Nash Bridges: The First Season
Directed by Peter Werner et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 374 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
MSRP: $ 42.99
Release Date: October 14, 2008
Review Date: October 13, 2008
Don Johnson’s return to the crime drama genre where he won his first great fame is practically the only thing that distinguishes Nash Bridges from any run-of-the-mill cop show. Johnson’s natural charisma does a lot to make the otherwise predictable crime capers this series centers on palatable. The show was never a monster hit for CBS, but it did well enough in its undemanding Friday night timeslot to hang around for six seasons.
Don Johnson stars as the title character, a twice-divorced police inspector with the San Francisco Police Department. Youthful inspector Evan Cortez (Jaime Gomez), inspector Harvey Leek (Jeff Perry) and their boss Lt. Shimamura (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) also assist him on the various cases that come his way. Former inspector Joe Dominguez (Cheech Marin) was retired at the beginning of the series, but plot machinations allow him to rejoin the force and thus also become part of the weekly investigations. The title character’s domestic life was also a major part of the weekly episodes. First wife, the angry Lisa (Annette O’Toole), and second wife Kelly (Serena Scott Thomas), Nash’s aging father (James Gammon), and Nash’s daughter Cassidy (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) also figure into the plots of selected shows as Nash grapples with trying to keep all of the women in his life placated and needing to take care of his father who‘s on the verge of Alzheimer’s.
The plots in this first brief season are standard run-of-the-mill crime drama fodder. Drug dealers, home invaders, mad bombers, weapons robbers, and kidnappers are all serviceable villains for Nash and company to be combating. After a wobbly start, the producers figured out that the Nash-Joe pairing drove the show (though I find a little of Cheech Marin’s motor mouth goes a long way), and the domestic scenes (which again I found distracting and often intrusive to the drama) separated this show from other crime dramas of the same era. Certainly Johnson’s easy charm (the way he refers to folks as “Bubba”) and his slick, easy way of manipulating situations to his advantage make Nash Bridges an uncomplicated but enjoyable way to pass an hour. And guest stars like Lucy Liu, Xander Berkeley, Tony Plana, RuPaul, Paul Hipp, Cynthia Nixon, Giancarlo Esposito, William Atherton, and Valerie Perrine also provide the show with some appeal to match that of its star.
Here are the eight episodes which constituted the first season of the show. The names in parentheses indicate the participants in the audio commentary for that episode.
1 - Genesis (Pilot) (Carlton Cuse, Cheech Marin)
2 - Home Invasion
3 - Skirt Chasers
4 - High Impact (Don Johnson)
5 - The Javelin Catcher
6 - Vanishing Act
7 - Aloha Nash
8 - Key Witness
The show’s 1.33:1 broadcast aspect ratio is faithfully delivered here in these DVD transfers. The pilot episode looks very brown and lacks the sharpness of the other episodes. Other episodes have sequences that are sometimes washed out or have a dated look with plugged up color. Otherwise, the shows display good sharpness and faithful flesh tones. Without anamorphic enhancement, there is aliasing in many episodes, but it’s only momentarily distracting. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround track is surprisingly robust for a program of this period. There is more than adequate bass extension, and since the overall volume of the sound design is a bit too loud, occasionally dialog can get lost with other portions of the audio ramped up for maximum impact.
There are two audio commentaries. The pilot features creator Carlton Cuse and co-star Cheech Marin happily reminiscing about shooting the pilot and other special moments of making the series. An audio interview with Don Johnson has been edited to serve as a commentary on episode #4 though his comments are not episode specific.
An interview dubbed Writers’ Roundtable Season 1 finds five of the series’ writers (most who have gone on to greater fame with such shows as Lost and The Shield) sitting around discussing aspects on the writing of the series. Some of the more interesting comments involve the genesis of the show, how actor Cheech Marin was selected to be a part of the show package, the difficulties of writing for a star as opposed to an ensemble show, and how they felt the show differed from the usual police procedural. The interview filmed in 4:3 lasts 18 ½ minutes.
An interview with Don Johnson and Cheech Marin was filmed during the production of the series' first season and runs 2 minutes.
“Don Johnson and the Original Gonzo Idea” is a 2008 interview with Don Johnson in which he talks about how his original conception of the show with an assist by the late Hunter S. Thompson was adapted by Carlton Cuse into Nash Bridges. He also talks about the network head Les Moonves not originally wanting the series since he didn’t help in its development. The interview is 7 ½ minutes long.
An original network promo for the series runs 2 ½ minutes.
There are previews for Dexter, Twin Peaks, Jericho, and the CSI franchise.
Not a great series but a pleasant way to spend an action-filled hour, Nash Bridges’ first eight episodes comprise its first two-month season. That there are bonuses attached to the box set is a pleasant surprise and give the package added value for fans of the show.