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WISEGUY: Undercover Series Gets the Reboot Treatment

Deadline is reporting that Stephen J. Cannell's 1987 TV series Wiseguy is going to be rebooted for NBC by writer/producer Alex Cary, currently co-executive producer on Showtime's Homeland.
Says Deadline, "A reimaging of the original series, which Cannell co-created with Frank Lupo, Wiseguy centers on a disgraced former cop who, while serving time in prison, cuts a deal to work undercover for time off his sentence. The show begins as he’s being released — now he’ll put the connections he made behind bars to good use in the field as he helps the police take down a criminal organization."

The original Wiseguy cast Ken Wahl as OCB undercover operative Vinnie Terranova, with Jonathan Banks as his "handler," Frank McPike; and Jim Byrnes as "Lifeguard."

In its time Wiseguy was innovative for approaching its storytelling in an arc format, that could range four hours to 10 hours and bringing in A-list guest stars.

From Wikipedia, here's a breakdown of story arcs and guest stars:


Sonny Steelgrave storylineVinnie was launched into the first arc upon his release from prison. Sonny Steelgrave (Ray Sharkey) was the leader of Atlantic City Mafia; his brother Dave assassinated Vinnie's training agent, who had been investigating the Steelgrave organization. Vinnie infiltrated Steelgrave's "family," and worked his way up to be Sonny Steelgrave's right-hand man after Dave Steelgrave's death and the apparent defection of one of Steelgrave's captains. When Vinnie finally tried to bring him to justice, Steelgrave committed suicide rather than face the death penalty. Vinnie was ultimately able to exorcize the guilt he felt over his betrayal of Sonny during a brief stay at a sanitarium.

# Episode Season
1 Pilot (1) 1
2 Pilot (2) 1
3 New Blood 1
4 The Loose Cannon 1
5 The Birthday Surprise 1
6 One on One 1
7 Prodigal Son 1
8 A Deal's a Deal 1
9 The Marriage of Heaven and Hell 1
10 No One Gets Out of Here Alive 1

Arc Cast

Ray Sharkey as Sonny Steelgrave
Dennis Lipscomb as Sid Royce/Elvis Prim
Eric Christmas as Harry "The Hunch" Shanstra
Joe Dallesandro as Pat "The Cat" Patrice
Joe Shea as Mack "No Money" Mahoney
Nathan Davis as Don "Joey Bags" Baglia
Robert Mangiardi as Aldo Baglia
Arc Guest Stars

Billy Vera as Joey Romanowski
Annette Bening as Karen Leland
Dan Lauria as Jack Phillips
David Marciano as Lorenzo Steelgrave


Vinnie, using his reputation developed as a result of infiltrating the Steelgrave crime family, made contact with a hitman/assassin named Roger Loccoco (William Russ). However, Vinnie soon discovered a much bigger target: Roger's boss, the (mentally unstable) multi-billionaire international criminal mastermind and arms dealer Mel Profitt (Kevin Spacey), and his sister Susan (Joan Severance). Mel had an addiction to prescription medication (often administered to him by Susan) which further contributed to his unstable emotional state. He was also a believer in Malthusian economics. After much international intrigue involving Mel, Susan and Loccoco (who turned out to be a CIA agent, under even deeper cover than Vinnie), the entire organization was destroyed. Susan killed Mel (after he begged her to), and had a torrid affair with Vinnie, but subsequently went insane and was committed. The arc alluded to an incestuous relationship between Mel and Susan. Roger was seemingly killed in an explosion, but he briefly appeared to Vinnie afterwards. Disgusted with his own lies and deceptions ("I've turned friendship and loyalty into a sick joke"), Vinnie attempted to quit the OCB, but McPike talked him into taking a six-month sabbatical instead.

Stephen J. Cannell, producer of Wiseguy, stated that the character Jim Profit from the short-lived Fox series Profit (which Cannell also produced) was named after and partially based on the Mel Profitt character.

Note- In 1997 TV Guide ranked the episode Blood Dance number 14 on its '100 Greatest Episodes of All Time' list.[1]

# Episode Season
11 Last Rites For Lucci 1
12 Independent Operator 1
13 Fascination for the Flame 1
14 Smokey Mountain Requiem 1
15 Player to be Named Now 1
16 The Merchant of Death 1
17 Not For Nothing 1
18 Squeeze 1
19 Blood Dance 1
20 Phantom Pain 1
21 Dirty Little Wars 1
22 Date With an Angel 1

Arc Cast

Joan Severance as Susan Profitt
Kevin Spacey as Mel Profitt
William Russ as Roger Lococco
David Spielberg as Herb Ketcher
Melanie Chartoff as Lillah Warfield
Ben Halley, Jr. as Henri LaLonde
Clyde Kusatsu as Kenny Sasusha
Will Zahrn as Charles Shagrass


At the beginning of the second season, Vinnie had no intention of rejoining the OCB, and was trying figure out what to do with his life. When his brother Pete (Gerald Anthony) is killed by a white supremacist, however, Vinnie returned to the OCB, on the condition that he could go after his brother's killer. He quickly fell in with a supremacist group, headed by the opportunistic used car salesman and con man "Dr." Knox Pooley (Fred Thompson), and his "true believer" follower Calvin Hollis (Paul Guilfoyle). While Pooley's organization, the "Pilgrims of Promise," is both racist and anti-Semitic, the character himself is portrayed as hypocritical and amoral. Vinnie quickly brought down the organization, but the slippery Pooley escaped prosecution and was last seen in Florida, selling condominium timeshares to Jewish retirees. The story suggested Pooley was nothing but a swindler and Hollis the dangerous one.

# Episode Season
23 Going Home 2
24 School of Hard Knox 2
25 Revenge of the Mud People 2
26 Last of the True Believers 2

Arc Cast

Tim Guinee as Richard T. (Ritchie) Stramm
John M. Jackson as Daryl Elias
Fred Dalton Thompson as Knox Pooley
Paul Guilfoyle as Calvin Hollis
Jack Orend as Stan Corker
Kerry Sandomirsky as Angela Terranova


David Sternberg (Ron Silver) and his father Eli (Jerry Lewis) ran a clothing business, and were being squeezed by the fearsome gangster Rick Pinzolo (Stanley Tucci). David goes to the OCB for help, thus Vinnie is recruited to act as security for the Sternbergs. After a small-time loanshark attacked and injured Vinnie, he was temporarily replaced by retired agent John Henry Raglin (Anthony Denison). (Note: in reality, star Ken Wahl had broken his ankle in an on-set accident, and was written out while he recovered.) Raglin brought down (and killed) Pinzolo, but not in time to save Eli's business or David's life. Joan Chen appeared in one episode of this arc, as a rebellious Chinese sweatshop worker with whom the married Raglin briefly has an affair. After Raglin breaks Pinzolo's jaw, the character has his jaw wired shut, requiring Tucci to talk through clenched teeth afterward.

# Episode Season
28 7th Avenue Freeze Out 2
29 Next of Kin 2
30 All or Nothing 2
31 Where's the Money 2
32 Postcard From Morocco 2

Arc Cast

Jerry Lewis as Eli Sternberg
Ron Silver as David Sternberg
Stanley Tucci as Enrico "Ricky" Pinzolo
Anthony Denison as John Henry Raglin
Harry Goz as Phil
Patricia Charbonneau as Carole Goldman


Upon his recovery, Vinnie's next assignment took him into the music business, where he dealt with music impresario Isaac Twine (Paul Winfield) and his wife Amber (Patti D'Arbanville). He was set up as a new executive in a front company, "Dead Dog Records", which was originally created by the Drug Enforcement Agency, who offered it to the OCB when their investigation ended. Vinnie then attempted to infiltrate the music industry in search of corruption. The principal villain of this arc is English record mogul Winston Newquay (pronounced Noo-kway in the show, rather than Nyoo-key in the English fashion). Newquay, played by Tim Curry, ruthlessly cheats the artists under his control, funneling their money into his own companies while hiding his activities with accounting tricks.

Debbie Harry, Deidre Hall and Glenn Frey also appear during this story arc. In 1993, Chicago rock band The Lilacs put out a record called Penelope on a label called Dead Dog Records in homage to the show.

# Episode Season
35 Dead Dog Lives 2
36 And it Comes Out Here 2
37 The Rip-Off Stick 2
38 High Dollar Bop 2
39 Hip Hop on the Gravy Train 2
40 The One that Got Away 2
41 Living and Dying in 4/4 Time 2

Arc Cast

Tim Curry as Winston Newquay
Patti D'Arbanville as Theresa "Amber" Twine
Glenn Frey as Robert "Bobby" Travis
Deidre Hall as Claudia Newquay
Deborah Harry as Diana Price
Paul McCrane as Johnny Medley
Pamela Seagall as Tanya Medley
Paul Winfield as Isaac Twine
Billy Wirth as Eddie Tempest
Ron Taylor as Monroe Blue


At the beginning of the third season, Vinnie had not been assigned any recent cases, but, in usual Wiseguy fashion, a case found him. Vinnie's stepfather, Don Rudy Aiuppo (George O. Petrie) was shot and wounded, leaving Vinnie the temporary head of the local Mafia commission. Vinnie investigated the other members, including Albert Cericco (Robert Davi). Eventually, Vinnie brought down most of the commission, only to find Aiuppo had been manipulating him to exact revenge on some rivals. An enraged Vinnie angrily told Aiuppo that, stepfather or not, he wanted nothing more to do with him. Aiuppo in turn tried to drive a wedge between Vinnie and his mother by implying that he had learned of Vinnie's undercover role from her. In reality, he had bugged a payphone outside his hospital room, thinking that the various Mafiosi visiting him would be using it just after taking their leave. Vinnie had used it to contact Uncle Mike.

# Episode Season
43 The Four-Letter Word (1) 2
44 Le Lacrime de Amore (2) 2
45 A Rightful Place 3
46 Battle of the Barge 3
47 Sins of the Father 3
48 Heir to the Throne 3

Arc Cast

Robert Davi as Albert Cerrico
George O. Petrie as Raphael Gaitanio Aiuppo, Rudy Flowers, aka Don Aiuppo
Tony Mike Romano as Poochy
John Snyder as Joey Grosset
Michael Chiklis as Carlo Spoletta
Anne De Salvo as Gina Grosset
Chazz Palminteri as Peter Allatore


Vinnie was summoned to the Justice Department and put in charge of an investigation of Japanese Yen counterfeiting, unaware that the whole thing was a setup by certain unscrupulous government figures who sought payback for damaging fallout from the Mel Profitt case. Based on the real-life Operation Bernhard, the conspirators aim to undermine the Japanese economy by printing large amounts of counterfeit Yen, smuggling them into Japan on cargo aircraft, and then announcing it all in order to devalue the currency. After the revelation, a convenient scapegoat is supposed to take the blame, in this case, Vinnie. When the plan is foiled en route, Vinnie nevertheless becomes the focus of an investigation, and is only saved when a third party "connects the dots" for the investigating committee.

# Episode Season
53 Day One 3
54 Day Four 3
55 Day Seven 3
56 Day Nine 3

Arc Cast

Norman Lloyd as General Leland Masters
Stephen Joyce as Admiral Walter Strichen
Kim Greist as Katherine (Kay) Gallagher
Robert Harper as Dewitt Clipton
Ray Stricklyn as Senator Pickering
Stan Shaw as Major Vernon Biggs
Georgann Johnson as Senator Janet Getzloff


Vinnie was made a deputy of a small town in Washington State, where local strongman Mark Volchek (Steve Ryan) was essentially treating the town like his own personal dictatorship. The arc took an unexpected turn when recent murders were determined to be the work of a serial killer based on the then real life unsolved Green River Killer cases. As a large federal task force was on its way to Lynchboro, Volchek, fearful of the disruption and attention, was determined to identify the killer through his knowledge of the town and residents. Through a rapid process of elimination based on the existing profile, Volcheck was able to narrow the suspects and flush out the killer. Vinnie had been set on adding Volchek to his list of victories when he witnessed the electrocution suicide of the killer which brought back flashbacks of Sonny Steelgrave. Unable to cope with the memories, Vinnie fled, but not before contacting Roger Lococco, who took his place, and working with McPike, brought Volchek to his senses and freed the town. (This story-arc was, in mood and setting, eerily prescient of the early episodes of the show "Twin Peaks," which debuted a few weeks after the sequence was aired.)

After the Volchek investigation had ended McPike went looking for Vinnie, who had taken a job with a Seattle company that was illegally dumping medical waste. Embroiled in the company manager's desperate attempts at covering up, Vinnie fled in repulsion from hired assassins as well as from his own burgeoning violent impulse, to find respite in a city church. Just as McPike found him in hiding there, a would-be assassin's bullet missed Vinnie and critically wounded McPike, propelling Vinnie on a final pursuit of justice.

# Episode Season
60 A One Horse Town 3
61 His Master's Voice 3
62 Hello Buckwheat 3
63 Let Them Eat Cake 3
64 Meltdown 3

Arc Cast

Steve Ryan as Steven Volchek
David Strathairn as Sheriff Matthew Stemkowsky
James Stacy as Edward Rogosheske
Darlanne Fluegel as Lacey Marseille
Neil Gray Giuntoli as Donny
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