THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Air Date: 1991-1992
U.S. Rating: NR
Canadian Rating: NR
Total Disc Length: 1029 minutes
Genre: Crime Comedy-Drama
Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.33:1 full screen
Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Closed Captioned: Yes
SLP: US $59.98
Release Date: NOW
Show Rating: /
Starring: Michael Chiklis (Commissioner Anthony “Tony” J. Scali), Theresa Saldana (Rachel Scali), Geoffrey Nauffts (Officer Stan Kelly), David Paymer (Arnie Metzger)
Guest Stars: Eric McCormack, Leah Remini, Scott Wolf, Ernest Borgnine, Darren McGavin, Telly Savalas
Created by: Stephen J. Cannell and Stephen Kronish.
Once again, Anchor Bay Entertainment has released another excellent TV series from the vaults of Stephen Cannell Productions. The Commish, a hit series on ABC airing from 1991 through 1995, is one of the latest Cannell releases from Anchor Bay. Look for an upcoming review of the Cannell Production The Hunter which is also now available.
The story of The Commish revolves around Tony Scali, a former Brooklyn cop who now serves as police commissioner for a small upstate city. He is a man who has intelligence and wits on the job but also likes to bend the rules. He’s a tough and compassionate boss as well as a loving husband and father. These qualities shine when he deals with the public; he has a high respect for those who are socially disadvantaged and makes sure their needs are cared for, while at the same time ensures he’s tough on those who continually break the law and is committed to keeping these troublemakers off the streets.
The character of Tony is played by Michael Chiklis. His performance is phenomenal and I can’t think of anyone better for the role. His charm, charisma, and emotions are sent to the viewer as very convincing. It was his performance that pulled me into the series. The pilot episode is included in this six disc set and runs about twice as long as the typical 47 minute episode. It is this episode where Chiklis really shines and sets the pace for most of the episodes following. I’ll have to be honest, but this is my most favourite pilot episode of all pilots I’ve seen. There is a perfect mixture of humour, tension and drama for the making a successful series.
Thereafter, the writing of each episode is somewhat hit and miss – but more hits than misses. Sometimes an episode tries to be too funny it comes across as being dumb (In The Best of Families), but most of the time they keep to the darker side of crime and showing the heavy burden Tony has of being a commissioner (Skeletons). Strangely enough, there is an idea in this season that could have been banked on by any television studio much earlier – the idea of reality television. In the 20th episode titled Video Vigilante, the executive of a television station claims the future of television is “Reality-TV”. This conclusion is based on the ultra-high ratings from his viewers when the tapes of the video vigilante (a man who both stops and commits crimes on tape) are aired. Too bad someone else didn’t get on the program sooner.
This set includes three slimcases packaged with two discs each, all placed in a surrounding cardboard slipcase. As with the previously released Silk Stalkings: The Complete First Season, there is no booklet accompanying this set. The episode details are listed on reverse of each slimcase.
Episodes for season one includes:
[*] Pilot Episode – The Commish[*] In the Best of Families[*] Do You See What I See
[*] The Poisoned Tree[*] Nothing To Fear But…[*] Behind The Screen Door[*] The Hatchet
[*] Two Confessions[*] Commissioner’s Ball[*] No Greater Gift[*] The Fourth Man
[*] Charlie Don’t Surf[*] Skeletons[*] The Wicked Flee[*] True Believers
[*] Officer April[*] Sex, Lies and Kerosene[*] Judgement Day[*] Shoot The Breeze
[*] Video Vigilante[*] The Puck Stops Here
VIDEO QUALITY /
At first I was jumping for joy! The pilot episode looked very clean and polished, seemingly coming from film as its source. In its original 4:3 ratio, it looks like a new production. There is never a moment of over saturation in colour or not enough (or too much) contrast. Edge enhancement is not a bother and neither are compression artefacts. The pilot episode gets an A+!
Next, I viewed the second episode. Wow. What a disappointment. The quality went from A+ to a C. The opening credits look absolutely horrible (I’d give it a D) because of the amount of noise and digitization affecting this copied sequence. The rest of the episode was…noisy. Almost all of the episodes lack the rest of the fantastic resolution seen on the pilot episode. These episodes are very acceptable to watch, they just don't shine like the pilot episode does. Like the other Cannell releases, these episodes seem to be sourced from tape but don’t suffer from excessive dot crawl as Silk Stalkings did. Sometimes compression artefacts are a concern and there is less definition on some episodes over others. Sometimes colours just don’t seem right either. After what I thought was going to be the best looking set out of all of the Cannell Productions thus far, The Commish’s picture quality is only a hair above the rest of them, which is in the end is just above average.
AUDIO QUALITY /
This Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack is not stereo at all. When listening to the pilot and all of the episodes, I cannot recall an instance of stereo separation. All of the sound is mono and anchored firmly in a phantom center location. Thankfully, the sound quality of this series is acceptable as dialogue is always clear over the sound effects and the music doesn’t sound distorted. Not a fancy soundtrack but it does the job.
SPECIAL FEATURES /
Included on disc six are separate interviews with actor Michael Chiklis, Theresa Saldana, and co-creators Stephen J. Cannell and Stephen Kronish. Like the last few Cannell productions releases from Anchor Bay, these interviews are shot in 16:9 but are presented letterboxed in 4:3. Each are between five to fifteen minutes in length and everything from the show to their careers are discussed on camera.
IN THE END…
The Commish is a good television comedy-drama in the crime department. Most episodes are very good with only a few that are so-so, but that can be said about any series. At least now this series can be had in your collection with all 21 episodes in one box. While I wish the picture quality was better on the season episodes, I still must give thanks to Anchor Bay for doing such a fine job releasing these Cannell Production series.