Season two marks the actual first complete season of Nash Bridges. It’s time for the show to deliver on the high octane, high attitude it was to be famous for. This was also the year that both of the main actors reunited with their former partners. Tommy Chong and Philip Michael Thomas both guested on the episode Wild Card. The show paid homage to both of the former partners. Chong plays a pot dealer, and Thomas plays a hotshot gambler friend of Nash’s who likes to dress up like the Vice characters did . It was a pretty sweet episode on top of everything else. It might be the best Nash Bridges episode ever, definitely for this season. Don Johnson also got to stretch his acting chops a bit in an episode where he believes Cassidy, his daughter, has been killed in an accident. Nash also goes up against the infamous Zodiac killer in an episode crosses real life surreal episode. In Till Death Do Us Part, Joe thinks he’s only got a couple of days to live after he’s exposed to a deadly toxin. Cheech Marin really works this for all it’s worth. Marin also has an incredibly good episode in Inside Out, where he goes undercover as a prison inmate to take down a Mexican gang leader. In Knock Out, we learn that Nash’s sister is gay. Given an entire run of episodes, Nash has finally arrived for real in the second season.
When Miami Vice finally left the air in 1989, Don Johnson was a very hot commodity indeed. He decided to try and parlay that success into a film career that never really brought him the breakout roles and fortunes he envisioned. Not too proud to return to his roots, he signed a deal with CBS that gave him pretty much a blank check to star in whatever kind of television series he wanted. It was a rare deal that forced CBS to air, or at least pay for, whatever Johnson came up with. Many of us were expecting pretty much a Miami Vice clone when it was announced he would once again be playing a cop. It was all sounding pretty familiar. Bridges was a super cool cop, this time from San Francisco with a rather tattered personal life. He was going to be teamed up with a partner, who wasn’t going to be a cop, but an investigator whose cases would cross paths with Bridges’. It was rumored that the partner might not survive the pilot, thereby killing the buddy cop routine that was beginning to sound very much like Johnson’s previous show. It appeared doomed to failure, and even CBS was at first looking to back out of the deal. They tried to buy Johnson off, but he was by now very excited about the new show and insisted he get his episodes. But how could this new show not be compared to the old? How could anyone have the kind of chemistry with Johnson that John Diehl had? On March 29, 1996 everyone held their collective breaths as Nash Bridges appeared on the scene. Cheech Marin ended up with tons more chemistry with Johnson, helped by the fact the two had been friends for over 25 years. In short order Nash Bridges had arrived, and television audiences everywhere found themselves saying: “Miami Who?”
It’s been some years since I had seen an episode of Nash Bridges. I had almost forgotten everything about the show except for two things. I remembered how great Johnson and Marin were together and, of course, that ugly-colored Cuda. I watched these episodes and found that my perspective hadn’t changed. Who cares what the story is about? Who remembers any of the cases? I remember the characters and the car, and 10 years later it feels exactly the same way. In many ways Nash Bridges was the last of its kind. The cycle of buddy cop and car chases was pretty much over. What started with James Rockford and Starsky and Hutch was now evolving into Law & Order and CSI. We still had procedurals, but they had changed their procedures. If you have to say goodbye to a beloved era, what better way than with Nash Bridges?
Nash Bridges (Johnson) led San Francisco’s Special Investigations Unit. His former partner was detective Joe Dominquez (Marin) who was now a PI but ended up working with Bridges more often than not on the same cases. They drove around in an orange-yellow Barracuda. Bridges was a great cop, but a horrible husband and father. He had two ex-wives, with one of which he had his only child, Cassidy (O’Keefe). Nash lived with his dad (Gammon) who was a retired longshoreman. Still, with his S.I.U. team, Nash Bridges always got his man, or woman. Most of each episode saw Bridges and Dominquez riding around in their “Cuda” which necessitated the usual car chases.
Each episode of Nash Bridges is presented in its original full frame broadcast format. I found the colors to be quite soft, and this looks very much like the 1970’s genre shows from which it draws much of its inspiration. There is some odd fluctuation in color from time to time. The prints are in pretty good shape, with occasional scratches and dirt to contend with. Considering what it is, this is a very average presentation that won’t add to or take away from your experience.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is basically there to service the dialog, and it does. The music is considerably loud. If you keep in mind the source material, you can’t expect anything more than this.
There are two Audio Commentaries to be found. The pilot features a very entertaining track with Cheech Marin and Carlton Cruse. Marin is a riot. The second track is with Don Johnson, but it is a collection of interview clips and not a running commentary. This track is found on the episode: High Impact.
The only feature is found on the first of 5 discs in the set.
Writer’s Roundtable: This 18 minute feature reunites the main writers from season 1. Most notable here is the creator of The Shield, Shawn Ryan. They gather and reminisce about the show. The title suggests one of those writers breaking a story features. This is a new gathering by the original team.
Again I have to say that Nash Bridges is way better than Miami Vice. The chemistry between Johnson and Marin is what make this one of the best of the buddy cop shows. Cheech and Chong fans will want this release just for the reunion of the comedians. “Put your hands where I can see them, and step away from the bong.”