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.
So where were we? Oh, right – Nash was busy, er… getting busy with an army Captain on her desk at an Army base in Fort Point. A decidedly hetero ending to an episode so chock full of potentially gay situations that they left Cheech out of it entirely, because god forbid anyone start to question the nature of the buddy cop dynamic. That episode’s bumbling attempts at reversing gender roles after already setting up Nash to be a shameless womanizer made me wonder if maybe some Women’s Rights group didn’t petition the producers, asking them to include more strong women characters.
But compared to that episode, episode 6: “Vanishing Act” is firmly “masculine.” There are more strippers in this episode than cops. In fact, it leads off with the guys in a surveillance van (it’s always a van, isn’t it?) spying on some unsuspecting woman’s window like they’re some sort of Estevez/Dreyfuss combo.
Meanwhile the team is supposed to be keeping an eye on Harvey who’s working an undercover job with the Russian Mafia. He’s also clearly intoxicated because of how he’s a Professional Detective and getting drunk with ex-KGB agents is always a good idea. But no one in the group hates the Russians more than Cheech, which prompts Nash to bring up his partner’s sudden departure to Sweden that happened like a million episodes ago.
Long story short: Cheech points out that there are no “heartwarming, happy-go-lucky Latino characters” in Ignmar Bergman movies, so he got to move back to SF and get his job back even though was trying to retire before, but I guess now he doesn’t want to. How quickly we forget.
So Harvey’s holding 500 grand, which he’s supposed to exchange for something in a deal that’s going down on Muni. He’ll just hop on at 10th and Market, make the exchange, and hop off at 4th. Muni is obviously a really great place to do a deal like this, because what could possibly go wrong in the course of four blocks on the Muni? Muni never has problems. Ever.
But sure enough, something goes wrong because we’re still in the first 4 minutes of this TV show and if nothing went wrong it’d just be a show about a cop arresting people instead of a show about a cop who consistently shows up in time to watch criminals shoot each other in the face. The surveillance team can’t hear what’s going on with Harvey because the overhead cables are interfering with his wire – it’s an old KGB trick, duh. Now Harvey has gone missing from the F-Market and Nash is threatening to keep everyone on the train all night until someone remembers seeing something.
The only person on the train who saw anything was an ancient woman who swears he got off at 8th Street and that he was followed by Elvis. Or Elvis got off first and Harvey followed – she’s not sure of the order in which they left the train, because of how she seems to be even more drunk than Harvey was, but she is definitely sure Elvis was involved. OK, but I’m pretty sure the threat of being stuck on a antique streetcar from Milan all night would cause me to make up some pretty weird stories too.
Back in the SNEAKY SURVEILLANCE VAN, their Russian Translator/intern girl is watching a live feed from the Russian Mob’s main office, and they look PISSED. Apparently Harvey never answered their phone call, so they didn’t make the deal to unload a whole bunch shipload of tractors and cranes. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from this show, it’s that there was a lot of stolen stuff for sale during the Clinton administration.
So, while waiting for Harvey’s wife Bonnie to return home so they can give her the bad news (Harvey has a wife? Why does he call all those sex chat lines then?) Cheech begins to suspect that Harvey’s house is a little too nice for his government salary. That red herring lasts for literally three seconds before Cheech uses it as an excuse to describe his latest money making scheme, which will allow him to double an investment of fifty thousand dollars. “Foolproof,” he says. “You’re an idiot,” says Nash. (I’m paraphrasing.)
But Bonnie is pretty useless as a witness. She insists nothing unusual has happened around the house in the past few days. There is absolutely nothing unusual about keeping an entire room as a shrine to a dead hippie:
So 150 Grateful Dead ticket stubs are missing. We have another mystery on our hands! (I mean, besides the one about how you find time to go 150 Grateful Dead shows while becoming a detective.) And Cheech – that guy never lets up – Cheech still suspects Bonnie, but a quick search in the computer database on turns up one arrest:
Indecent Exposure in ’92. An arrest which (curiously enough) is not related to a Grateful Dead show, but something she picked up when the cops raided a private club where she was giving lap dances. The handy computer system also knows she used to work at a place called “Tyrone’s Classy Lady” and “The Love Bubble.” They just don’t name strip joints like they used to.
Meanwhile, ever-diligent Evan Cortez has some info on the Russians, they’re having a fire sale and unloading the stolen goods to the Japanese. Oh and Bryn (remember her?) just found out that some of the stolen money has been spent on a jumpsuit that belonged to the late Elvis Presley at an antique store on Market and Franklin run by this guy:
Now Nash and Cheech have a warm trail, because the suit had some stains on it (presumably from popcorn butter) and Orville Redenbacher up there directed the Elvis impersonator/Grateful Dead fanboy-kidnapper to the best cleaner in all of Chinatown because of how this show is maybe a tiny bit racist, but not really enough to actually offend anyone. Either way, one smash cut and throwaway scene later and we know the suit will be ready “tomorrow! after 10 o’clock!”
Skip to this Elvis guy’s creepy Saw basement/makeup trailer where Harvey may be tied to a pipe, but his indomitable can never be restrained. We know this because of how he still finds a way to drop hot word napalm on Elvis, who is also his brother-in-law. We still don’t know what he’s planning on doing with the money, but we do know he’s also sent that off to be laundered. (OH THE PUNMANITY!)
So Nash and Cheech’s new plan of attack is to stake out the Chinese Laundry in the morning, grab anybody going in that looks like Elvis, and “beat the crap out of them.” More proof that being a detective in San Francisco is just like being in High School.
Some other major plot points that barely seem worth discussing: Cheech’s golden investment opportunity involves buying a bar in the Tenderloin at a low auction price because it was recently seized by the ATF, and then flipping it for double what he paid for it. Oh and Nick Bridges has escaped from the nursing home again.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant AJ along with Cortez and the Nash Bridges Backup Dancers divert the incoming Yakuza boss by convincing him the meeting has moved to Carmel and putting him in a limo they borrowed from Cortez’s buddy. I bet most high-ranking Yakuza bosses will just get into any limo that a Japanese guy tells them to. Especially when they’re on foreign soil. Mob bosses are always very trusting people like that.
Meanwhile, we’ve got a Dirty Harry situation in Elvis’ basement/green room. Harvey has managed to pull a phone to his person so he can make a call, but of course 911 is busy, so he figures he’ll just call Nash’s house to ask for a ride home. Perfect plan that will really save Nash a lot of work and I bet he’ll be happy he doesn’t have to think to hard for the rest of the day, except – whoops! You’ve got Nick Bridges on the line and he’s got Alzheimer’s:
So Nick didn’t escape from the old folks’ home, he got kicked out for having old people sex with a woman at the home named Charlotte Drennings who is in her late 60’s, but she “still puts off those pheromones.” TMI, Nick!
He does want to make sure everyone is clear that he actually “wooed the lady” by smuggling in some Cold Duck and putting on cologne – this wasn’t some “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” kinda operation. Nope, see the problem came when he accidentally broke her hip mid-coitus. Wamp wwaaaamp.
No sooner is this beautiful love story out of Nick’s mouth than another officer, who’s a big fan of Nash’s work comes walking through the door gaping hole where the door should be to arrest Nick because a woman at the home has filed a complaint against him. As Nick gets carted off downtown, he remembers that he’ll finishing fixing the leaky tub when he gets back. Wait – leak? …Leek? Harvey Leek! Oh Yeah, Harvey called and said something was important, but Nick can’t remember what…
It’s not really a big deal though, because he’s out of jail and meeting Nash at the station in less than 20 minutes. That kind of seems like a waste of taxpayer dollars, if you ask me. Also, Elvis-looking jumpsuit guy picked up his ridiculous outfit from the cleaner’s already. He didn’t even wait to get it cleaned! But he did say he was headed to some place called Rodney’s, presumably a strip club.
Back at the sting operation, AJ is putting on his best (worst!) Japanese accent while Cortez cracks jokes about the Marx brothers because he’s not funny and they’ve already crushed three bottles of vodka and they ordered some hookers to come over with ping pong paddles.
Over at Rodney’s, even Nash’s VIP status can’t get any info out of the hostess Ginger, but maybe that $50 bill he found growing behind her ear can! (Also: Gross, you’ve got to scrub back there, Ginger.)
Now that Nash is leaning in a little closer and Ginger got all that gunk out of her ear, she remembers that Elvis’ real name is Aaron Crow and he’s the MC going on right now. So he could have just waited 30 seconds and saved himself 50 bucks.
But he senses trouble, bolts out the back and: “Elvis has left the building.” – Cheech Marin, 1996.
Nash’s “pornographic memory” comes in handy here because he remembers when Rodney’s used to be Tyrone’s Classy Lady: former employer of one Bonnie Leek. (Also, I’m extrapolating here, but has everyone at the station seen Harvey’s wife naked then?)
Back in his green room, Aaron “Elvis” Crow is pissed! He hates cops! He’s gonna kill everybody! He’s nuts! Jump to the sting operation and the Russians won’t seal the deal until AJ sings karaoke. So naturally, he puts on some Creedence:
Back at Bonnie’s, Cheech still thinks she’s connected to this whole thing – after all, she knew Harvey would have all that money, and she used to work with this guy Crow. But the truth will out and she admits crow is her brother-in-law, married to her stupid sister who is possibly even more nuts than Bonnie. Apparently they got drunk on margaritas the other night and Bonnie let slip that Harvey would be going undercover with 500 grand. OK, all the dots are connected now, except we still don’t know where Harvey is, but I’d be willing to bet it’s the same place where everyone will shoot each other in the face.
So Nash attempts to jog Nick’s memory with some clam chowder, which is apparently brain food? And getting memories out of an 80 year old man with Alzheimer’s is easier than just tracking down Bonnie’s stupid sister and asking where her husband is, I guess. Sure enough, after some free association with the only thing Nick can remember: “Wild Wild West” (which no one has said on this show ever) it suddenly hits him: Western Addition! He’s in the Western Addition!
AJ and Cortez wake up hungover from their party with the Russians thinking there’s an earthquake, only to find the Yakuza boss knocking at their door, demanding to know why he had to take such a nice long drive down to Carmel. Meanwhile, across town, Nash and Cheech set out to find a street in the Western Addition that has both a school and a factory on it. Which was surprisingly easy to find, and the lock on the door to Elvis’ basement was even easier to pick, because Nash used, “Magic!” (or a lockpick)
We did it, we found Harvey! Mystery solved! Some other crap happens with the sting – the Russians don’t trust AJ anymore, so they call Harvey back and he makes an EPIC BUST:
EPILOGUE: While I respect the attempt at exploring Harvey’s character for once, it’s not really effective because he doesn’t change at all. He just gets beat up and then he gets to bust the Russians, which also doesn’t help Nash’s track record. Cheech has a slight development, in that he now owns a bar in the Tenderloin because his business partner just had a heart attack and he doesn’t know who the other buyer was. Nick is off the hook because he proposed to Charlotte to get her lawyer son to drop the charges.
Essentially, everyone in this episode was reduced from their usual cartoon selves, down to only one dimension: The Chinese guy owns a laundry. The Japanese guy must love karaoke or he can’t be trusted. All the women are strippers or hookers. (Well, except Bryn but all she wants to do is order room service, so that’s not much better.) The Russians drink vodka and do shady black market deals. The white people are all drunken horndogs that are nuts for dead musicians. (Turns out Harvey took his Grateful Dead tickets to have them mounted on a Day-Glo Poster as a surprise for Bonnie.) Cheech makes jokes about eating eating bean burritos and farting. And just when I thought Nash was getting his swagger back after the “Javelin Catcher” incident, we’re left with a shot of him doing the dishes:
Next Week’s episode is titled: “Aloha Nash”, so I’m going to assume we’re headed to Hawaii. I love a good “interrupted vacation” episode!