When OCB agent, Vincent Terranova is assigned to investigate assassin, Roger Lococco, neither he nor his superiors are aware that Lococco is working for international arms and drug dealer, Mel Profitt. More importantly, Lococco is carrying out a covert and illegal assignment for an errant branch of the CIA working to overthrow the government of a developing country. As "The Profitt Arc" unfolds, Vinnie finds himself drawn deeper into a complex and bizarre world beyond anything he has ever experienced. At the same time, he is fighting his feeling for Mels beautiful sister, Susan. Ultimately, he finds himself in the midst of a deadly triangle between Susan, Mel, and himself. Vinnie now must fight for his own life at the hands of Mel Profitt as well as the American government when he threatens Lococcos secret mission.
After the intense "Sonny Steelgrave
" arc of first-season episodes, the producers of Wiseguy
faced the challenge of topping themselves, and they did it by casting a relatively unknown New York stage actor named Kevin Spacey, who proceeded to chew up the scenery as only a future Oscar®-winner could. But Spacey's not the only reason for the giddy success of the "Mel Profitt" arc, which finds OCB agent Vinnie Terranova (Ken Wahl) teaming up with sociopathic assassin Roger Lococco (William Russ) in an effort to infiltrate the global drugs-and-guns empire of the Proffitt siblings Mel (Spacey), a "manic-depressive genius with acute paranoia," and his codependent sister Susan (Joan Severance), who keeps her incestuously devoted brother happy by injecting home-brewed narcotics between his toes (hence giving Spacey his trademark line, "Only the toes knows!").
TV audiences in 1988 had never seen such a twisted sibling relationship, and there's plenty of eccentric chemistry between Spacey and then-newcomer Severance, who later developed a loyal male following as a B-movie sexpot. Completing their triangle of terror is Russ, playing Lococco as a tormented Vietnam vet with a massive chip on his shoulder, luring Vinnie into a life of luxury and lethal behavior, thus complicating matters considerably for Vinnie's covert handlers McPike (Jonathan Banks) and Lifeguard (Jim Byrnes), who grow increasingly worried as Vinnie gains Mel Profitt's hard-won trust. The quality of these 12 episodes remains consistently high as the Profitts reach "psychotic critical mass," leading to Mafia connections and a new direction for Vinnie's loving mother (well-played by Elsa Raven). Through it all, Wahl (who proves himself a man of few words in a sparse one-episode commentary) maintains his strong presence as a leading man, generously allowing Spacey's rising star to shine. Wiseguy still had some highlights in its future, but the "Mel Profitt" arc represents the series at its best. --Jeff Shannon