Vinnie Terranova does time in a New Jersey penitentiary to set up his undercover role as an agent for the OCB (Organized Crime Bureau) of the United States. His roots in a traditional ... See full summary »
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4   3   2   1  
1990   1989   1988   1987  
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »





Complete series cast summary:
 Frank McPike (74 episodes, 1987-1990)
 Daniel Benjamin 'Lifeguard' Burroughs (74 episodes, 1987-1990)
 Vinnie Terranova / ... (65 episodes, 1987-1990)

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Vinnie Terranova does time in a New Jersey penitentiary to set up his undercover role as an agent for the OCB (Organized Crime Bureau) of the United States. His roots in a traditional Italian city neighborhood form the underlying dramatic base throughout the series, bringing him into conflict with his conservative mother and other family members while acting undercover as syndicate enforcer. The segments, which ran several shows each, included in-depth and empathetic characterizations of the players on both sides of the law. Scenarios include the underbelly of the recording industry, protection rackets, international arms dealing, foiling white supremacist plotters, uncovering a government conspiracy to set up a compliant new head of state in a third-world country, and Vinnie's final reconciliation with his Italian mother and her new husband, the purely legendary Mafia figure Don Aiupo. Written by Barlow Pepin <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


His first wrong move will be his last.


Crime | Drama | Mystery


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Release Date:

16 September 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El astuto  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

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Did You Know?


Lifeguard's real name Daniel Benjamin Burroughs is revealed in Wiseguy: Call It Casaba (1989). See more »


Sonny Steelgrave: You're that smart. How come you're not that smart?
See more »


Bright Side
Debbie Harry sung title track for 3 episodes
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User Reviews

Holds Up Very Well!
16 June 2016 | by (Wyoming) – See all my reviews

I remembered this late 80's/early 90's show for its look, high production values, and Ken Wahl's wholly believable turn as Vinne Terranova. After it was recently released (again) on DVD, I picked up Season One from Amazon. It's been very hard to hit 'pause' and come back later! And certainly worth every penny. Wahl is even better than I remembered (I don't think he ever ended up doing anything again after leaving Wiseguy), and the rest of the cast--especially those who were brought on as Wahl's antagonists for the multi-episode story 'arcs' like Ray Starkey and Kevin Spacey--bring their 'A' game (which seems unusual for that era of television.) What struck me in scene after scene is that Wahl not only seems perfectly cast in this role, he has SERIOUS presence and acting chops. His acting, which never seems forced or 'over the top,' seemingly pushes first rate actors like Starkey and Spacey to give it THEIR best . . . there's almost a competitive edge to the extended scenes where Wahl and these guys are truly going for it in an acting sense.

Some of the scriptwriting is a little corny by today's standards, and the plots . . . peculiar (I'm thinking of the Mel Profit arc where Terranova and Profit's right hand man are sent to Tennessee to "straighten out the business"). Jonathan Banks, who plays Terranova's FBI handler, seems overly heated and one dimensional for the most part (a criticism that may have been contemporary as he occasionally breaks character to show some kind of human side). Not a particularly memorable turn.

The other reviews here suggest that things dropped off after Season One, so I probably will skip those . . . but Season One is a serious work of early episodic television.

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