This is the last series in our Crime Drama November. When the pandemic was in full force, my husband and I watched a lot more television than we did before. One of the shows that we watched more of was Nash Bridges. While technology and clothing can always date a show, these shows held up very well. We never felt like we were time traveling. I decided to learn a bit more about it this month as we rediscover some of our favorite shows.
The show was produced by the Don Johnson Company and Carlton Cuse Productions in association with Rysher Entertainment for the first four seasons, and then Paramount Network Television acquired Rysher and was part of the mix. Don Johnson starred in the show as Nash Bridges along with his sidekick Joe Dominguez (Cheech Marin).
The show was on CBS for six seasons from 1996 to 2001. The introductory episode was written by Don Johnson and author Hunter S. Thompson. You can see Thompson in the pilot as a piano player.
Bridges and Dominguez were police officers with the San Francisco Police Department, working under the Special Investigations Unit. Nash is divorced and is good friends with his ex-wife Lisa (Annette O’Toole); they often hang out and talk about getting back together on and off during the show. They have a daughter who is a teenager when the show begins (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe); in later seasons, she works with her father. Nash’s father Nick (James Gammon) moves in with him partway through the series. Nash refers to everyone as “Bubba” or “Sister.” Nash had a lot of romantic relationships during the series, including a two-season one with Yasmine Bleeth as detective Caitlin Cross.
Dominguez comes back after retiring to be Nash’s partner; he is married and they have a child during the run of the show. Nash and Dominguez work with Harvey Leek (Jeff Perry) and Evan Cortez (Jaime Gomez).
Nash’s pride and joy is a 1971 Plymouth Barracuda convertible, which had been his brother’s car before he was sent to Vietnam.
The investigators worked in a very interesting place. Their work space was a 177-foot floating vessel. The producers paid $175,000 for the working barge used in Seattle; they then put $1.1 million into adding a three-story glass and steel structure for the new set. When the show was canceled, the producers bought it for about $400,000. They planned to rent out the 11,000 square-foot set for movie shoots, videos, and parties. It can easily be used for a houseboat, factory, oil rig, or open-air restaurant.
Nash Bridges did well in ratings during its time on the air. The sixth season, the show was up against Law & Order: SVU. Paramount decided that $2 million dollars an episode was too much to pay for the show so they canceled it. It might have ended anyway, though, because Johnson was ready to be done. There were enough episodes for syndication, so Johnson continued to earn money from the show after it ended.
A year or so ago, USA Network featured Johnson, Marin, and Perry in a two-hour movie. Nash and Perry come back to help SIU crack a serial killer case. Nash convinces Dominguez to serve as a consultant from time to time. The movie left it open for a new series to begin with the team solving cases.
If you want to learn a bit more about what was going on behind the scenes, there are some fun options for you. Seasons one and two DVD sets include a Roundtable Discussion by the writers. On February 4, 2015, the Film Score featured a general discussion with Eddie Jboson, Velton Ray Bunch, and others about the music on the show (https://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=108116&forumID=1&archive=0).
Most fans seemed to enjoy the show, although the recent movie got mixed ratings. The show seems to have it all: two very different but close partners solve interesting crime cases while riding around in a really cool car and there are a lot of heartwarming scenes and humorous moments packed into the action. What’s not to like?