3 May 2017 | behranblue
Season 1 of "Wiseguy" is must-see, amazing t.v.
I noticed there has only been one other review written since after 2005 so I thought I should write a current one. They started showing all the Wiseguy episodes on channel H & I on cable television in 2017. I watched it from the beginning when it started in 1987 and remember how great the first two story arcs in season 1 were with Ray Sharkey and Kevin Spacey. I thought to myself now I can watch seasons 2-4 and see if I missed anymore great story arcs back then. To my horror I found out I actually had watched all the episodes back then, they are just not worth remembering. Later story arcs after season 1 in included Tim Curry, Fred Thompson, singer Blondie, and even Jerry Lewis. I stopped liking anything new Jerry Lewis did after this show probably because I didn't like his character, bad acting and a bad story, so if you are a Jerry Lewis fan don't feel like you need to watch his episodes just because he is in them, you might wish you never watched his episodes like me. Future Law and Order alum and 2008 presidential candidate Fred Thompson is very good but is the only bright spot in the KKK story line.
If you want someone to watch the episodes with just tell your friends that Mike from "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" is in every episode as Vinnie's boss.
It is hard to decide which part of season 1 I like best, the beginning 9 episode arc with Ray Sharkey as a mafia boss where you actually get to like his character or the 11 part arc with Kevin Spacey as a crimelord which I never wanted to end. I wish they knew what they had and extended that story line to a whole another season or two. I believe it was the first time I ever saw Kevin Spacey and despite all the great things he has done since, his work in "Wiseguy" is still my favorite. William Russ as Roger Lacocco is another reason to like this story arc, although I didn't realize how much I liked his character until he came back towards the end of season 3 for a small story arc and William Russ does some great acting. I have to admit when I first watched the first season, with all the great stories and acting, Joan Severance as Kevin Spacey's characters sister was my favorite part, hard not to fall for her.
I have to add in here somewhere that my lasting impression of the series all these years when I thought of Wiseguy has been the last episode of the first story arc titled "No one gets out of here alive" where the song "Knights in White Satin" plays on the jute box at the perfect time, but on cable and I've heard on the DVD they replace it with mood music, probably because they couldn't afford to use the music on DVD (the same thing caused the series "The Wonder Years" to not come out on DVD for many years). Very disappointing. If you taped that episode on your VCR when it first aired then you have a collectors item.
There is a season 4 for only half a season without Ken Wahl as Wiseguy. They make it seem at first like it is only a two episode story of someone who knew Vinnie and talk about him all the time, but then the series continues without the main character Vinnie. I have read that Ken Wahl quit because he was getting injured too often or that he gained so much weight that they took him off the show. The only part of season 4 I liked was the main characters girlfriend played by singer Martika who was barely ever shown.
So if you can buy just season 1 of Wiseguy with the first two story arc I would give it a 10 out of 10. If you can only buy it as a whole series or can watch it on cable I would also watch another episode in season 3 called "Sleepwalk" that is very fun that takes place between story arcs where Vinnie and his girlfriend are advised to spend time in a cabin and end up at an out of the way bar on 1950's theme night, then the last seven episodes in season 3 which includes when Lacocco comes back, and the last of those 7 episodes being the last episode with the main actor Ken Wahl (looking back a great last episode with a great last scene if the series had ended right there).
In conclusion, season 1 is must-see, the episode "Blooddance" even being thought of as the 14th best episode of any show ever on TV by TV Guide in 1997. If the show had only lasted the first season I would consider it about the 14th best television show of all time.