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 any, you can always catch up here.
Last week, the boys all got into some mischief related to booze and hookers and gambling and having a Brother-in-Law who is an Elvis impersonator at a strip joint, so Nash decides this would be a good time to go on vacation even though he is constantly talking about how he never goes on vacation because he’s such a devoted keeper of the peace (who sometimes lets stuff get blown up right on Market Street).
He probably doesn’t really need to take vacations because riding around in a convertible all day probably doesn’t really feel like work. Of course, it would be a Nash Bridges vacation if he didn’t have a ladyfriend to keep him company so he logically chooses to go with his recently divorced wife Kelly on a honeymoon to Hawaii because that’s how divorce works. Once you file the papers you have to go on a honeymoon and then your friends give you blenders and toasters and you have to decide who gets to keep them.
But before Nash can jet off into the sunset, he’s got to wrap up this undercover case he’s been working on for six months trying to bring down a big-money gambling kingpin named Wolfgang Hertzog (don’t strain yourselves coming up with villain names, you guys). Also: excuse me? How has he been undercover for six months? Does this Hertzog guy not read the newspapers? Because Nash is in the papers all the time, it’s right there in the opening theme. You’d think a guy who runs a massive illegal sportsbook would at least read the sports section.
But Nash, cocksure as always, strolls in to Hertzog’s mansion as “Teddy Malone” and starts babbling about his vacation to Hawaii, because the best undercover cops always mix their fake lives with their real lives, it’s just easier to keep everything straight that way.
Meanwhile, jerkface Rick Bettina is listening in from the surveillance truck which is actually the second-creepiest truck in San Francisco after this one:
Bettina is pretty pissed that they’ve been working the case for so long, but they’ve got to wrap it up tonight so Nash can go do the hula. So he’s cooking up a plan: if only he can get a hold of the actual sports book, he can tie Hertzog to a handful of murders and bring him in and take all the credit. His plan also includes yelling at the officers in blue a lot, because he’s such a great team player and I’m sure everyone loves him around the office.
But something else is going on, there’s some really loud classical music playing in the Hertzog Mansion and some guy in a frilly jacket is in the bathroom smashing plates:
Nash Teddy Malone makes a crack about the “big rats” Hertzog has in the place and gets right down to the business with the sportsbook without thinking twice about it. The deal is, Teddy/Nash is going to purchase the book and all the outstanding markers worth a couple million. But Hertzog is so eager to get out of the gambling business that he shares a little secret with Teddy: he makes his real money off of money laundering and the list of his clients are all in the book. Convenient! Nash, barely containing his excitement says, “By golly, I feel like it’s Christmas in April!” Me too, Nash. Were you also confused by the stock footage of the skyline with the holiday lights on the Embarcadero Center that they used for the third time this season? That’s what threw me off, I think.
Anyhow, the plate smashing continues upstairs, so Wolfgang excuses himself to go check on his “houseboy” who is “cleaning.” And by “my houseboy”, he obviously meant “my lover Carlos.” Edgy!
Carlos is really pissed that Wolfgang is selling his illegal business instead handing it over to him because Carlos has the passionate Spanish accent of a telenovella character.
Gunshots! Let’s go! Bettina rushes in and breaks his shoulder trying to charge through the door, so Wolfgang’s maid casually lets them in. But whoops, they’re too late: Wolfgang is dead on the floor and Carlos has bolted out the window with the book. “Six months of work, right out the window!” -Nash Bridges, 1996.
Because he’s got a plane to catch the next day, Nash delegates the rest of the work on this case to Bettina, the idiot who can’t even kick in a door like a normal TV cop. I would think his go-to guy would be trusty sidekick Cortez, but Bettina is already coming up with wildly inaccurate theories: “I think we can safely say that Carlos is the hitman!” And Nash is all, “WHAT? That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!” And Rick is all, “OK, have a nice trip…goodbye!” Little Brother Bettina is just getting all annoyed that his parents won’t just go out of town on their vacation and leave him home alone so he can throw a big party and ruin the carpet.
Back at the Bridges loft, Nash gets a phone call from his ex-wife/current lover’s brother Ian – a Rock Star who had one hit seven years ago (that would be 1989 for those of you keeping score) with a song called “Hot Summer Legs”. Conveniently enough Ian and Carlos know each other from rehab, so Nash asks him to keep an eye out for the runaway lover while Kelly, who has been sleeping over, fronts Ian the money to produce his next big hit. With that out of the way and the genius Bettina on the case, Nash is officially on vacation!
The next morning, Carlos meets with an incredibly insensitive record producer named Tyrell, who is looking to buy the betting book and likes to make fun of Carlos’ accent. Carlos wants to renegotiate the price, but Tyrell has a better idea: he’ll give Carlos two hours to put the book on his desk, otherwise Tyrell’s gonna kill him. I guess Tyrell is forgetting the part where that would leave him without a way to find where the book is hidden, but other than that this is some perfect gangster negotiations.
Speaking of negotiations, Kelly wants to take Nash shopping before the car arrives to take them to the airport at 4pm. Nash needs a new bathing suit, you see. But Nash needs to talk Bettina out of one of his ridiculous theories first so he heads to the office, despite Kelly’s protests, to “pick up his sunglasses.” Kelly looks confused, probably because has a motorcycle in his loft now for no reason.
Down at the Station, Rick is really pushing hard to bring in Carlos as the hitman on the gambling murders. A credit card under Carlos’ name was used at a motel in Potrero Hill, so Rick sends someone to investigate and completely ignores Nash’s tip to check out Ian’s place – also in Potrero Hill – because, as we know Ian and Carlos are good friends and….wait a second… if Carlos knows Ian, and Ian knows Nash then why didn’t Carlos recognize Nash during these six months of undercover work? Something doesn’t add up! [SPOILER ALERT: That particular mystery is not actually something anyone will bother to address in this episode.] So Nash and Evan take off on a little ride to have a chat with Ian at what must be the coolest loft in all of Potrero Hill:
But before Nash and Evan arrive in the neighborhood, Carlos leaves the book with Ian and bolts. Ian doesn’t want anything to do with the book even though he owes Tyrell 22 grand and Tyrell just told Carlos he’d buy it for $25,000. Do people not understand how money works? Why is Ian so worried about having the book, when he could just use it to absolve his debt? Who cares, Juan Carlos is off to Barcelona! But not before he gets stopped by this guy:
Special Agent Elliot Rose, FBI. Who has also been running an investigation on Hertzog for the past six months and he knows that Carlos has been Wolfgang’s “backdoor man” (Really??) for the past year and a half. He only wants the book and Carlos can go free, so Carlos confesses that he handed the book off to Ian, only to be rewarded by a shot to the chest in a dirty alleyway. Turns out that guy wasn’t with the FBI, he was Wolfgang’s secret hitman and now he’s out to take over the gambling business.
Meanwhile, Nash thinks he’s the “Cal Ripken Jr. of Police inspectors” for the number of consecutive work days he’s taken without a vacation: 4,336! He also thinks he can have this case wrapped up in 45 minutes. While we really hope Nash will, in fact, be able to finish this up in time to have lunch with Kelly, something has already gone wrong. The bogus FBI agent (now “Tony Iris”) is knocking on Ian’s door:
Naturally, Ian bolts out the fire escape because this show loves a good on-foot pursuit scene, but instead of giving chase the phony FBI agent kidnaps Ian’s girlfriend Cynthia Nixon (who in the process of leaving Ian to move back home to Iowa anyway) and leaves a ransom note on the wall, right next to the giant ice cream cone and the tandem bike:
After successfully making his escape, Ian heads directly to Brainwash where everyone except his girlfriend knows he likes to “hang” and some hippies are having a poetry slam:
But two thugs interrupt and decide to poetry slam Ian right in his stupid cockney mouth. The crowd at Brainwash experiences a small interruption. Meanwhile Evan and Nash are in the car discussing the philosophical meaning of Nash’s refusal to take a vacation and elsewhere Cynthia Nixon is trying to explain the profundity of Ian’s single “Hot Summer Legs” to the FBI Agent/Hitman whose name we still don’t know. All the best conversations in this show happen while driving. It’s just like The West Wing except instead of long walks through the White House, we have long drives down South Van Ness. Also, yes – Cynthia Nixon has always been really annoying to listen to.
Suddenly we’re back at Big Barry’s House of Beauty. (Remember that guy?) Not only was he good at procuring rocket launchers, but he is also responsible for the Brainwash beatdown on Ian and he’s come to collect Tyrell’s money. Does Ian have any collateral? Hey! what about this book?
While Barry negotiates the sale of the book, Nash and Evan interview the poet back at the coffee shop/laundromat. She describes the henchmen as “one big and bald, the other had great hair.” That’s all Nash needs to know that she’s talking about Barry’s muscle: Tiny and Jerome. Now things are in motion: Jerome is headed to sell the book to Tyrell, Barry has pointed Nash in the same direction, and Cynthia Nixon is babbling to the not-actually-an-FBI-agent guy about how Ian owes Tyrell a bunch of money. Nash and Evan stroll in to Tyrell’s office, find the book on his desk and wrap up the case. Of course Rick is butthurt because, while he was busting his ass making phone calls and pointing at people in the office, Nash was busting his ass driving his nice convertible about and actually recovered the book:
So, Nash is off to Hawaii for real this time:
But what’s this? A mysterious FBI Agent has come out of nowhere to commend Bettina on his great work with the Hertzog case, oh and he’d also like to get the sportsbook down to the Bureau so he can photocopy it. Bettina happily hands it over, but Hey! Wait! …you know you can’t get out of here without signing a W9-14 Evidence Requisition Form!
So Agent Whoever walks out with the book and Nash is putting on his new Hawaiian shirt to go meet Kelly at the airport where their flight has been delayed until 7:30. But whoops! Rick forgot to get both sides of that W9-14 Evidence Requisition Form signed, so he calls down to the FBI field office where the Agent in Charge lets him know he just handed the sportsbook over to Martin Flowers – a renegade agent who now works as a hired assassin. But how was Rick supposed to know that? The FBI is so secretive! Well, Rick, it turns out Flowers is #9 on the FBI’s Most Wanted list:
So Rick, chases down Nash before he can take off and admits that he’s the worst police inspector ever and that Nash was right all along. Nash responds with: “Have you reached the pit of abject humiliation yet?” EPIC BURN. And they’re off to find Flowers in the next 45 minutes.
And Rick’s in luck! Flowers is at Red’s Java House having a hamburger on stale sourdough with Cynthia Nixon, who has just snuck off to the bathroom to call Nash, because she knows his phone number by heart and wants to know if there’s a reward for “an ex-FBI JERK named Martin Flowers.”
So Rick and Nash storm the restaurant without bothering to call for backup. There’s a shootout! And Battina gets into a scuffle with Flowers, only to end up in the Bay, letting Flowers escape.
Pissed-off Nash, loans sopping-wet Battina his new Hawaiian shirt and pays him twenty bucks to drive him to the airport, because this is Rick’s mess now and dammit, Nash wants to take a vacation! Meanwhile, Cynthia Nixon brings the book back to Ian who just finished his genius new song. (Which sounds exactly like every other pop song in 1996.) Ian, calls Tyrell, who picks up the book and brings it to the airport because he’s headed off to Burbank. And wouldn’t you know it, Rick is just dropping Nash off while Flowers lurks in the shadows by the skycaps. Now there’s something they don’t let you do at airports anymore. Tyrell stashes the book in his checked luggage and Flowers picks it off before it heads down the conveyor belt, but Battina recognizes him and they’re off to the races! Flowers flashes his FBI Badge (a fake!) and Nash shows his SFPD Badge so obviously there’s no waiting in the security line.
They all burst out onto the tarmac where a fistfight ensues and Nash knocks out Flowers onto a conveniently place conveyor belt, where he rolls up into the belly of some plane going somewhere. (Easier than taking him to jail – too much paperwork and dammit, Nash is on VACATION.)
Nash darts off to his seat next to Kelly on his Kona Air flight to Hawaii with blood still on his face (“I…uh…had a little problem with my bags…”) while Rick assures Nash he’ll pick up the bag with the book that’s laying on the tarmac. Except, whoops this is where it ends up:
So, #9 on the FBI’s most wanted list just got a free flight out of town and the sportsbook they were looking for the whole episode is stuck in lost luggage. Good detective work guys, you actually LOST everything you were trying to recover. Might I suggest making this vacation permanent?
Next week: SEASON FINALE! Oh and someone is smuggling computer chips inside the bodies of dead women.