Lionel Whitney & E.L. Turner
(Tenspeed & Brown Shoe)

Created by Stephen J. Cannell (1941-2010)

In this fondly remembered but short-lived 1980 TV show, Jeff Goldblum starred as the very naive, bored, terminally-square stockbroker LIONEL "BROWNSHOE" WHITNEY with fantasies of becoming a hardboiled private eye like his hero, Mark Savage.

Ben Vereen was the hip, jive-talkin' fast walkin' black hustler E.L. (EARLY LEROY) "TENSPEED" TURNER who was more than happy to string Lionel along in hopes of a big score.

Somewhere along the line, though, the two become friends, and actually do open a detective agency, in Stephen J. Cannell's entertaining spoof of -- and affectionate hommage to -- the P.I. genre, Tenspeed and Brown Shoe.

There were high hopes for this one, and it was Cannell's first series as a production company. But it lasted less than a full season. And that's too bad. It was a class act -- its clever dialogue and slightly loopy plots even earned it an Edgar Award nomination from the Mystery Writers of America in 1981.

Tenspeed did pop up seven years later, though, in another Cannell PI show, J.J. Starbuck.

TRIVIA

  • The books about Lionel's fictional detective hero, Mark Savage, are written by series' creator Stephen J. Cannell and feature his mug on the back covers.

TELEVISION

  • TENSPEED AND BROWN SHOE
    (1980, ABC)
    1 120-minute pilot
    12 60-minute episodes
    Created by Stephen J. Cannell
    Writers: Stephen J. Cannell
    Directors: Stephen J. Cannell, Rod Holcomb, Harry Winer
    Music: Mike Post and Pete Carpenter
    Producers: Stephen J. Cannell, Alex Beaton, Chuck Bowman, Juanita Bartlett
    Starring Jeff Goldblum as Lionel "Brownshoe" Whitney
    and Ben Vereen as E.L. (Early LeRoy) "Tenspeed" Turner
    with Woody Eney as Larry Craig
    Also starring Jayne Meadows, Larry Manetti, Robert Alda, James Whitmore Jr.
    Guest stars: Stephen J. Cannell, Rene Auberjonois, Red West, Lewis Arquette

  • "Tenspeed and Brown Shoe"
    (120-minute pilot; January 27, 1980)

  • Season One)..Buy the DVD
  • "Robin Tucker's Roseland Roof and Ballroom Murders" (February 3, 1980)
  • "Savage Says: There's No Free Lunch" (February 10, 1980)
  • "Savage Says: What Are Friend's For?" (March 2, 1980)
  • "The Sixteen Byte Data Chip and the Brown-eyed Fox" (March 9, 1980)
  • "The Millionaire's Life" (March 16, 1980)
  • "Savage Says: The Most Dangerous Bird is the Jailbird" (March 23, 1980)
  • "It's Easier to Pass an Elephant Through the Eye of a Needle Than a Bad Check in Bel Air" (March 30, 1980)
  • "Loose Larry's List of Losers" (May 30, 1980)
  • "This One's Gonna Kill Ya" (June 6, 1980)
  • "Untitled"(June 13, 1980)
  • "The Treasure of Sierra Madre Street" (June 20, 1980)
  • "Diamonds Aren't Forever" (June 27, 1980)

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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