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|Index||25 reviews in total|
Premiering in the fall of 1994, this was a great urban action/drama
series, it could have lasted for longer than it did. There were
excellent musical guests every week, lifting from the Soul, R&B & Jazz
worlds.. It was consistently in the top 3 of Urban Households (i.e.,
black/Latino), but struggled to get crossover ratings during its run.
Despite the show clearly having a big Urban following, allegedly the
network and/or production studio did not have much in the way of
promotional merchandise to accompany the program. The show aired for
most of its run on Thursdays, 9 p.m. Eastern Time, directly competing
with the then-juggernaut of NBC's 1990's Thursday block of "Must See
TV" shows like Seinfeld, Friends, E.R., etc. The then-head of urban
music label Uptown/MCA records, Andre' Harrell, was part of the initial
team who pitched the show, initially called "Uptown Undercover" before
it was accepted by FOX. Producer Dick Wolf of the "Law & Order"
franchise was intrigued, and helped secure network support.
Malik Yoba and Michael DeLorenzo play detectives J.C. Williams and Eddie Torres, two young New York undercover cops stationed at the 4th Precinct in Harlem. Their boss is the tough but fair "Lou", Lieutenant Virginia Cooper (Patti D'arbanville-Quinn). Their adventures usually revolved around solving crimes committed in their Harlem district, which ran the gambit from drugs, sex crimes, murders, kidnappings and more.
After the first season, Lauren Velez, as the character of Nina Moreno was added, and had good chemistry with Delorenzo, who would become a romantic interest-- eventually, the characters were married. At one point after the 2nd season, DeLorenzo and Yoba briefly held out from filming in a bid to get more money. Head producer Dick Wolf played hardball and threatened to simply kill them off-screen in the 3rd season debut episode (in a fire) and replace them with two new detectives. Obviously, Yoba and DeLorenzo returned. In the third season, Jonathan LaPaglia was added as Tommy McNamara, a 2nd-generation Irish-American cop transferred from Queens who initially has some friction with the other guys but they eventually come to respect each other.
Some of the recurring sub-plots running through different points of the show are Eddie's strained relationship with his father, a talented jazz musician who's also a recovering drug addict. J.C. was a teen father, now sharing custody of son George ('G') with his mother Chantal. Both detectives would juggle romance and work; Eddie had a fateful dalliance with a known mobster's daughter, who was the sister of a neighborhood friend-turned-mob soldier; J.C. found his family targeted by sadistic drug dealer Danny Cort (played by Ice-T). McNamara's policeman dad was apparently dismissed dishonorably, and proving his dad's innocence was a lingering obsession. The precinct was targeted by Internal Affairs at least once, and Cooper was tempted by an extramarital affair with a fellow cop.
sadly, the producers and/or the network decided to throw a bomb into the mix-- literally-- and ended the third season by abruptly killing Torres and McNamara at the hands of a sadistic female terrorist-- the 4th season, which started in January the following year, took Morena and Williams, placing them in a midtown Manhattan precinct (they usually met in a seemingly abandoned building), for a unique, cross-precinct undercover squad overseen by the anal hardcase Lt. Malcolm Barker (Tommy Ford from "Martin")..
Two new (white) detectives were added, Josh Hopkins/Det. Alec Stone, and Marisa Ryan/Det. Nell Delaney; the idea was to get the detectives to explore more diverse locales and situations in NYC, and to get more mainstream viewers with the new detectives.. It didn't work.. and during the abbreviated 13-episode run of the 4th season, ratings sank even further, effectively killing the show..
Somewhat predictably, Wolf's gamble at a radical re-imagining of the series was NOT accepted by the show's loyal, though "cult" audience. In my opinion, the killing of Torres, and to a lesser extent, McNamara, was too radical a move, and offended loyal viewers. If the show's cast was left intact circa season 3, I think it would have done just fine. The arrogance of Dick Wolf, and the relative indifference of the network is was really made the show go under, not pandering to "liberalism" or whatever nonsense others may dream up (The criminals that J.C., Eddie & company came up against were from all ethnic backgrounds, so the show wasn't some "Black & Latin cop bust bad Whiteys Every Week" cliché').
This series was without a doubt, the best police drama made in the
90's. It was action packed, contemporary, well written, cutting edge
material. The show evolved around the characters of J.C.Williams &
Eddie Torres who were so connected with the gritty streets of N.Y.C.,
it made them naturals for the undercover work that they were assigned.
Lt. Cooper was perfect as the no nonsense commander of the unit who
gave them just enough flexibility to get the job done. The story lines
read out of the newspaper of the day and every week, they would have
whoever was the top current musical artist perform at "Natalie's", so
the show stay current with the times.
The show went south when the stars tried to pull a "Friends" and demand higher salaries and wanted their contracts renegotiated. The producers responded by killing off Torres and replacing Cooper. It was a shame, because the show was a hit. After DeLorenzo & D'Arbanville left the show, it only lasted one more season, and it was not as good as the first three seasons. I'm not sure if it is on DVD, but if it is, it's worth the price.
This was one of those unique shows that should have acquired more praise. While white-dominated cop shows seem to be the norm, this show broke new ground with a diverse cast and minority related issues. Sadly, the whiteness of Hollywood was far too much to overcome in regards to the shelf life of this show. Malik Yoba and Michael DeLorenzo were especially excellent in this series, demonstrating their talent as they were constantly torn between race, culture and the police force. I especially felt the opening montages to the show provided quite a trademark within the series, using no words and only the pulsating beats of contemporary hip-hop and R&B artists to tell the story in a neo-silent film fashion. Whenever I can catch this show at 1 a.m. (and this is only on the weekends), I am rarely disappointed.
Created by the brainchild of Dick Wolf and Kevin Arkadie,this was one
of the greatest cop shows ever to come out of the 1990's. Dick
Wolf,whom at the time had a shining diamond from "Law and Order",struck
gold again in the 1990's centering around the personal and professional
lives of two New York cops. Realistic,gritty,very hip, and outrageously
clever,"New York Undercover" was ahead of its time. This was a
brilliant series in the way it showed a side of New York that never
before existed,but this was a grand series that did so much for inner
city minorities what "The Cosby Show" did for middle-class minorities
in the mid-1980's and early 1990's in the way it depicted strong
non-stereotypical characters living through the harsh realities of the
stressful world and the situations they encounter. A gritty cop show
that had a cinematic verite style about it that had viewers tuned in
each week. This was a series that had a lot of pulsating jazz and
Hispanic music not to mention a lot of rap music in the background as
the cops tracked down the criminals and brought them to justice.
For the astounding four seasons that it ran on FOX,it was of the network's successful shows on its Thursday night line-up which consisted of the successful urban comedies "Martin"(aka "The Martin Lawrence Show")and "Living Single". During its run on the air it ran against NBC's Thursday night juggernaut powerhouse comedy line-up of "Seinfeld","Friends","Frasier",and the medical drama "ER",not to mention the CBS newsmagazine series "Eye to Eye with Connie Chung" which survive in the ratings during its brilliant first season. The series ran on FOX from September 8,1994 until June 25,1998 producing 108 episodes under the executive producer of the series Dick Wolf,under his production company Wolf Films and Universal Television.
Synopsis: Detectives Eddie Torres(Micheal DeLorenzo),and James "J.C." Williams(Malik Yoba)were two young undercover cops assigned to the fourth precinct in the Manhattan section of Harlem and other parts of the city. J.C. had a son by a former girlfriend Chantal(Fatima Faloye)and maintain a close relationship with her because he wanted his son Gregory "G" Williams(George Gore II) to grow up straight. Sandra(Michael Michele),his current girlfriend was an attorney at law. His partner Eddie,who has never been married,dated a lot of women and had a romantic interest in the latter episodes. He and his sister Carmen(Lisa Vidal)tried to look over for their dad Mike(Jose Perez),a recovering drug addict and saxophone player. Their boss was Lt. Virginia Cooper(Patti D'Arbanville-Quinn)who was tough as nails and the person in charge of authority at the precinct to whom the guys were assigned their cases. Their cases ranged from solving crimes,which ran the gambit from drugs,corruption within the department,sex crimes,murders,kidnappers,and all of the above.
Guest stars that appear on this show,particularly musical guest stars,were the punch-line to almost every episode which was the icing on the cake. Natalie's was the jazz club where Eddie and J.C hung out when they were not on duty. Speaking of Natalie's--this was a showcase at the end of each episode,the club was the ultimate showplace for some of the biggest names in the business to show there talent. Names like Gladys Knight,B.B. King,and Al Green were seen in various episodes not to mention Notorious B.I.G.,Mary J. Blige, Boys II Men,and Take 6 & Blackstreet were seen at the club doing their latest smash hits which was the main highlight of the show. And speaking of the supporting characters,some who were cast regulars on "Law and Order","Homicide:Life on the Street",and "Oz" made their mark on this series.
Then the unthinkable happened. At the end of the show's third season,the May of 1995 season finale,Sandra,pregnant with J.C.'s child is gunned down in cold blood by a vengeful criminal on the day they she and J.C were to be married. In the climatic scene that followed,her murderer was killed by Eddie to keep him from stabbing a wounded J.C to death. What followed next,Eddie was killed in a explosion by one of the most diabolical criminals ever devised...the unpredictable and deliciously evil crime-mastermind Danny-Up,played brilliantly by actor-rapper Ice-T. His character was a more believable and more entertaining persona,and the storyline he brought to the show was not only incredible,but a masterpiece(its amazing how he went from villain to supercop on Dick Wolf's Law and Order:Special Victims Unit).
At the start of the show's four and final season,new characters were brought in along with a new focus and from there,the magic that made it brilliant in its first three seasons was gone. Even after this the show lost its edge and its audience disappeared. Great while it lasted. Thank you Dick Wolf,for doing something right.
I thought this show was very good. When I saw the first season, I was somewhat iffy about where it was going. The next season they added the beautiful Lauren Velez, and I think it was then that the show took off. I became a New York Undercover addict! I even enjoyed the episodes in which they brought in Detective Macnamara, played by Jonathan LaPaglia. The next thing I know, New York Undercover just went down hill due to the killing off of the characters Torres and Macnamara. I thought for sure that the season after Macnamara was introduced, that it would get better just as the show always seemed to do at the start of every new season. Well, Mr. Wolf handed fans a HUGE disappointment. I agree with the person who stated that this show could have survived at least two or three more seasons had they kept the Eddie Torres character. Dick Wolf should have seen disaster on the rise. Viewers were used to seeing Torres and Williams. You can't kill off one of the lead characters and expect to have a chance at good ratings. Not only did they kill off Torres and Macnamara, but they killed the spirit of the show. Tommy Ford as Lt. Barker looked more like a pimp than a cop. And who were these other rejects? Even Lt. Cooper left the show. I think fans only watched the very FIRST episode of the last season because they wanted to know if in fact Torres' character was really dead. Once they found out, that was it. Dick Wolf has learned his lesson I'm sure. When you've got a good thing, keep it the way it is. Nobody likes drastic changes to something that they're used to. He's learning that with Law & Order.
New York Undercover was one of those shows that I used to watch religiously,
I was 14 when it first came about - but now that I look back at it, I see
that these cops were ahead of their time as they were able to blend in with
the urban society but at the same time faced tribulations that regular cops
would face. But then again, what the hell do I know about being a cop? not
much, but since cops have to "do their job" in the urban areas, they have to
The live performances fit in pretty well since it's at some big time nightclub which the cops use for their hangout spot. My problem was that FOX completely started to drag the show toward the end and eventually got it cancelled...
thanks for the memories...
Dick Wolf struck gold in this 90s drama centering around the personal and
professional lives of two New York cops. Realistic, gritty, clever, and so
hip it was almost ahead of its own time, New York Undercover did for inner
city minorities what the Cosby show did for middle class minorities in the
80s and 90s: It depicted strong non-stereotypical characters living
Guest stars, particularly musical guest stars, were the punch-line to almost every episode; the smooth buttercream frosting on the cake. And Natalie's was the perfect place to showcase all the talent. Gladys Knight, B.B. King, Notorious B.I.G.--on any given night anyone could be at Natalie's--and you sure didn't want to miss it. In fact, the way the characters flocked to Natalie's provided a fun parallel for the way we all flocked each week to the show. Smiles on our faces, ready to be entertained, wondering what was in store tonight. And who could forget Ice T's non-musical stint as the deliciously criminal Danny-Up? I never have, and probably never will, see a television villain more believable and more entertaining than this one, and the story line he brought to the show was a masterpiece.
It was hard to see the show go. Possibly even harder, though, was that last season after Detective Torres was killed off and they tried to revamp the show into something else. New characters, new focuses, a new feel. It had lost its spark, its magic. The lights were dimming, the music had stopped. It was time to go. I like to imagine the season before that as having been the last one. Watching Eddie die, seeing J.C.'s face, knowing what it all meant. Those were the characters we loved and the ones we would miss because we knew them. Dick Wolf, you did something right, and thanks for that. It WAS hard to see the show go. But it's just like leaving the club: it was a wonderful night and you're tired, but that last song is still in your head. And you can't stop singing it.
At the beginning it was only detectives JC Williams (Malik Yoba) and Eddie Torres (Michael Delorenzo). In that first season it showed the viewers that it was the first black and hispanic cop show on the history of television. Which also gave the viewers, how we see urban crimes today. The first season played all the latest R&B and urban style of music we listened to. The fashions these cops wore the urban community can relate to and the hip language they spoke. JC Williams played by Malik Yoba was a tough New York cop who had no patients for law-breakers. He is also the father of a ten year old son (G),who he has a hard time raising because of the long hours trying to crack down on a case,and his son becoming an adolescenes. It was difficult for JC because he has a finacee he has to spend quality time with,and had to juggle his personal time around his work hours. As for Eddie Torres played by Michael Delorenzo he had issues of his own like someday owning his father's nightclub (Natalie's)and dealing with his father's drug problem. Their work is overseen by the no nonsense Lt.Virginia Cooper. The second season introduce a new member to the detective duo (Nina Moreno) and she was Eddie Torres partnered while JC was recovering from a near fatal incident. The beginning of that season JC became bitter and more aggressive towards criminals,and his partner (Torres) took notice of that and tries to tell him to lightened up some (due to the fatal homicide of his finacee to which JC felt helpless and knowing the killer is still walking the streets). At the end of the "Brotherhood" episode there was a dramatic seen where Torres and JC fight and Torres letting him know that he is still with him,after JC told him he is still mourning the pain of his murdered fiancee. The second season ended with the new detective Nina Moreno (Laura Velez) as Eddie Torres love interest. By the third season the show became more diverse by adding a third cast member name Tommy Mcnamera (Jonathan Lapglia who is Italian). Mcnamera became Nina's partner till she froze up at gunpoint when a criminal who had Mcnamera's life in his hands. Sadly the third season ended with Torres and Mcnamera being killed off by a couple of bank-robbers. There leaving JC and Moreno transferring to a special unit which the show now suitable to a wall street-like audience. At the end it sucked,but in the beginning the show was interesting.
I miss this show so much! It was great until the crew almost completely changed. As soon as Eddie Torres was killed, the show went down hill.
The music was AMAZING, too! I would give anything to have it all on DVD.
It had a real cool "urban" feel to it, and these guys dealt with some real-life issues in their day-to-day drama. It became personal for them on many episodes.
What a great idea for a show this was!
TORRES (MIKE DELORENZO) MADE THAT SHOW COMPLETE!
My show is gone to re-runs to never be returned. This was the excitement of television on Thursday nights along with the shows that came on before it. The story lines were believable, the cast really bonded, and the music (the bomb) set the mood. Natalies' became a forefront for artists of all genre to show their stuff. The clothes were hip, the acting was excellent (until season 4, that is) and the blend made you come back for more. USA is threading the re-runs to pieces by chopping off scenes to make the hour. Cheap shots to Femme thing and their so called movies make/made watching the re-runs unbearable. I miss those days when 'Lou' was hollering at anybody who moved, Michael was confused per usual with the girls and Malik and Chantel or Sandy was going head to head about something. Adding Lauren to the cast was sketchy at first and then she worked in very well. As for Lapaglia, well, leave it alone. He tried, he had a job for a minute. The ever increasingly new faces (some came back as other characters) was well played in to work right along the toe-to-toe cast of old. Boy do I miss this show. Boy do I wish I had taped them, I would have something to treasure. Dick Wolf you truly messed up a good thing just for ratings and little black boxes sakes.
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