Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Modern Classic (?): Wiseguy (1987)

Wiseguy lasted 3, almost 4 seasons, but was different from most crime dramas.

Vinnie Terranova (Ken Wahl), a government operative, goes deep undercover in various criminal organizations to take them down from the inside. What made Wiseguy so different, and, at the same time, innovative, was that there wasn't an over-arching story arc. Instead, each arc would last a few weeks before reaching its conclusion.

Wahl left the series after the 3rd season, but CBS and producer Stephen J. Cannell moved forward with Steven Bauer as the new lead. They wrote off Wahl by selling the idea that Terranova had been abducted, which was retconned out in a 1996 TV-movie, produced for ABC instead of CBS, that had Vinnie doing some wiretapping. The movie bombed due to the fact it was airing opposite NBC's powerhouse Thursday block. The series itself aired on Wednesdays.

Kevin Spacey, currently in Netflix's House of Cards, appeared in season 1. Other notables included Ray Sharkey, musicians Glenn Frey and Debbie Harry, Deidre Hall (Days of Our Lives), and, in season 2, comedy legend Jerry Lewis, in a dramatic turn as the owner of a dry cleaner under siege from a mob boss (Stanley Tucci). Ron Silver co-stars in "All Or Nothing", courtesy of Hulu:




Today, the show languishes in the vaults. I wonder why.

Rating: B.

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