Wiseguy: Mel Profitt Arc - Season 1 Part 2
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(Dec 30, 2003)
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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
- Contains all 11 episodes from the Mel Proffit arc, plus a bonus, stand alone episode
- Commentary by actor Ken Wahl on episode #4
- Interviews with co-creator Stephen J. Cannell, producer David Burke and actors Kevin Spacey, Joan Severance, Elsa Raven, & William Russ
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The packaging of the series in this DVD set is very well done with lots of cameo shots of the actors. One flaw; In the opening episode, when originally broadcast on TV, Wahl and Russ are heliocopter'd to Spacey's yacht to the background of a perfectly matched hard-rock song. It fit the scene of decadent 80's style partying perfectly. In this DVD edition however, the music has been replaced by a bland piece of Muskak that cripples the impact of the scene for those of us who remember the original. Why this was done is beyond me. Perfection should not be tampered with. But aside from that, this is a TV tour de force worth 5 Stars easily. Only 'Smiley's People' and 'Riley Ace of Spies' compare to it.
I also think that people should know that this is not straight crime drama, it is more like the story of Vinny so we follow him along but aren't bored by the more formula parts of the tales of an FBI agent. This show never takes the "law and order" type formula of crime, arrest, trial, jail, and the good guys aren't always good but they aren't bad in the more cliche' ways I have seen in other dramas. Everyone in this show is a human first and agent, crime boss, etc second.