Ken Tucker
July 30, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Wiseguy: Season 1 Part 1

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated

We gave it an A

”Wiseguy” (1987 — 90) took the mold for crime shows and roughed it up — the series was the first to make its villains more colorful, and often more prominent, than its star. Ken Wahl’s performance as undercover agent Vinnie Terranova (even his surname translated as new territory for TV) was an underrated paradox — a modest tough guy. Wahl was willing to be heroic when the script called for it, but also willing to stand aside and let vividly eccentric villains portrayed by Kevin Spacey, the late Ray Sharkey, and Jerry Lewis take center camera. ”Wiseguy” used the multi-episode ”story arc” format better than any series — and was one of the first programs to do so. The show’s finest editions can now be seen on DVD (Unrated, 10 hrs. each, StudioWorks): three collections that include fascinatingly frank, ruefully funny commentaries by Wahl and similarly candid interviews with Stephen J. Cannell and David J. Burke.

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