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THIRD WATCH
Season One

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Michael Beach, Coby Bell, Bobby Cannavale, Eddie Cibrian, Molly Price, Kim Raver, Anthony Ruivivar, Skipp Sudduth, Jason Wiles
Creators: Edward Allen Bernero, John Wells
Audio: Dolby Surround
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 946 Minutes
Release Date: February 5, 2008

“Hot damn, I love this job.”

Shows ***1/2

NBC may have initially conceived the semi-medical drama Third Watch as an ER companion piece, as both shows carried the same producers, but what the network ended up with was a stronger series. And I, for one, have waited for this show’s DVD debut for a long, long time. I think we have a good idea of what will be topping the “I’m Glad This Finally Made DVD” category at this year’s DMC Awards.

Third Watch is a show combined of many elements of previous shows, but those elements blend to make a series that is equally original and exciting. There have been many TV series about cops, paramedics and firemen, but this is the first series to depict a unit specifically made up of all three departments. And best of all, it’s not a cornball show like many shows of its kind have been in the past. Third Watch serves as both an excellent action series and a show with top-notch character driven drama.

The show debuted in the fall of 1999 and enjoyed a steady six-season run. I got into the show once it became syndicated and episodes began airing daily on A&E. Despite its impressive run, I think the show should still be on the air. I had never seen much of the first season, which is indeed a stellar start off for such a thrilling show.

The title of the show refers to the shift that runs between 3pm and 11pm. Each episode follows the daily exploits of the men and women of the 55th Precinct, which is known as Camelot. The precinct houses cops, firemen and paramedics who work together whenever an emergency call is made.

What’s even more intriguing to note is that the Third Watch shift is entirely fictionalized. So while authenticity may not be such a huge factor here, the idea of multiple units working together at the scene of a horrendous accident, fire or crime is supremely intriguing. And as far as action scenes go, Third Watch offers up some of the best ever to be seen on television.

Within each unit, we are given sets of extremely well developed characters that we care about almost instantly, in addition to cheering them on for their true heroics. In the paramedic division, seasoned ambulance paramedic Monte “Doc” Parker (Michael Beach) is saddled with rookie Carlos Nieto (Anthony Ruivivar). We also follow another set of paramedics, Bobby Caffey (Bobby Cannavale) and Kim Zabrano (Kim Raver).

The fire department’s key representation is Jimmy Doherty (Eddie Cibrian). One of the complicated matters within the workplace is that Jimmy and Kim have recently been divorced and share custody of their child. But they still remain as friendly as can be as the frequent emergency calls don’t allow much time for them to indulge in bitter arguments.

And we follow two sets of paired cops. The first is veteran cop John “Sully” Sullivan (Skipp Sudduth) whose new partner, rookie cop Ty Davis (Coby Bell), happens to be the son of a cop he knew very well. The other set of cops, and my personal favorite characters of the show, are Faith Yokas (Molly Price) and Maurice “Bosco” Boscorelli (Jason Wiles).

Third Watch was certainly one of the edgier shows to come along at the time it aired. The action is a bit more intense, the language is at times rougher than you’d might expect for a regular network series. Of course by this point, the envelope pushing elements of NYPD Blue had allowed other shows to get away with a bit more, especially shows that aired at a 10pm time slot.

If you’ve never been able to catch a single episode of Third Watch, now is the absolute best chance to discover one of the strongest network series of recent memory. It’s as tense, riveting and dramatically satisfying a show as one could ever ask for. Not to mention it provides a dynamic portrait of the real life heroes who serve us everyday.

Video ***

This Warner presentation delivers the series as originally aired in its Full Screen format. The picture quality is actually quite strong, with no real visual distractions of any kind. The show eventually converted to widescreen format late in its run, but for now I can certainly say that this presentation of Season One is as perfect as can be.

Audio ***1/2

The 2.0 mix delivers better than you’d might expect. First off, any fan of the show always waits for the theme song, “Keep Hope Alive” by The Crystal Method to kick in, and it has never sounded more incredible. The action scenes play off extremely well too, and dialogue delivery is right on the mark.

Features **

I was hoping for a bit more in this department, but at least this Season One package isn’t a bare bones release. Included is a behind the scenes featurette titled “The Nights of Camelot” and a very funny Gag Reel.

Summary:

Third Watch fans can now rejoice, as the series has finally made it to DVD after a extremely long wait. The show maybe gone, but it now lives on in DVD world, and I can’t wait for the next seasons to be released!

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