By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
THIRD WATCH, ANOTHER INTERWEAVING MULTIthread soap from NBC -- and co-created by ER producer John Wells, who co-produces The West Wing as well -- is also about people who love their (in this case dark-blue-collar) jobs. "Hot damn," exults lean, keen NYFD paramedic Kim Raver as she and a truckload of hunky firemen head off to another big-city disaster, "I love this job." Could that be any plainer? Elsewhere on the not yet completely safe streets of Manhattan, hothead cop Jason Wiles puts pedal to the metal and lifts his voice in praise of his gun, his siren and his tank full of city-bought gas. As in The West Wing, everyone rubs someone the wrong way; there are staglike rivalries, disagreements about choices in love and approaches to work, arguments over parking spaces and who gets the free meat from a grateful butcher, and some extremely immature pranks, some of which I plan to try or I would repeat them here. Unlike The West Wing, its dramatis personae -- comprising four (4) police officers, one (1) of them a woman, four (4) paramedics, one (1) of them a woman, and one (1) fireman -- was conceived as a rainbow coalition from the start. And with a lot of good-looking bodies onscreen and techno music pulsing beneath the action, it seems to want to say: Young people, come on!This show is hot!
The title refers to the shift that lasts from 3 to 11 p.m., a chronometric detail that, while possibly exotic to viewers who have only ever worked from 9 to 5, has no dramatic import whatsoever on this program. The salient high concept is the competitive intertwining of municipal services -- the police station and firehouse are across the street from each other -- necessary to keep Gothamites safe from themselves and each other. In a honey-roasted nutshell, it applies the gloss of ER and the grit of New York locations -- most of the show takes place outdoors -- to a melding of Jack Webb's Adam 12 and Emergency!, whose Randolph Mantooth has been paid homage in the naming of the firehouse Dalmatian. There is some disagreeable low comedy involving vomit, and "stepping in dead guy," and a dismaying "oops" when a ledge jumper slips out of a policeman's grasp -- an incident put out of mind in the space of a commercial; I'm not sure even New York cops are that hard. And you will have seen much, oh very much, of this before, since there are only so many ways to chase down a suspect, deliver a premature baby or put out a fire, and the shot-partner-in-the-hospital and eager-rookie/irregular-vet routines reprised here have long since been worn down to nothing. But an attractive, believable cast, and good use of the less manicured reaches of the city that never sleeps -- and how can it with those damn sirens blowing? -- make it convincing enough. Imperfect, like a president, but better than passable.
THE WEST WING | NBC | Wednesdays at 9 p.m.
THIRD WATCH | NBC | Sundays at 8 p.m.
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