Here’s a weekly drama about the lovable police commissioner of a fictitious East Coast suburban town. The way Michael Chiklis (Wired) plays him, this commish, Tony Scali, is the authority figure of your dreams — honest, enthusiastic, strong, imaginative. When two of his officers bring in an uncooperative suspect who Scali thinks might be innocent,the commissioner becomes chummy and confiding: ”Hey, I’ll bet this is the closest you’ve come to a police station since Hill Street went off the air,” he says with a grin. Scali wins the guy over, the fellow tells his story, and you know what? Turns out ol’ Tony was right.
It’s clear that Commish executive producers Stephen J. Cannell and Stephen Kronish — who also worked on Wiseguy — want to tap into the frustration we all feel about so many of the rude, overworked bureaucrats and public officials we encounter in our lives. But Cannell and Kronish go overboard: Chiklis’ Scali is such a happy saint that he verges on the insufferable — no one can be this generous, this clever, this jolly.
Scali is the role of a lifetime, which Chiklis performs with wide-eyed abandon, leaving everyone else in the cast, including Theresa Saldana as his wife, in the proverbial dust. But, having established Scali’s glowing character, The Commish now needs less commish and more drama. C+