“Third Watch” — Season 1

By Jae-Ha Kim
Amazon.com

Equal parts ER, Rescue Me, and Law & Order, Third Watch received critical raves when it premiered in 1999 on NBC.

All 22 episodes from that first season are included in this 6-disc box set, and the episodes (many of which reflect political issues of the time) stand up well. The third watch refers to the 3 to 11 p.m. shift of firefighters, police officers and paramedics who risk their lives to keep New Yorkers safe.

The show focuses on the lives of a handful of characters who are complicated, flawed, and charismatic. Kim Raver (24) shines as Kim, a paramedic who shares a strong bond with both her partner Bobby (Bobby Cannavale) as well as her ex-husband Jimmy (Eddie Cibrian), a firefighter with a predilection for gambling who clearly isn’t over Kim.

Created by John Wells (ER, The West Wing) and Edward Allen Bernero (Criminal Minds), Third Watch is well written and paces the storylines well.

The episodes’ endings reflect that not every case is easily solved and that there are unpleasant consequences involved in protecting the rights that many of us take for granted.

None of the main characters are presented as over-the-top heroes, but rather as hardworking people doing the best they can. The show at times goes out of its way to depict how flawed some of them are, but the actors deftly draw the focus back to the bigger picture–how to protect people who seem intent on self-destruction.

Through the first season, the characters will face addiction, heartbreak, and fear.

The one thing that dates the show is the full frame presentation, which belies its era. The special features aren’t particularly noteworthy–there’s a blooper reel and a “making of” featurette, but no deleted scenes or audio commentary on any of the episodes.

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