The Commish

Last updated
The Commish
The Commish title screen.jpg
Genre Comedy-drama
Created by
Theme music composer Mike Post
Composer Walter Murphy
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes94 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Stephen J. Cannell
  • Stephen Kronish
  • David Levinson
Running time46 minutes per episode
Production companies
Distributor Cannell Distribution
Original network ABC
Original releaseSeptember 28, 1991 (1991-09-28) 
January 11, 1996 (1996-01-11)

The Commish is an American comedy-drama television series that aired on ABC in the United States from September 28, 1991, to January 11, 1996. The series focuses on the work and home life of a suburban police commissioner in upstate New York.



The series stars Michael Chiklis as Anthony J. "Tony" Scali, a former NYPD detective who is now the police commissioner in the small fictional upstate New York town of Eastbridge, and tends to work through problems with humor and creativity more often than with violence or force. Theresa Saldana plays Rachel Scali (née Metzger), Tony's wife, and Kaj-Erik Eriksen plays their young son, David. Also living with the family in the first season was Rachel's freeloading brother, Arnie Metzger, played by David Paymer. A daughter, Sarah, played by twins Justine and Dayna Cornborough, was born to Tony and Rachel in the second season. The show focused on family situations as well as police drama. The series deals with a wide range of topical social issues such as police corruption, racism, homophobia, drug addiction, disabilities, child abuse, illegal immigration, and sexual harassment.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 22September 28, 1991 (1991-09-28)May 16, 1992 (1992-05-16)
2 22September 26, 1992 (1992-09-26)May 15, 1993 (1993-05-15)
3 22September 25, 1993 (1993-09-25)May 14, 1994 (1994-05-14)
4 22September 24, 1994 (1994-09-24)May 20, 1995 (1995-05-20)
5 6November 30, 1995 (1995-11-30)January 11, 1996 (1996-01-11)


In addition to Commissioner Scali's family, the cast included police working for the town of Eastbridge.

Commissioner Scali had three different lieutenants at his precinct during the run; Lt. Irving Wallerstein (Alex Bruhanski), his longtime buddy and second-in-command, was killed in the line of duty after only a few episodes and was replaced by Lt. Paulie Pentangeli (John Cygan), his childhood best friend. At the start of the second season, Pentangeli shot an unarmed suspect who was reaching for a cigarette case.

Although cleared of wrongdoing, Scali nonetheless fired him, suspecting that Pentangeli knowingly shot the suspect on whom they had insufficient evidence to prosecute. Pentangeli had said that it felt like real police work. He was replaced by a female lieutenant, elegant former FBI agent Cyd Madison (Melinda McGraw). She continued through to the end of season three until jean-wearing Pentageli (John Cygan) returned to the series at the start of season four. Madison left the Eastbridge department to work as a commissioner in another city. Pentangeli returned despite his continuing disagreement with Scali regarding the nature of the shooting in season two.

The star cops who also worked closely with Scali included Stan Kelly (Geoffrey Nauffts), Carmela Pagan (Gina Belafonte), and hot-headed Ricky Caruso (Nicholas Lea). Series regular Kelly was killed off at the end of season three, whereas other characters such as Pagan would simply disappear for longer stretches without explanation.


Chiklis's character, Tony Scali, was at least ten years older than Chiklis' age at the time. At one point, the network worried that Chiklis's weight loss would have an effect on the ratings and reportedly asked him to stuff his clothing. He also was encouraged to not shave his head to look still older.

Although set in the fictional town of Eastbridge in the Hudson Valley, New York, the show was filmed in and around Vancouver, British Columbia.

The character Tony Scali was based on the real-life 30th Commissioner of New York City's Department of Correction, Anthony Schembri, the son of an Italian immigrant, who grew up in Brooklyn. [1] Schembri recalls incidents such as his deflecting a man intent on suicide from wanting to jumping off of a roof: “I asked him if he had a permit to jump off.” [1] This means of diversion was used in a series one episode and is typical of Scali’s way of working in the series. Schembri later served as the Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice under Governor Jeb Bush, as the Citrus County Florida County Administrator, and later still as an advisor to India’s Centre for Criminology and Public Policy Committee. [1]

Schembri was "discovered" after being a technical consultant for the TV series (while serving as the Police Commissioner of Rye, New York). The show was unrealistic in that Tony Scali the Police Commissioner, working as Schembri had done while he was a Brooklyn detective, would do many things a real-life police commissioner doesn't (such as personally chase criminals and investigate crimes).

Although this series aired on ABC, it was originally slated to be on CBS, but unresolved casting differences with CBS led Stephen J. Cannell to cease pre-production with that network. Eventually, Cannell took the series to ABC and it won the ratings war with CBS for that time slot (Saturday nights at 10pm).

Home media

Anchor Bay Entertainment released the first two seasons of The Commish on DVD in Region 1 in 2004–2005. [2] [3] Because of poor sales, these releases were discontinued and no further seasons were made available.

In 2009, Mill Creek Entertainment acquired the rights to several Stephen J. Cannell series, including The Commish. [4] They have subsequently re-released the first two seasons. [5] [6]

On October 12, 2010, Mill Creek released The Commish: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. The 17-disc set features all 94 episodes of the series on DVD for the very first time. [7]

In Region 4, Beyond Home Entertainment has released the first four seasons on DVD in Australia.

DVD NameEp #Release Dates
Region 1Region 4
The Complete First Season22November 16, 2004
March 9, 2010 (re-release)
July 16, 2008 [8]
The Complete Second Season22February 22, 2005
September 14, 2010 (re-release)
October 15, 2008 [9]
The Complete Third Season22N/AJune 10, 2009 [10]
The Complete Fourth Season22N/AOctober 7, 2009 [11]
The Complete Series94October 12, 2010N/A


Theresa Saldana received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in 1994.

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  1. 1 2 3 "Venice man appointed to law enforcement committee in India". Herald Tribune. 5 July 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  2. "The Commish DVD news: Press Release and Cover for 1st Season -". Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  3. "The Commish DVD news: Cover art for Feb.'s Season 2 Release -". Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  4. "Site News DVD news: Cannell and Mill Creek Ink New Distribution Deal -". Archived from the original on 14 February 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  5. "The Commish DVD news: Early Box Art for The Commish - Season 1 -". Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  6. "The Commish DVD news: Announcement for The Commish - The Complete 2nd Season (Mill Creek) -". Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  7. "The Commish DVD news: Announcement for The Commish - The Complete Series -". Archived from the original on 11 April 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  8. Commish, The – Complete 1st Season (6 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD. (2008-07-16). Retrieved on 2010-12-28.
  9. Commish, The – Complete 2nd Season (6 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD. (2008-10-15). Retrieved on 2010-12-28.
  10. Commish, The – Complete 3rd Season (6 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD Archived 2009-07-08 at the Wayback Machine . (2009-06-10). Retrieved on 2010-12-28.
  11. Commish, The – Complete 4th Season (6 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD Archived 2009-10-08 at the Wayback Machine . (2009-10-07). Retrieved on 2010-12-28.