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The villains on ''Wiseguys''

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Executive Producer Stephen Cannell has made the witty decision to replace Wiseguy‘s now-departed big-stiff hero, Ken Wahl, with a new big-stiff hero, Steven Bauer (Drug Wars: The Camarena Story). Neither one can play anything more complicated than stoic indifference, but Wiseguy isn’t a hero-show anyway. It’s the villains who make it worth watching. The new season has brought us a good one: Maximilian Schell as an elegant-but-sleazy Cuban-American businessman with ties to Salvadoran death squads — awwright! The action is swift, the politics populist, and there are two whole women in this intensively male show. Cecil Hoffmann, so good as a working-class woman in the short-lived Dream Street, is excellent as a high-powered executive working for Schell; Cannell’s way of congratulating Hoffman for a job well done is to run a close-up of her legs in the credits — whatta guy. Pop singer Martika (remember ”Toy Soldiers”? No? Gee, it was only last year….) attempts to revive her career by playing a slinky chanteuse who tries to get Bauer to register emotion by frying eggs while dressed in little more than a push-up bra and heels. Good luck, Martika!

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