related flaws. The presentation is slightly better than broadcast quality, but only slightly. Audio is a Dolby stereo surround mix that is clean but otherwise unimpressive. None of the limitations in video or audio are out of line with what one would expect of a network television show from 1997.

As with first season release, there is a "Writers' Roundtable" featurette that finds a handful of the show's scribes talking about the second season's episodes. Carlton Cuse and Cheech Marin provide an audio commentary for the "Night Train" episode, while Johnson does a talk track for "Wild Card."

If you liked Nash Bridges: The First Season, you'll love Nash Bridges: The Second Season. It has all of the old-fashioned escapist entertainment of the previous, but with nearly three times the number of episodes.

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2009 Dan Mancini; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 89

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 1072 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Episode Commentaries
* Writers' Roundtable

* IMDb