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?
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?”
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). Kelly Hu joined the cast for just this season as new unit member Michelle Chan. 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.
Season 3 is pretty much like the one before. Country singing star Willie Nelson plays a snitch for the boys in the episode Payback. The boys are getting him a temporary release from prison to help in a 48 Hours kind of deal. The boys are trying to track down a guy who escaped from the mental ward and is looking for Sherlock Holmes. Why? Because he thinks he’s Moriarty. That’s One Flew Over The Cuda’s Nest, and it’s hilarious. An explosion takes away Nash’s memory, and it’s up to Joe to let him know what’s going on in Blackout. Nash has always believed his brother died in Vietnam. A new case may prove he’s still alive in the episode Revelations. In Crossfire, Nash has to dodge an onslaught of assassins when a million dollar bounty is put out on him. In Live Shot Geraldo Rivera comes to do an interview with Nash, but someone has spiked his drink with LSD. Funny lady Penny Marshall guest stars as a special crimes detective who helps the boys protect a famous model in Skin Deep. In Lady Killer Bettina is framed for murder. Now his worst enemy, Nash is the only one who can clear his name.
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.
Unlike the first two seasons, this release has no extras.
I’m amazed at how many young folks out there don’t even know who Don Johnson is anymore. Now I keep expecting him to show up on a panel on the Game Show Network. I can remember Miami Vice as well as Nash Bridges. Now I run into people all the time that look at me with a vacant smile when I talk about this stuff. Don who? Miami what, don’t you mean CSI: Miami? Where exactly is that Nash Bridge you keep going on about? Does that cross the Delaware? “Does this make you feel real old?”