Third Watch - the Complete First Season
Warner Bros. // Unrated // $59.98 // February 5, 2008
Review by John Crichton | posted March 18, 2008
Highly Recommended
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"Because I said so."

No, that's not a quote from Third Watch. It's my usual response when someone questions a (CDs/flick/insert your choice of medium here) that i've just recommended. I usually end up trying to explain why they should just take my word for it, but unfortunately, if I were to use that reason to quantify exactly why I consider Third Watch: the Complete First Season a highly recommended DVD, it would make for a very short and uninformative review.

Immediately coming off of his short-lived NBC series "Trinity", John Wells hooked up with Edward Allen Bernardo with the intention of focusing on some "blue class" working families. Instead of taking the easy way out and choosing to focus solely on law enforcement (which has been done thousands of times) or paramedics (which has been done hundreds of times) or on firefighters (which has been done...umm, a couple of times), they decided to combine the three, set it in New York City and...Voila!, a great show was born!

Third Watch follows the firefighters and paramedics of Station 55 and the police officers of the 55th Precinct - or "Camelot", as it's affectionately nicknamed due to it's location on the corner of King and Arthur. The show gets off to a running start (literally!) and we're quickly introduced to Maurice 'Bosco' Boscorelli (Jason Wiles), an adrenaline junkie with a "act now, think later" philosophy to the job that gets him in trouble more often than not. His partner, Faith Yokas (Molly Price), does her best to rein him in as she deals with an alcoholic husband and two kids at home. Along with Bosco and Yokas, we also meet John 'Sully' Sullivan (Skipp Sudduth), a veteran cop who views the job as "solving problems" rather than "enforcing the law". Sully's partnered with Tyrone Davis, Jr. (Coby Bell), a wide-eyed rookie with a moral compass that always points north who just happens to be the son of his previous partner who was murdered on the job.

Across the street at Station 55 there's Kim Zambrano (Kim Raver), a paramedic dealing with raising her child, while having to work alongside her deadbeat ex, Jimmy Doherty (Eddie Cibrian), a firefighter who would rather drop his paycheck on the Giants for the spread instead of paying Kim some much-needed child support. Kim's partner, Bobby Caffey (Bobby Cannavale), has an ex-con for a brother and a crush on Kim. Rounding out the "main" cast of characters is Monte Parker (Michael Beach), who goes by the nickname "Doc" and newbie Carlos Nieto (Anthony Ruivivar). Doc and Carlos are two sides of the same coin; while Doc goes the extra mile for patients and is mindful of his responsibility to the community, Carlos is self-centered, egotistical, blunt and doesn't really care about people.

Disc One:
  • Welcome To Camelot - Police officers and paramedics rush between emergencies as each unit breaks in a new recruit: Ty, a rookie cop following in his father's footsteps, and Carlos, a former foster kid working toward medical school.
  • Anywhere But Here - Jerry survives surgery but remains comatose. Doherty gives ex-wife Kim a bulletproof vest. Doc and Carlos must rescue a man after an explosion. Bosco captures Jerry's attacker without firing a shot.
  • Patterns - After Bosco has sex in his squad car with the boss's daughter, his boss gets a videotape of it. Bobby and Kim argue heatedly. Doc brings Carlos along on a personal mission to locate the owner of a lost watch.
  • Hell Is What You Make Of It - Rookies Carlos and Davis experience disillusionment with their new jobs and their training officers. Bosco struggles with homophobia. A teenage junkie destroys Kim's faith in humanity, but Bobby restores it. 

Disc Two:

  • Responsible Parties - Mercy Hospital's new doctor reprimands Yokas, Bobby and Kim. Yokas acts like a vigilante to punish a gang leader. Jerry decides not to return to work.
  • Sunny, Like Sunshine - Bobby visits his older brother in prison and tries to express his feelings to Kim. Davis and Sully's working relationship improves, but Doc and Carlos get into a fistfight. Yokas tells Bosco not to lie for her.
  • Impulse - Bosco brutalizes a murder suspect. Sully goes to a movie with Davis' mother. Carlos attempts to revive a premature fetus whose mother he accidentally injured. Bobby welcomes his brother home from prison.
  • History Of the World - On Thanksgiving Day, Bosco tries to resolve a family conflict in a restaurant, while Yokas attempts the same at home. Bobby's mother will not allow her son Matty to attend the family's holiday celebration. Davis will not perjure himself to support Sully.

Disc Three:

  • Demolition Derby - An explosion traps members of a demolition team in a collapsing building - and the third watch must respond. Fred Yokas' drinking esclates. Doc cancels his date with Brenda.
  • Modern Designs From Better Living - Davis inadvertently endangers a youth he's trying to help. Doc learns that his father's drug overdose was not accidental. The combined effort of police, paramedics and firefighters is required to get an extremely obese woman to the hospital.
  • Alone In A Crowd - An illegally parked car delays the firefighters, causing a woman's death. Western medicine kills Doc and Carlos' Chinese patient. The suicide of his first partner causes Sully to reflect on his own life. 

Disc Four:

  • Journey To the Himalayas - Davis learns of his father's corruption. Matty gets into trouble while trying to apologize to a former girlfriend. Bobby finds his brother covered in someone else's blood. Yokas and Bosco help a mentally retarded 15-year-old girl who has had consensual sex with her older, retarded boyfriend. And Doc and Morales tentatively begin a romance.
  • This Band Of Brothers - Candyman risks his life for Davis. Matty hides from the police. Bobby and Kim get closer. Carlos is upset about Doc's relationship with Morales. Yokas is enraged by Bosco's treatment of a wounded thief.
  • 32 Bullets And A Broken Heart - A gunman targets gay men. Faith arrests her husband for driving while drunk. Another attempt by Davis to help Malcolm impresses attorney Ada Gail Moore. Kim tells Bobby that sex with him was a mistake. A grateful patient invites Carlos to make love.
  • Officer Involved - Davis shoots an innocent man. Tensions escalate between partners Bosco and Yokas. Kim wonders about Bobby and Treva's relationship. Doherty reveals he's dating a cop. Carlos questions Vangie's sanity.

Disc Five:

  • Nature Or Nurture - Doc and Carlos' good deed gets a young boy killed. An off-duty Bosco robs would-be robbers. Doherty faces serious consequences for his gambling losses and endangers his son.
  • Ohio - Stuck in a hotel kitchen and garage for long hours as they baby-sit a senatorial debate, the cops debate politics and the paramedics recall the worst thing they have ever seen on the job.
  • Men - Candyman returns to work - and his old habits. Doc goes to extremes to save his dying father. Doherty promises an injured factory worker that his legs will not be amputated.
  • Spring Forward, Fall Back - Police mount a massive search when a toddler disappears from the scene of a traffic accident. Violence follows Sully's encounter with his former priest. Carlos is going to be a father...and Doc is disgusted. Morales and Doc plan their next move.

Disc Six:

  • A Thousand Points Of Light - Two abused boys lie about a motel fire in which their mother dies. Davis helps Malcolm again. Carlos suggests that Vangie not have the baby. Doc and Morales find a home.
  • Just Another Night At the Opera - Bobby saves a carjacker trapped inside a burning auto. Vangie complains to Carlos' superiors. Davis inadvertently foils an investigation of Candyman for corruption. Bobby hears that Matty is panhandling. In formal attire. Bosco attends the opera with Nicole.
  • Young Men And Fire - Doherty has a chilling encounter with an ex-fireman. Yokas is pregnant. Morales and Doc get settled in their apartment. Davis celebrates his one-year anniversary on the police force.

Special Features: The first special feature, the Nights Of Camelot retrospective featurette, is 16 minutes of reminiscing and interviews with series creators John Wells and Edward Allen Bernardo, and cast members Skipp Sudduth, Anthony Ruivivar, Jason Wiles, Michael Beach, Coby Bell and Lisa Vidal. In addition to sharing their memories about working on the show, we also learn some interesting trivia such as the network hated Skip in the role of Sully (further proof that most network execs have no clue what they're doing) and that Bosco was written on the page as "6'4, 250 pounds of muscle, frustration and attitude". Honestly, the 16 minutes fly by with a quickness, and the way the featurette was put together, i'm hoping it's part of a longer documentary that Warner Brothers is spreading across the following five season sets. We're also given an 8 minute gag reel.

I'd also like to point out that almost all of the episodes begin with the "Previously On..." tag. Curiously, some episodes also contain a "Tonight On..." tag. Also, i'm not sure if it's a glitch with the review copy, but the episodes "Demolition Derby" and "Modern Designs From Better Living" have been authored out of order on disc three.

Packaging: The 22 episodes are spread across six single-sided, dual-layered DVDs and are packaged in a three double-disc thinpak cases which are housed in a cardboard slipcover.

Audio: The original Dolby Digital 2.0 track was adequate, though it would've been nice to have greater separation of the sound effect elements during the show's many action sequences. And though the show has been off the air for close to three years now, it's been on DVD in Japan and Australia for close two. There were many assumptions made as to what the delay was here in the US, and one of the most popular conclusions was the ever-popular "music rights" issues. Now, I don't know if those other region sets had some of the original music replaced, but i'm happy to report that the episodes contain every. single. song. as it was originally recorded, by the original artist that recorded it. Sorry, but the whole practice of replacing music in episodic television is a pet peeve of mine. I'm glad to see WB has done the right thing by the fans. There's also an option for English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Video: While the video wasn't as sharp as I would've liked it (i'm an HD whore so, ideally, 1080i would've been nice), the only problem I had with the full-frame, 1.33:1 transfer was the occasional "haloing" which was noticeable during the scenes taking place in burning buildings. However, I should point out that this was viewed using an Oppo up-converting player on a 58" Panasonic plasma, so make of that what you will.

Final Thoughts: Third Watch has one of the strongest debut seasons of any television show i've seen. There are tons of action sequences to get your adrenaline flowing, lots of comedy (usually involving Bosco) and some poignant moments, such as Doc dealing with his elderly father (Ossie Davis) who's tired of living or watching as Sully comes to the realization that life has passed him by and the job is the only thing he has. Trust me on this, Third Watch: the Complete First Season is a Highly Recommended set. Why's that, you ask? Because I said so.

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