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Series: The Commish

The Commish was a television series that aired on ABC in the United States from 1991 to 1996. The series focused on the work and home life of a suburban police commissioner in upstate New York.

The series starred Michael Chiklis as Tony Scali, a police commissioner in the small upstate New York town of Eastbridge, who worked through problems with humor and creativity more often than with violence or force. The show focused as much on Tony's family situation as on police drama. The series often dealt with a wide range of topical social issues such as racism, homophobia, drug addiction, disabilities, child abuse, illegal immigrants, and sexual harassment. The series lasted five years.

The Commish provides examples of:

  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: One episode had two police officers agonizing endlessly over the best way to break a death notice to a man's family, only to find they're overjoyed about his death.
  • Bald of Awesome: Tony
  • Crooked Contractor
  • Diplomatic Impunity: In "Sleep of the Just", the rapist was a diplomat. At one stage the police decide to harass him by ticketting for obscure and long-obsolete violations of the law, like sneezing in public (it frightens the horses).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: One episode involves a mob boss's son being killed in a police shootout. Tony's son David is then kidnapped. He's returned after the mob boss learns that two guys in his organization kidnapped him and the mob boss has them killed because he doesn't harm children.
  • Gender Misdirection: Done In-Universe, where Tony's new Number Two is a female but his wife doesn't realize that until she meets her, because Tony always refers to her as "Syd."
  • Happily Married: Tony
  • Inappropriate Hunger: The intro shows Tony snacking on pizza while eating a book titled ''Tissue Decomposition: A Homicide Primer".
  • Jail Bake: Tony gets jailed for Contempt of Court by a judge he suspects is on the take. He moves his office down to the cells and conducts business as usual. His wife comes by to check up on him and gives him a cake. She baked a file into it as a joke.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: The Commish was supposedly set on Long Island, but one Chase Scene showed the Rocky Mountains prominently in the background. (the show is in upstate New York in the Hudson Valley, which definitely has mountains; just nothing as impressive as the Rockies)
  • Mr. Smith: Spoofed. The coroner slides open a fridge labelled "John Doe" and is outraged to discover an illegally-shot doe the police commissioner is holding for evidence.
  • Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: In a dream episode set in an old crime-noir setting, the main character pulls a gun out of his pocket. To which, the femme fatale responds, "That was a gun? I thought you were just happy to see me!".
  • Playing Gertrude: Michael Chiklis was only 28 years old when the show began. It's implied that the character is closer to 40.
  • Rats In A Box: In this case the guilty party was the one who fell asleep in the prison cell (apparently Truth in Television as it was mentioned in the non-fiction book Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets. Based on the idea that the others don't know why they've been arrested, but the guilty party is resigned to the fact that he's been caught).
  • Razor Apples: There was an episode where someone was giving out poisoned candy, so Tony had his son go out trick-or-treating, which they then tested one piece at a time as it was gotten. Turned out it was a neighbor of Tony's.
  • Sex Slave: One episode has a 15 year old girl (who used to be the babysitter of the Commissioner's son) is forced into doing porno films. And pleasing the boss.
  • Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: Both subverted and played straight. Commissioner Scali and his Chief of Detectives are going undercover to gather evidence against a pornographer. At one point the pornographer reaches under his coat, the detective draws his gun shouting "Don't move!" only for it to be a cigar case. At the end of the episode they've no evidence against the pornographer, even though he indirectly caused the death of their friend's daughter. The pornographer is smirking at this, and reaches for a cigar to celebrate whereupon the detective shouts "Don't move!" and shoots him. Although the only other witness (a police officer who entered the room at that moment) backs up his statement that the criminal appeared to be reaching for a gun, Scali knows the truth and insists that the detective leave his department.
  • Spot the Imposter: The plot is used with twin brothers confessing to the same crime. The real murderer is uncovered because he's dyslexic, and when telling his brother about the crime he passed on his incorrect reading of a sign.
  • Stripper/Cop Confusion: One episode's teaser featured a gentleman who had ordered a prostitute dressed for a cop, waiting to meet her in a hotel lobby. He encounters a real (female) cop instead. We never get to see the payoff - roll opening credits and commercial; when the episode 'proper' starts, we get a glimpse of him handcuffed to a chair in the booking area as the camera pans by.
  • Vigilante Man: Desconstructed. One episode features a vigilante who tapes his acts and sends them to the press. At first, his actions are relatively innocuous (running criminals off the road, then humiliating them), and even the cops are cheering him on. Commissioner Tony, however, thinks the guy is bad news. He's proven correct later when the police arrest a man for a brutal rape/murder, then release him after realizing he's innocent. The vigilante, wrongly believing the innocent man got Off on a Technicality, goes to the guy's home and clubs him to death. The vigilante then becomes the cops' target for the rest of the episode.
  • "You're Not My Type": One of the officers is outed as gay and the others start giving him a hard time. At one point he says, "What, are you afraid I'm gonna come on to you? News flash, you're not my type."
  • You Would Make a Great Model: There is an episode with a professional photographer who works for a couple of questionable papers which require shots of underage (though not child: ages 14-18) models. What many find too late: he also works for a child porn ring. The girl who used to babysit the Commissioner's son is among the victims...

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alternative title(s): The Commish
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