Wiseguy: Sonny Steelgrave and the Mob - Season
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Vinnie Terranova (Ken Wahl), a tough, street-wise undercover agent, infiltrates the organized-crime syndicate in Atlantic City where, with one slip of his cover, he could end up a dead man. Partly because of his smarts and "wiseguy" attitude, special Agent Terranova has been trained by the Organized Crime Bureau (OCB). In his precarious position, only a select few know his true identity including Frank Mc Pike, his supervisor in the OCB and "lifeguard" his only communications link to the Bureau while undercover. In Sonny Steelgrave & the Mob, Federal Agent Vinnie Terranova establishes an ex-con rap to infiltrate the organized crime of Atlantic City.
With the release of Wiseguy on DVD, one of the best TV series of the 1980s gets a new lease on life. Long before Donnie Brasco brought similar drama to the big screen, Ken Wahl brought charisma, credibility, and chutzpah to his small-screen role as Vincent Terranova, a handsome 30-year-old agent with the FBI's Organized Crime Bureau. As conceived by cocreators Stephen Cannell (of The Rockford Files and The A-Team fame) and Ken Lupo, Wiseguy followed an innovative "story-arc" structure, allowing Vinnie's deep-cover missions to last only as long as necessary to bring each case to a sensible conclusion. Since copied by countless TV shows, this unique approach to storytelling attracted a devoted following of viewers addicted to the self-contained plots that forced Vinnie, his sourpuss OCB handler Frank McPike (Jonathan Banks), and disabled covert liaison Dan "Lifeguard" Burroughs (played by double-amputee Jim Byrnes) to achieve their objectives within 6 to 10 hourlong episodes.
Season 1, Part 1--the first of six Wiseguy DVD sets--includes the entire nine-episode arc (plus pilot) in which Vinnie infiltrates the New Jersey mob family of Sonny Steelgrave, a silk-suited kingpin played by Ray Sharkey in his finest TV role. Their brotherly relationship poses a moral dilemma for Vinnie (giving the arc its dramatic core and primary source of suspense), and Wiseguy earned its reputation as a well-written series that favored character-driven tension while providing the requisite pulp fiction (i.e. occasional murder and mayhem) that kept viewers and advertisers happy. While the DVD packaging gives bogus equal billing to Annette Bening (who appears here in one pivotal episode), her pre-stardom appearance is indicative of the show's consistently high standards in writing, casting, and stylish direction. The styles may be dated (including poodle-puff hairdos for women, including Bening), but there's not a weak episode in the bunch, including the stand-alone shows (involving domestic crises for McPike and Burroughs) that allowed character growth beyond the story-arc structure. It's all good, apart from a dispensable gag reel and commentaries by Wahl (on his two favorite episodes), who says little of interest between long gaps of silence. (He promises more on later DVDs, so Wiseguy devotees are advised to keep listening. Next up: the "Mel Profitt" arc, with guest star Kevin Spacey.) --Jeff ShannonSee all Editorial Reviews
- Contains all 9 episodes from the Sonny Steelgrave arc, plus the 2-part pilot and 2 bonus, stand alone episodes
- Audio commentary by star Ken Wahl on two episodes
- Interviews with actors Jonathan Banks and co-creator Stephen J. Cannell
- Gag footage
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Top customer reviews
Life is not perfect, but it has its moments and this inexpensive version of Wiseguy is one of those moments. I have no complaints...
Thank you for bringing this most memorable series back into my life, even at the cost of a song or two.
Now excuse me as I go dry my tears and mourn for Sonny before starting the Profitt arc.
VINCE: I wish it was you.
McPIKE: No you don't. You don't wish it was me.
I'm waiting a little to savor the Mel and Susan Profitt arc next.
Ken Wahl became his character, Vinnie Terranova. Vinnie, an undercover agent for the Organized Crime Bureau, struggled with the fine line between the crime he worked to bring down and the people behind it. He goes so far undercover that the work takes an emotional toll on him and with the help of his field supervisor, Frank McPike (played by Jonathan Banks) and "Lifeguard" (played by Jim Brynes)-Vinnie works through his demons.
The first season has two story arcs. The show built its'characters around a specific crime syndicate that Vinnie infiltrates and works to destroy the crime within. The first story arc centers around a crime syndicate led by Sonny Steelgrave (probably the best role of Ray Sharkey's career). Following this story, you experience along with Vinnie-the difficulties of his work, his alienation from his family and all that is dear to him. Even at the final confrontation between Vinnie and Sonny, an amazing scene well acted by Wahl and Sharkey, you see the struggle. In this scene, Vinnie tells Sonny that, "it never occurred to me that we would be friends. There is a lot in you I felt close to". In other scene with his mother, she tells Vinnie (to help him gain perspective on his relationship with Steelgrave), "What good is it when a man loves his own children but kills someone else's".
In the second story, Kevin Spacey portrays Mel Proffit, a psychopath, who heads an international drug and arms business with his sister, Susan. Vinnie gets entangled with these two and their hired gun, Roger LoCocco (played well by William Russ). The best way to describe Mel Proffit-Sonny Steelgrave is a saint compared to him. This character will give you chills and Spacey nails him beautifully.
Re-watching the first season of "Wiseguy" was very enjoyable-very intense and compelling series that I am thrilled to have in my library. If you like a well written and well acted crime drama that will keep your attention, you can't go wrong with "Wiseguy".
One note of caution, the packing of this newly released first season is not very good. All you get is a box with the four enveloped DVDs-there are no bonus materials or extra text with the set. I watched it all and the DVDs play fine. The 22 episodes are complete and I am pleased with the quality. As with the sound, I didn't have any problems. Even without all the "bells and whistles", the show is worth purchasing this set.
Most recent customer reviews
It was absolutely "must see TV" on Wednesday night
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