In what might eventually prove to be a feeble attempt at connecting with his adopted city, Andrew is watching every episode of Nash Bridges’ inaugural season. His analysis of this once-popular television program can be found here and on AggressivePanhandler every Friday until the SF Public Library makes him return the DVDs. If you missed episode one and two, you can always catch up.
Episode 4: “High Impact” doesn’t waste any time getting to the plot (which is fine, because I’m sure they’ll waste more than enough time in like 24 minutes). Anyway, someone is threatening to blow up the mayor! We know this because Cortez thinks all the squad cars and fire trucks and Nash’s bonermobile are overkill, but Nash fires right back with, “This is San Francisco, we take threats on the Mayor’s life very seriously.” Is he implying that other cities don’t take threats seriously? That seems kind of mean of him to assume. Besides, I imagine if someone called in a bomb threat on Newsom’s life, the police would just make a painful joke like, “but that’s impossible, sonny! we haven’t seen the mayor in town since ought-nine!” (Awful.)
But back to the bomb threat, because I have so many questions!
First of all, the bomb is in pretty much the dumpiest building in all of North Beach. It appears to be just around the corner from where Flo, the heroin dealing prostitute from last week used to hang out. Not even a strip joint wanted to move in to this place, apparently, and it’s probably “earthquake condemned” like every other building in this show – so why would the Mayor go there? The point of calling in a bomb threat on the Mayor is to imply that you’ve placed a bomb somewhere near the mayor right? That’s how bomb threats work?
Second, Cortez (still an idiot) triggers the timer on the bomb when he kicks down a door. OK, fine. I’ve seen TV, and kicking in a door seems like pretty standard police procedure so I can’t fault him for that, but why wouldn’t the bomber just make the bomb blow up when the door go kicked in? Wouldn’t that be more effective at killing people? (Then I started wondering if Gavin tends to open doors for himself or if he has someone do that for him?)
Of course, the bomber didn’t do anything that would actually kill anybody because that would make this person “a terrorist” and the criminals on this show are really more like troubled citizens who find the weirdest ways to act out their cries for help.
In this case, the generous one minute countdown on the time gives Harvey enough time to go from “very confident in my ability to disarm bombs” to “OH SHIT RUN!” with time on the clock to spare. Nash, of course, is in no hurry and calmly strolls out of that shithole with a cryptic note scrawled on a piece of cardboard before counting down 3… 2… 1… to the explosion.
Now, I could split hairs here about how the 22 seconds on the clock turns in to 29 seconds of screentime because that would be all: MYTH: BUSTED! I got you good, Hollywood! But this show is no 24 (it’s better) and Nash is no Jack Bauer even if they do both share a love for a nice drive after a couple of stiff drinks.
Also, there’s a new guy in the office named Rick and he’s the worst. Seriously, he wants to track down our bomber (who we’re calling “Alpha” because of something to do with bible verses) by going through the “Master Psycho List” systematically using a computer or something. While I’m sure the “Master Psycho List” is a real thing that all police departments have, this really serves to illustrate what a different breed of cop Rick is. And if that wasn’t enough he also insults Nash’s car, calling it “outmoded” as if Nash were riding the Cable Cars all over town. The main conflict in this episode is actually between Nash’s smug look and Rick’s dumb face:
Since Nash in charge of the unit while the Lieutenant is on vacation in Hawaii, he decides the next course of action is to call the Mayor and let her know they’ll be taking over her security detail. Wait: HER security detail? I don’t know why this is so surprising. I mean there’s precedent for it, in Real-Life San Francisco, so it’s not even that much of a stretch. But aside from that note on the bomb, no one has even mentioned the Mayor in the show yet. No time to waste though, there’s been another threat! In the Mayor’s bathroom!
After an exchange between Nash and Mayor Werksman we learn that Cortez is an idiot and had no idea his Mayor was a fierce Black woman. We also learn that she used to ride along with Nash (in the Hemi Cuda, I assume?) when she was the District Attorney and now that there’s plenty of sexual tension in the room, Bobbi asks Nash to be her personal bodyguard. Whoops, looks like we’ve accidentally written the plot of 1992’s The Bodyguard.
Unsurprisingly, the Mayor has also hired a “hot shot PI” who turns out to be our ol’ buddy Cheech who is back from moving to Sweden? And he’s really creepy now? And he also has no idea what the Mayor looks like because it must have seemed like a great idea to hire someone who’s never even seen the mayor. That’s not even important because, really, he just wants to strip search Bobbi’s masseuse:
In an age where we can follow Gavin’s every sandwich on twitter, it seems really odd to me that city employees would have no idea what their mayor even looked like in 1996. What did the Chronicle print pictures of back then?
And Nash’s new commitment with the mayor means he’s missing other important things. Like the meeting with his sister Stacy and the head of the Nursing Home their father Nick is getting kicked out of because he smokes too much and escapes to go find prostitutes all the time.
Sorry Nash, that’s you dad.
Back at the station, Nash starts to suspect Alpha is a former cop because the bomb was exactly like the standard bomb they teach you about in Police Academy. On a related note, Nash has been reading up on bomb making (in a book Cortez checked out from the library) so now he’s an expert on bombs because he’s got a photographic memory. Great, so Nash’s superpower is that he can learn things from books.
Mayor Werksman’s schedule for the day includes a chess tournament in front of the Powell St. Cable Car/The Gap, which seems like a terrible place to be given that someone wants to blow her up. But she’s out there, practically with a target on her head while Cheech describes his near death experience:
Wait, wasn’t that like 3 episodes ago? And they’ve seen each other every episode? And what happened to Cheech’s Swedish wife? I guess they couldn’t shoehorn a horrible blind date scene into this episode, so instead we get this half-assed look into Cheech’s brain and all we find out is that he’s probably delusional. Also this hat:
DA MAYOR, indeed.
After a dizzying and far too long spin-the-camera-around-the-guy-on-the-cellphone-in-the-crowded-square shot, we find out:
1: Alpha has Nash’s cellphone number.
2: Cellphones didn’t have caller ID in 1996.
3: There’s a bomb under the chess match.
No big deal, because Nash read that book on bombs, remember?
But back at the station, asshole Rick’s computer thinks it knows who the bomber is: an ex-cop who’s put out a couple death threats on two former presidents and made it on the FBI’s Unabomber suspects list. Just look how self-satisfied he is!
Now the whole station is pulling overtime, which Rick so politely points out will be great for all the cops who could use the money for the facelifts their wives “so richly deserve and need” (uh, thanks?), but Nash can’t let all that get in the way of his family time. There are beers to be had with Nick.
So, I have to hand it to the writers on this episode. They somehow managed to make the Nash Bridges: Supersleuth scenes even more ridiculous, while making the Nash Bridges: Good Father and Great Friend scenes actually a little bit touching. Take this tender moment as Nick describes having to put down Nash’s dog “ol’ Jumbo” (Winner: best named dog, 1996.)
So, basically, Nick wants Nash to feel OK if he has to pull an Old Yeller on his pappy? That’s about as emotional as this show gets.
The next morning, Rick is assembling the SWAT team to go pick up his suspect, but Nash is still stuck on Grandpa detail because his Stacy is late to pick him up. And now Nash and Alpha are practically BFF, because he starts calling Nash’s landline to ask what he’s wearing to school that day but the phone makes Nick’s hearing aid squeal:
So now Alpha’s pissed that Nash is on Team Mayor Bobbi, but Nash is convinced this guy is not only a cop but also a cop with a hearing aid. Was Nick a cop? Maybe Nick is secretly trying to bomb the mayor during his Alzheimer blackouts.
While the rest of the force is following Rick off to arrest their obvious lead, Harvey is still working the evidence. And he’s got something he wants Nash to hear, but WHOOPS WRONG TAPE – that’s the one he recorded from one of his phone sex sessions (Is this what people did before free internet porn?).
Once he gets that straightened out he plays the tape of the first call with Alpha, followed by the second call. He talks about some nerdy mumbo jumbo about “running it through the computer” and “putting in a reverse algorithm” (TWSS) and it turns out Alpha is a woman! Or has Harvey mixed up the tapes again? It’s hard to tell, because all the lady voiceover actors in this episode sound the same. So they run a “computer check” on all the females in the Mayor’s office, especially female cops with hearing disabilities. Which turns up Sara Wayne Nations, because all crazies have to have three names, that’s just a fact.
Just when Nash and Cheech are about to kick in the door of Nations’ Bernal Heights crazyshack, we arrive at the SHOOTOUT portion of the episode. Although, no one seems to be shooting at anything in particular, we do get a lot of footage of people shooting from cool cop stances.
Of course, Alpha/Sara has the place “wired to the tits.” (they could say that on TV in 1996?) Also, she has a total Ace Ventura anti-Dan Marino shrine:
So now it’s off to the Fairmont, where the Mayor is about to give a speech and, duh, anybody looking to blow her up would definitely make an appearance. But not without a brilliantly disguising herself with a copstache, obviously:
As the Mayor announces her campaign for re-election, Nash notices the bomb under the podium. Great, so we have all these cops working on her protection detail, and we know the assassin likes bombs but no one thought to check under the podium where she’d be standing? Even though it’s incredibly obvious?
So now this criminal mastermind has apparently totally lost it. She’s spouting vaguely religious verse, and she thinks Nash is the angel Gabriel because Cheech is shining a news camera’s floodlight in her eyes. She’s threatening to blow the whole place up, but lo! Nash must be an angel, because he’s holding a piece of wire? That’s from the bomb? I’m so confused, when did he steal that? Was it by sleight of hand wall she was jawing away?
With her bomb detonator not functioning , she rambles some bible verse while backing up to the ledge looking out towards Grace Cathedral and utters some very confused last words: “I’m not the final judge?” before taking the final plunge. Congratulations, Nash, excluding minor thugs and hoodlums, you’ve lost another criminal.
It’s OK though, because karma’s a bitch. And that bitch just landed on your car!
Just when I thought this episode was going to be the one where the writers cut down on the bullshit chit-chat, they have to go and throw in a mushy, 5 minute epilogue in which we learn that Sara wanted to kill the Mayor because of a speeding ticket she got on the Embarcadero Freeway “about five years go” when she was the DA. (Except, whoops, that shit fell down in 1989.)
Nash spends the other four minutes driving around looking for Nick, who’s gone wandering again, only to find him out side of some Broadway strip club doing what the Bridges men seem to do best: getting into trouble while hunting for tail.