This episode is interesting in terms of what is going on in the rest of television. Harvey's reflective comment on how his counterculture generation has changed at the end of "Gimme Shelter" resonates:
"...if somebody told me 25 years ago that I'd be wearing a badge and I just had to arrest this dude for conspiracy to commit murder...I'd told them they were stoned, insane, or both." There was a DATELINE special (on right before this evening's NASH BRIDGES) on what Tom Brokaw calls "The Greatest Generation," Brokaw's look at the World War II generation that overcame harsh challenges, became leaders and responsible citizens, and in short, formed the core of American values that shape us today. How can succeeding generations compare in this shadow of greatness?
If "The Greatest Generation" built the foundation for the prosperity that we now enjoy, then the Sixties Generation can be said to have pissed it away on sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. The Sixties generation didn't go off dutifully and fight a just war; they rebelliously refused to fight in an unjust war. They sought free love and experimented with drugs; they lived alternative lifestyles. In short, they shunned all the things that "The Greatest Generation" built. People in their forties that identify with this generation (like Harvey, Nash, and especially Joe) are now experiencing a revisionist reversal of values. They now fear the next generation which is seemingly even wilder and more valueless than their own excessive generation.
The Fagin-like story of a counterculture adult figure (Bobby Shack) leading youth like Kenny and Justin astray is given a 90s twist - in the 90s all things are done for enormous profit. Kenny is a juvenile, which means he can do anything and have a clean record until he reaches the age of sixteen. Though Kenny is not a killer like Justin, Kenny is involved in a multiple murder plot (including the death of his stepfather), and yet he is not condemned by a sympathetic Nash. Kenny's level of involvement in evil is not made clear; he retains the innocence of youth. He is sent home to his mommy; her enormous wealth will presumably protect him and grant him extra privileges. Small wonder each succeeding generation is going incrementally on the highway to hell. Additionally, Harvey turns an incredibly young black child (attempting to steal his car) into an informant. The counterculture revisionism is complete when Harvey goes to arrest Bobby Shack. The fact that Joe is excluded from this storyline is a further disappointing gutting of the counterculture; for Joe (played by Cheech Marin) was one of the principle clowns of the counterculture in the comedy team of Cheech and Chong. He's still considered lightweight compared to Harvey and Nash.
Nash is further revised also; he's not the Sixties sexual hedonist we
thought he was. The 1997 film AUSTIN POWERS made nostalgic fun of Sixties
sexuality by referring to it as "shagging." But Nash is not the shagger
Austin Powers is. Nash turns down the French babe Lucy; and he's definitely
not the sexual predator like the artist Andrew Story. We see Nash/Don
Johnson in a different light in "Gimme Shelter" - this is closer to the
Nash/Don Johnson we read about in the society columns, the smooth operator,
the A-list party-goer comfortable in every kind of social gathering. He
lives the good life with relish, just like the fine wine that a grateful
Caitlin gives him. It's entirely appropriate that Nash has no regret for his
Sixties indulgences, just like the current President of his generation that
expects no serious consequences for his indulgences.
For more, see synopsis for Episode 67