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This site is about the tv cop show Nash Bridges, starring Don Johnson, which aired on CBS with 122 episodes in 6 seasons. The series is currently syndicated in many television markets and is available on DVD.

 [The Original Unofficial NASH BRIDGES]

Dirty Joe
October 17, 1998

Gordon Hom

We were so caught up in the death of Michelle Chan last week we overlooked how the episode ended. A distraught Nash tells his SIU men to stay downstairs. On the roof, it's clear that the killer intends to give up (but he still has gun in hand). Alone with no witnesses, Nash outright kills the taunting Prowler, as the Prowler describes how Michelle begged for her life. The screen goes black as Nash walks forward, firing his gun.

This vigilante streak in Nash is nothing new. Nash has beaten a prisoner before (coincidentally enough, it was also for threatening Michelle) in "Most Wanted" episode #40. As a San Francisco cop, NASH BRIDGES follows in a San Francisco legend of lawless cops' footsteps. There was the rebel cop, the ultra-cool Steve McQueen in the 1968 police film BULLITT, in which a defiant McQueen tells pompous district attorney Robert Vaughn to shove it. The 1971 film DIRTY HARRY took it a step further by putting a psychotic spin on the vigilante cop. A ruthless Harry Callahan (played by Clint Eastwood, of course) shot suspects and then played mind games with them by having them guess how many bullets remained in his .44 Magnum revolver. Is it any wonder Nash follows in the same vein?

The pendulum swung to the extremes in those films, as it did in the "Hot Prowler" episode. Now it swings back towards center again in "Overdrive." Nash the vigilante, the killer of criminals, becomes the savior of the wrongly convicted. Nash helps the lowest of the underdogs (a tried and convicted man sentenced to die by lethal injection in 14 hours) get a stay of execution and ultimately, a release. From one episode to the next, NASH BRIDGES washes itself clean. "Overdrive" smoothes over the lawless cop opened up by the death of a fellow officer. The distinction is made that Nash is not out to kill criminals (like he did in "Hot Prowler") - Nash is out for justice, and to right wrongs - even if those wrongs are made by his family, sister Stacy, the prosecuting attorney on the case.

This contrast is neatly turned upside down in Joe's backstory. Joe turns vigilante defending daughter Lucia's misbehavior. Joe bops Philip in the eye and breaks his trophy. Whereas Nash resolves Carl Pine's dilemma by freeing him from a death sentence and reuniting him with his family, Joe's story ends sleazily with Joe walking in on Philip Tremain having sex with his secretary. The contrast between Nash's honorable ways and Joe's under the table ways couldn't be more apparent. With Joe also in a state of urination throughout the episode, it's an appropriate resolution as we see the secretary's large breasts swinging in her brassiere as she runs out of the office, embarrassed. It's not DIRTY HARRY, it's Dirty Joe.

* For more, see synopsis for Episode 58


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