The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Friday, November 19, 2004  

Suggestions for Next Week's Reader Poll

Okay, so your lack of awareness, and at the time my own, led to the abrupt and premature cancellation of "My So Called Life," among the very best series ever produced for American television. Too few episodes remain extant, I know, but let's move beyond that and allow me to recommend to you the best television show you're (probably) not watching: "Third Watch."

"Third Watch" appears on NBC on Friday nights at 9:00 p.m., and the show is in syndication on A&E at 5:00 p.m. (both times Eastern).

To be honest, I like the older episodes better, if only for the superior eye candy, personified by Bobby Cannavale as Roberto "Bobby" Caffey, Eddie Cibrian portraying Jimmy Doherty, and Michael Beach in the role of Monte "Doc" Parker.

Of course, the remnants of the original cast are something nothing to shake a stick at: Jason Wiles as Maurice "Bosco" Boscorelli, Anthony Ruivivar as Carlos Nieto, and Coby Bell as Ty Davis. And then there's a recent addition to the ensemble, Josh Stewart, who plays Brendan Finney.

Now, just to be fair to the other side, there's Tia Texada (Maritza Cruz), Kim Raver (Kim Zambrano), and Nia Long (Sasha Monroe), none of whom is harming anyone's vision.

Stepping up from my customary shallowness, let me extend my appreciation to every other actor on the series, include those known as or considered "character actors," including, or especially, the incomparably talented Molly Price and Skip Sudduth.

You should know that I've not normally watched a great deal of prime-time network television during my adult life, recent viewing patterns notwithstanding. The number and names of popular series of which I've seen not a single episode would likely surprise you. (Such a list would include "L.A. Law," "Thirtysomething," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Star Trek," and countless others.) As such, you might take my observations about "Third Watch" with a grain of proverbial salt. I wouldn't blame you.

Still, may I say that what strikes me most about "Third Watch," and more specifically about the ensemble cast, is that it looks, or they look, collectively, very much like the world in which I live and have lived for the past 20 years in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. Better, the writers put the cast's -- the characters' -- diversity out there every week with virtually no self-consciousness, no unnecessary commentary on the matter.

Racial and ethnic tensions make for great, if contrived, drama. They also make for great fodder for misguided and misinformed pundits whose lives are constituted of little beyond hours at the home office and cocktail parties with other rich white poeple. No wonder those who don't live in places like Washington, New York, and Philadelphia -- or the highly protected outposts or inposts therein -- are so ignorant of the real world, that great place where "people like me" live well and happily aside "people like them."

(If you've read this far let me ask you for a favor. I'd like to post a weekly Rittenhouse reader poll on the subject of "the best television series you're not watching." Please send your nominations to The Rittenhouse Review as soon as possible. Thank you in advance for your assistance with and participation in this project.)


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