Coby Bell by K.C. Bailey/NBC
After years of patiently waiting, Third Watch has finally entered the DVD universe! In celebration of this week's first-season release, I stole some time with Officer Ty Davis himself, Coby Bell, to talk about shooting the show, cracking up his on-screen sidekick and what took so damn long!

According to my research, you were the only actor on the show who appeared in every episode. Oh wow. Was I? [ Laughs] I didn't know that.

Says you also did really well on a Third Watch edition of The Weakest Link? I do remember that. And I surprised myself. [ Laughs] It was members of the cast and [series creator] Ed Bernero did it, too. I kept looking over at my wife and was just pulling these answers out of my ass. Honestly, I didn't know where they were coming from! [ Laughs]

How was it filming the show in New York? It was so early in my career. I mean, I graduated college in '97. I was in this show called L.A. Doctors in '98, which only lasted a season. Then that pilot season I booked Third Watch and moved to New York. So that is really where I started.

Which is fitting, since your character started on the force in the pilot. Yeah, it was perfect. And looking back on it, I see how I had the advantage in the audition process. He didn't know what he was doing and I didn't know what I was doing. [ Laughs]

Have you watched the DVD set? No I haven't, not yet. But I am so glad that it's finally coming out. Good lord!

Exactly! [ Laughs] I know. I had people asking me on the street all the time and I'm like 'I have no idea.' Someone must know what the hold-up was, but I am not that person. [ Laughs]

So, fresh out of college, you end up playing cops and robbers in New York City? It was a blast for me. I loved going to work everyday. Especially working with Skipp [Sudduth, "Sully"]. He and became such good friends. We're still really tight. We would just make each other laugh all the time and then be real serious when the cameras were rolling. But when they yelled 'cut,' we'd start goofing around again.

I think some of that made the DVD set's gag reel. Yeah? Well, that's probably about one-percent of the silliness. [ Laughs]

So then you must be having a ball on The Game? I am loving The Game. I wanted to get into comedy after Third Watch , so I'm really happy to have the opportunity to do it.

Yet for a comedy, it's been taking some serious turns. Yeah. I mean, it's definitely a comedy, but they do bring the real issues and I think the audience is responding to that.

Did they put you guys through any kind of crazy cop training for Watch? We did some ride-alongs... Jason Wiles ["Bosco"] and I went on a couple of ride-alongs with some guys down in the East Village and that was really interesting.

Did that have you thinking 'oh, I don't want to do this'? It had me thinking that I didn't want to do it for real! [ Laughs] Any job where you put on a bulletproof vest just to go to work is not for me.

How was the NYPD with you guys during filming? [We got] a lot of respect, yeah. The cops in New York loved the show. Ed Bernero was a cop himself, so he made sure that we kept things as accurate as we could on TV. I think the cops appreciated that.

Third Watch was probably one of the first shows to address 9/11 in a real way. I remember that episode where it was just the cast talking, the one that got your guys the Peabody Award. I had actually kind of spoken up saying that we shouldn't do it. I lived in Battery Park City, which is like two blocks away from the South Tower. So my wife and I kind of went through that whole thing, we were evacuated... and check this out- the guy who got us on the boat over to New Jersey was actually our technical advisor. He had actually just lost his partner. It was a surreal, surreal experience. A bunch of us from the cast and some crew went down to Ground Zero to hand out food and I was just in a daze.

I can imagine.
So when we came back to work, they were talking about doing this episode and I was like 'no thanks.' But the way they ended up doing it was really tasteful and important. It actually helped me work through some things.

Do you have a favorite episode?
You know, that was the one thing I thought about before you called today. [ Laughs] I think it was Season 2, the one with this guy who was riding around on a bike, shooting cops. And he ends up shooting this guy that was in the Academy with Ty...there's this beautiful funeral scene at the end.

Aside from Skipp, are you in touch with any of your other costars? Actually, Anthony [Ruivivar, "Carlos"], Mike Beach ["Doc"] and I have been working on some comedy shorts together, just for fun. Anthony has been directing them and we've just been going for it. Anthony and his wife are starting this website, so hopefully that's where they'll end up.

Might as well use the strike's free time, right? Yeah. It is a lot more fun to work with your friends without Big Brother watching over you. [ Laughs]

OK, folks, how cool is he, right? That's the Joy for this week. Next time...my Valentine to the Sex-iest show ever.

Until then, don't hog the remote! - Damian Holbrook