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.
Long after actual, quality programming has returned to my television, I’m still here watching nearly 15 year-old episodes of Nash Bridges. Even though we’re now halfway though season one, that’s only 3% of the show’s 122 episode run. I really wanted to lead off this week with some thoughtful comments about how we’ve come so far but still have so long to go, but all I came up with were some self-deprecating remarks about how I must be the only Nash Bridges superfan in the entire universe. That was until I found this incredibly creepy Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Cassidy) fansite, whose proprietor (a lady) has just recently confessed to purchasing all six seasons on DVD so she can create Jodi Lyn tribute videos on YouTube and is Facebook friends with the actor who plays Evan Cortez. I’m actually feeling fairly normal now.
With that said, this episode actually contains absolutely zero appearances by Ms. O’Keefe (or Cheech and about 80% of the supporting cast for that matter) so maybe that DVD box set wasn’t such a good investment. What it does have though is a stellar cameo by none other than notable Drag Queen and 1990’s TV Personality RuPaul, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
We can already tell Episode 5: “Javelin Catcher” is going to be great because of the vaguely homoerotic undertones in the title. As we open on what, according to IMDB, used to be the North Beach Housing Project on Bay Street. The neighborhood in the shot looks quaint enough, but someone obviously told the producers if they play cheesy 1990’s rap beats over it, it’ll look much more ghetto. [Sidenote: the block has since been rebuilt as an apartment complex with a Trader Joe’s and a Starbucks.]
So OF COURSE the victim of the shooting we’re investigating would be gang-affiliated. The crime has a curious twist: We know someone is dead, but there’s no body! And the only piece of evidence is a size 11, extra-wide Air Jordan. Ha! Remember when gangsters used to wear Air Jordans? In 1996 I was wearing Air Jordans (Size 6, Children’s). I was so gangster.
The reason for the missing body? Inspector Bryn is dropping hints left and right that the weapon used in the killing was VERY LARGE, but Nash is too hung up on the killer’s motive (“some kind of Romeo got caught doing the pony ride with a rival gang member’s sister”) to pick up on it.
Now we’re learning a lot about Nash: He asks a lot of questions, but not because he’s a detective – because he just likes to hear himself talk. When Bryn says he needs to see the crime scene, he sighs and laments that there is only one witness in the entire complex: a six year-old kid whose only quote is “BOOM!”
Nash still doesn’t pick up on it though, mostly because he’s an egotistical dickhead who doesn’t actually listen to anyone. Which explains why it took him so long to notice this:
Call ballistics. And tell ’em to bring the realllly big tweezers
Or maybe he didn’t notice because he found this to be a perfectly acceptable entryway for an apartment. He’s actually got the same setup at his stupid earthquake condemned penthouse.
Back at the station Nash and Harvey are trying to deduce what this new weapon is that’s out there on the streets. We know last week Nash became an expert on bombs, so he rules out bombs and calls this the work of “some kind of a kick-ass assault weapon.” Just some regular cop-talk. He also says it “blew a hole the size of the East River.” Do people from San Francisco make references to New York landmarks all the time? Does that seem weird to anyone else?
That’s not important though because Lieutenant AJ strolls in with attractive Army Captain Sandra McCormick who is in search of a Javelin Anti-Tank weapon that has been stolen from an army base in Pacifica. Those gangsters! They’re always knocking off liquor stores and army bases in Pacifica to bring anti-tank weapons back to the city to start gang wars over who boned whose sister. MYTH: PLAUSIBLE.
Of course since Nash is a misogynist prick, he revels in the lady captain’s screwup. Suddenly she doesn’t seem so tough in her dress uniform and her tone quickly changes from “I’m here to kick ass and find a penis rocket” to “Oh, please help me, Mr. Bridges! Help me with your powerful Hemi ‘Cuda!” (Gender roles, you guys.)
On the other hand, Nash does ask one good detective question and we learn that eight rounds of ammo are missing along with the weapon.
Damn, this is gonna be fun! (Ugh. No, Nash Bridges.)
Meanwhile Cortez is trying to get RuPaul, queen of the Transgendered Sex Worker’s Union, to identify someone who has been beating up the ladies of Polk Street, but he is visibly uncomfortable with the awkward gender distinctions. You could teach a Gender Studies 201 class based entirely on the content of this episode, that’s how powerful this stuff is.
Cut to Fort Pacifica, where a befuddled Army Officer is confronted by someone who looks an Indiana Jones villain, but is not actually a Nazi – he’s part of some kind of Mafia. This creepy gentleman, it seems, was supposed to purchase the Javelin (we sell weapons to creeps all the time, no big deal, Ollie North.) but instead ended up with some MRE’s (“Meals Ready to Eat”, duh) that another gentleman had come to purchase.
OK, so let me get this straight – the Army base was shutting down so they decided to sell their extra rations to the residents of the North Beach Housing Project? OK, that seems a little insulting, but I’ll allow it. What’s more insulting though is that our new friend Vincenzo “Vinny Diamond” Diamond (Wait, who’s the drag queen here, again?) didn’t even inspect the goods he purchased before arriving home to the ravioli factory he probably runs his operation out of. Vinny, this is why you’ll always be small time: because you’re an idiot.
Anyway, Vinny tries to shrug it off and play tough, putting on his best Brando voice:
Really? You’re allowed to kill your friend if he lies? Is that how friendship works?
As Vinny’s limo heads to an appliance store in Bayview where they also sell weapons that are hidden in refrigerators and washing machines, he lays out the situation to his driver: Apparently, he only gets 10% cut of all the jobs he and the other mobsters pull off and he’s pissed that he never gets invited to the annual mobster Christmas party on the Don’s yacht. (The Don gives everyone Tiffany eggs and bicycles for Christmas.)
Meanwhile, Nash is hot on the trail of the Javelin. Except, he is literally headed in the wrong direction:
After spending his time at Fort Pacifica watching an instructional video on the Javelin weapon, he decides Big Barry would know where to find this thing. Because a guy who runs Rick James’ Superfreaky Disco Barbershop will probably know if anyone in the neighborhood accidentally received an anti-tank weapon instead of army rations.
Barry (sadly not played by Barry Bonds) is outraged by the violence on the streets, but won’t give up the shooter’s name so Nash is forced to “cash in a chip”. 99% of detective work is actually blackmail.
Meanwhile Vinny is talking about “friendship” again, this time with the arms dealer/appliance salesman who sold the Javelin to some guy named T-Bone. And the race is on! Will Nash find the weapon first or will creepy mobster guy get to to use it to ruin some Mafia Don’s pleasure cruise?
Nash and the Lady Captain track down T-Bone, but before they can get any info out of hims, he’s gunned down by a driveby shooter in a 1940’s sedan like some kind of Dick Tracy thugs.
Whoops, there goes your witness.
Jump cut to the Cortez residence, where we see Evan, uh… “finishing up” with a lady. The first thing he says is, “Are you ok?” which is always a sign that your relationship is going well. So glad we got to find out that Cortez is an underperformer who is wildly insecure in bed. This is very important character development.
Back at the station, the Lieutenant is interviewing RuPaul again. Girls on Polk Street are scared. The rash of beatings has gotten bad. Also, I think it goes without saying that when I say “girls of Polk Street” I mean “Transgendered sex workers”, not like…”26 year old girls who spend too much time in sports bars” or “Club Rouge Patrons”.
ANYWAY, the Lieutenant needs someone to go undercover as a tranny to lure the guy in and stop this rash of hate crimes. Bryn, the one biological female in the room volunteers, but RuPaul insists she’s “too real”. Harvey is suspiciously eager to pretend he’ll take one for the team on this one, but RuPaul immediately vetoes Harvey on account of his beer gut. She does, however, love the look of Cortez’s soft hands, but he is reluctant to take on the job. So that sex scene was trying to tell us that maybe he’s gay and is having trouble admitting it to himself?
Nash and Lady Captain head to T-Bone’s house because now that he’s dead I guess you’re allowed to just go search his place? Probably not a big deal since he appears to live in a shanty in an abandoned lot in Bayview anyway. He’s got a widescreen TV, so we know he’s living large (in his shack), but the Javelin’s no longer there (probably because that’s a shitty place to keep valuable stuff). Whoever bought the weapon left behind the instruction manual though. That’s so friendly of the guys at the military to include the instruction manual in their illegal sale of military property.
Suddenly, a payphone in T-Bone’s shanty rings and Nash answers it, but what he doesn’t answer are all of my questions about why T-bone has a payphone in his shack and if he still has to pay with quarters to make a call.
On the other end of the line is some punk white kid who bought the Javelin but can’t figure out how to work it without the instruction manual. (Sophisticated weaponry is HARD.) This is how we know he’s an idiot. Well, that and the fact that he quickly accepts that Nash must be T-Bone’s boss and so they arrange for him to come by and pick up the instruction manual in half an hour. CLEVER GIRL. So this guy Jimmy and his dimwitted friends are an arcade just playing videogames and planning their robbery of an armored truck that makes deliveries to the “San Francisco Bank” at Market & 6th. Normal gang meeting place.
So Vincenzo, is also friends with Big Barry. You can tell by the looks on their faces:
After a $400 haircut Barry gives Vinny the run down of the robbery going down at Market & 6th. So I guess Vinny is just gonna run down there and stop a couple of guys with a rocket launcher all by himself? Why doesn’t he have any henchmen? What a terrible mobster.
So the white gang, who still don’t have the instruction manual for the Javelin (they seem to be the only ones too stupid to figure out how to use it) are headed to their heist even though Jimmy has gone missing? I guess he wasn’t that important to the operation because of how he’s a total idiot. Also, is this gang from Fresno or something? Because they’ve got the best getaway vehicle:
No, guys, you don’t look at all like the Beverly Hillbillies. What gave you that impression? No…no…I’m sure everyone will be super scared of you when you roll up in that magnificent piece of machinery. Also, they were carrying the rocket launcher on top of a load of vegetables?
Now that it’s raining dollar dollar bills, y’all, the white boys skedaddle with a wad of cash. Good thing Nash got a solid look at the license plate because that incredibly old fruit truck with the fat man hanging off the side would be really hard to recognize. I bet there are like a billion of those in this city. Although it doesn’t really matter if they get tracked down or not because they just threw away the Javelin. Like – “in the trash” – threw away. That’s more effort than most people in San Francisco put in to disposing of their furniture.
So Nash has no trouble tracking them back to their hideout, but where’s the weapon?
A bum has it!
Just kidding Barry has it.
While all this was going down, Evan’s been preparing for his big debut as “Evanna”:
Just look at that dramatic mise-en-scene.
Anyway, now Barry is selling the Javelin to Vincenzo for four grand along with $1000 dollars of shampoo because that’s how business goes down.
Back at the station the Lieutenant is nervous about the missing rocket launcher, but Evan and Nash aren’t too nervous about a little Urinal Guy-Talk:
That’s quite a look of relief on your face, Nash.
Coming out of the bathroom, Nash gets a call from Barry who is ready to sell out Vinny if the department loses a signed confession they have on him, and soon Nash is off to Vinny’s house on Hillsbury Street, which is apparently somewhere near Telegraph Hill (no it’s not). But Vinny’s not home, so Nash and the lady captain give up to go stakeout his apartment from an overlook and also make out a little bit in the Hemi ‘Cuda.
Sidenote: remember when mountain bikes were cooler than fixies?
Not too far away, on Polk Street, Cortez is learning to walk in heels, while RuPaul waves down potential Johns and Harvey listens in from a cafe down the street.
“What are you doing waving? Who do you think you are? Ms. Princess Diana?”
Back in the bonermobile, Captain Sandra is asking Nash out on a weekend getaway to a little B&B she knows in Mendocino. They’ve barely exchanged two sentences over the course of this episode, so I’m just going to assume it’s his raw animal magnetism that really launches her rockets.
But this stakeout is pretty useless anyway – Vinny’s not coming home because Vinny’s over on Polk street trying to pick up Cortez who is still undercover as “Evanna”. OK, so Vinny turns out to be the one who’s sexuality is in question. This whole rocket launcher thing is just a classic case of overcompensation.
Back on the streets, Cortez picks up their man on their very first customer: he’s a preachy creep who thinks he’s cleaning up the streets. But the real fun comes when Cortez gets home, still in drag, to his girlfriend who has been waiting for him:
It’s definitely hotter than that nightgown you’re wearing.
By the next morning, Crotez and Harvey figured out that the guy beating up hookers works for a developer who is planning a project on Polk and wants to clean up the neighborhood. Vinny, on the other hand, is out on bail and Nash just missed him.
So that’s like basically having a warrant, I guess because Nash and Captain McCormick go crash Vinny’s apartment, where he lives with his mother – a silent, Jeff Dunham puppet of a woman:
I have to admit, that’s great casting. They both have that stupid look on their faces.
Nash finds some photos of Nick Vovokis, the big mobster in the city and deduces Vinny’s plan. Captain Sandra apparently doesn’t buy it though because she asks, “what makes you think he’s the target?”
Oh, I dunno maybe it’s because Vinny drew a big crosshairs on the photo…?
On the phone, Vinny let’s Vovokis know that the city is now his because Vovokis “never learned not to say the word ‘Frisco’.” That’s just more great writing from the team, is what that is.
As he tells Vovokis to say goodbye, Nash sneaks up on him and scares the crap out of him. Causing the Javelin to fire and blow up the water tower on Alcatraz.
In the epilogue, Captain Sandra is packing up her office. She’s getting a promotion and a reassignment to the Indian Ocean because “they got the gun back, and what more could they want?” Well, they probably didn’t want to have a piece of Army hardware blow half of a major American city, but whatever the episode still ends with Nash and Sandra doing the deed on her halfway-packed desk. HIGH FIVE NASH!
Next week: I dunno, the episode is called “Vanishing Act” so maybe someone can make this whole thing go away.