21 September 2007 | KUAlum26
Short-lived but not forgotten
I watched this show faithfully practically from the first show and throughout its run. When this show premiered in 1986,I was a freshman in high school and hadn't yet gotten access to my own car,so my social life was kinda limited. Knowing that,many of my Friday nights(when they,NBC,first plugged this show into their line-up)were "freed up" to watch television and I was usually between this show and the even shorter-lived ABC series "Starman". Ordinarily,I wouldn't ever suggest that one should eschew a social life in order to watch television,but I have to say that,where this show is concerned,I'm kinda glad I didn't have much of a social calendar.
Producer Michael Mann,flush with success in the mid-eighties from his white hot popular,MTV-fueled crime show "Miami Vice",created this show,a change of pace from the slick,'80s "Vice": cold,rough Chicago of 1963,where pre-Miranda warning cops battled tough,old school mobsters and rising,ambitious hoods. In this setting we watch as a war is brewing between two particulars:tough,no-nonsense Major Case squad Lt.Michael Torello(Dennis Farina,actual Chicago cop turned actor,excellent) and rising young-ish hood Ray Luca(Anthony Denison,so good here he's become somewhat prone to typecasting). As Luca's climb in the outfit continues to rise,the body count of people he uses(including some friends of Torello's)rises,and this fuels the drama further still.
Famously,the show's producers,by the end of 1986-87 had reasoned that the relatively low ratings had doomed the show to cancellation,this prompting the last episode to feature two of the main characters(I won't say which ones,since I'm certain that not EVERYONE knows about this show)were offed by a nuclear bomb detonation. So when the show's loyal fan base demanded the show to be brought back by a semi-reluctant NBC,the show,already changed of scenery to glitzy Las Vegas and the Chicago cops now Marshalls of the Department of Justice,had to undergo a fair amount of writer change and the storyline began to become stranger and more stilted,yet I still found the show very compelling. Many of the actors on the show have gone on to many other--and much more famous and successful--projects,but I still remember them from their stint on this show. This show was also a launching pad for then-unknown actors such as Lorraine Bracco,Gary Sinise,Stanley Tucci,David Caruso and Julia Roberts.I think it's a testimony to a show's potency when it can be off the air almost twenty years and STILL inspire plenty of interest on its IMDb site and on various TV and video websites.Heck,even the THEME SONG(Del Shannon re-doing his hit "Runaway")I thought set the mood and tone for the show,further adding to the enjoyment. Having seen all of the episodes at least twice,I feel like I may be inclined to buy the eps on DVD yet.
While it may seem a little dated,restrained and hokey by today's TV crime drama standards,I'd still recommend one--if one can run across this show--to give "Crime Story" a look.