Don Johnson had a terrible burden going into the 90s. He was somewhat cursed by his seasons on Miami Vice; the series was so iconic to the 80s. The fashion, the music and the cars brought the MTV attitude to fighting crime. For five seasons he and Philip Michael Thomas were connected at the hip. After a lukewarm film career, Johnson took a second shot at TV cop stardom with Nash Bridges. He relocated to San Francisco, gave himself a daughter and drove a yellow 71 Barracuda. He removed Michael Manns stick up his butt to give his new cop a happy-go-lucky attitude. No longer was he the glum Sonny Crockett. Cheech Marin was brought onto the Special Investigations Unit as his partner. His comic attitude also lightened up heavy action. Nash Bridges: The Second Season delivers intense cop action without getting too gritty.
“Internal Affairs” has Nash in trouble when his pursuit of Danny Trejo goes really bad. The entire group is given the harsh treatment. This seems like a frame job. Somebody just doesnt like these guys. At the same time hes getting grilled, Nashs daughter (Jodi Lyn OKeefe) is learning about police surveillance from Jaime Gomez and Jeff Perry. She seems ready to go deep cover in their wired van. If Nash suspects anything, theres going to be an officer down. “Till Death Do Us Part” gives Cheech only a few days to live when he gets exposed to a deadly virus at a crime scene. His only hope is for them to catch the thieves that took the antidote. Brace yourself for Geraldo Riveras cameo. Richard Edson (Stranger Than Paradise) plays a better role than when he appeared in Miami Vice.
“Zodiac” has Nash going against the notorious serial killer. Hes come out of retirement with a new round of codes. It doesnt end like the David Fincher movie. My favorite moment is when Cheech encounters a dominatrix in the copy room at a business. “Night Train” has a group of kids decide to rob a BART train. What they dont count on is Nash Bridges and his crew taking the train. The girl holding the gun to the hostages is Brittany Murphy. Shes crazed as the cute ringleader. Cheech does well in the crisis of making sure nobody gets to out of control. However someone close to Nash gets plugged by the nutty Murphy. Paula Marshall (Californication) gets a bad date night with the cop. “25 Hours of Christmas” brings the holiday season to Bay area. Nash cant enjoy the holidays until they crack a murder and prostitution ring. Cheech has it worse when his gift of detailing Nashs prized car goes bad. The car is stolen. Tracey Walter (Repo Man) appears as an insane Angel. The ending gives us Cheech fronting a band with Clarence Clemons (Bruce Springsteen and the E Streeet Band) and Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge).
“Wild Aces” is the must-see episode of the season. Theres trouble in Chinatown when a community leader gets gunned down by a gang. The case leads to three major surprises. First you get a reunion of Don with Philip Michael Thomas. Its Crockett and Tubbs except they arent undercover for Miami Vice. Second is the extra treat of Cheech and Chong reuniting. Tommy Chong is part of the Chinatown crime syndicate. Theres even a third stellar moment with Meatloaf (Fight Club) as a heavy. Theres a nostalgic joy in seeing Cheech and Chong in line at a marijuana clinic. Unfortunately this isnt a follow up to Up In Smoke since Cheech is no longer hitting the bong with his ex-partner in crime. Although it is funny when he admits hes still hooked on a drug. Amazingly enough network standards allowed Chong to sneak in a deep puff. We also get to see Don and Philip down by the docks chasing down a cigarette boat. Its like good times on the screen.
Nash Bridges is a fun series with serious gun play. Theres a lot of talking in the show which sets it apart from Miami Vice which used Jan Hammers score to emphasize the heavy tones. Nashs music by Eddie Jobson never shocks the system. The show took a little edge off by placing the SIU office on a ferry boat after their office was ruined in a earthquake. Its a cute location. Cheech keeps things peppy instead of making things depressing. This is a pick me up cop series.
“Internal Affairs,” “‘Til Death Do Us Part,” “The Great Escape,” “Wrecking Crew,” “Trackdown,” “The Brothers McMillan,” “Night Train,” “Zodiac,” “Leo’s Big Score,” “Hit Parade,” “Promised Land,” “25 Hours of Christmas,” “Road Work,” “Inside Out,” “The Counterfeiters,” “The Web,” “Knockout,” “Gun Play,” “Rampage,” “Out of Chicago,” “Moving Target,” “Wild Card” and “Deliverance.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The image reveals the show was shot on 35mm film, but edited on video. This keeps down the wrinkle details on Don Johnsons face. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. A few of the songs were removed from the soundtrack. This comes out better for me since it removes the Miami Vice element of the series. No subtitles, but the episodes are Closed Captioned.
Audio Commentaries are on two episodes. “Night Train” has creator Carlton Cuse and Cheech Marin giving us tales from the set. “Wild Card” features an audio interview with Don Johnson instead of having him watching the episode and describing the action.
Writers Roundtable Season 2 (17:28) brings together the writers of the series to discuss what went into the episodes. Its moderated by creator-executive producer Carlton Cuse. The talk deals with what scenes they felt made the season special. They discuss the burden of making Don Johnson cry. They feared the episode “Zodiac” might have upset the real serial killer and caused him to have a comeback. We get the skinny on the buddy reunions on “Wild Card.”
Nash Bridges: The Second Season allows Don Johnson to establish his character as the anti-Sonny Crockett. He smiles on a case. He cracks up with his partner. He even shaves each morning. Getting to see him reunite with Philip Michael Thomas is a delight, but it reminds us that Nash Bridges is not a retread character.
CBS DVD presents Nash Bridges: The Second Season. Starring Don Johnson and Cheech Marin. Boxset Contents: 23 Episodes on 5 DVDs. Released on DVD: March 3, 2009. Available at Amazon.
Tags: miami vice