How does a deep-cover operative keep his sanity and morality intact when the criminal lifestyle he’s sworn to bring down from within is more compelling than his own? Federal Agent Vincent Terranova is plagued by the question in this innovative take on 80’s cop dramas.
He 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 neighbourhood 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.
In the end, Vinnie may have got his man, but the emotional toll of the lies and deceptions he used to get close enough to his prey couldn’t be ignored. But he’s ably backed by his Field Supervisor Frank McPike and his OCB Lifeguard on the law-and-order side and his brother Father Pete Terranova on the spiritual side.
Personal problems and injuries caused Wahl to back out of a fourth season and be replaced by Steven Bauer, thereby giving the show a new slant and hastening its cancellation. Still, Wiseguy is referenced by many critics and fans as one of the most literate, stylish, audacious, and fun cop shows of the late 80’s.