Vinnie Terranova (Ken Wahl) wasn’t a bad guy: he just played them on TV, as a deep-cover agent who insinuated himself into crime organizations. Where past cop shows were obliged to wrap up their investigations in 30 or 60 minutes, Wiseguy‘s lasted months, allowing Vinnie to risk not only his body but his soul as he developed troubling empathy for his prey. But the real stars of this show were the captivating villains, played by the likes of Tim Curry, Jerry Lewis and Kevin Spacey, who delivered one of TV’s all-time great guest turns as the decadent, volatile arms dealer Mel Profitt, who held a gun on Vinnie in a game of Russian Roulette and deadpanned, “The idle rich are so hard to entertain.” Ah, but they were so entertaining themselves.

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