Yet another attempt to revive the private eye genre, ABC's 1997 Total Security focussed on the escapades of a serious, by-the-book brooding former cop, FRANK CISCO (played with tight-lipped intensity by Terminator's James Remar) with a small, fledgling private security firm who reluctantly hires his loose-cannon pal STEVE WEGMAN as his chief investigator.
The comedy and dramatic conflict was supposed to ensue from the fact that Steve, as played by Jim Belushi, was something of a scoundrel and a fuck-up (think a dumber Jim Rockford), an affable doofus too easily lead around by his dick, not above boinking the woman he's supposed to be tailing.
The gimmick (all post-1990s P.I. shows evidently need one) was that Total Security may have been the first series in years revolving around an entire agency, arguably the first since the days of 77 Sunset Strip.
And the producers made sure that the agency was full of interesting characters: Neville was the easy-going techie with the high top fade, George was the nervous accountant, perpetually demanding that Frank take in more lucrative cases, Jody Kipling was a recent widow/workaholic, throwing herself into her work (and possibly the arms of her boss), Geneva was the wide-eyed, slighty-intimidated receptionist trying to keep it all running smoothly and Josie was the blonde bombshell whose looks bely the steeltrap mind and professional dedication.
With its large cast and numerous interwoven storylines, it was often an ambitious and entertaining, if somewhat uneven, blend of comedy and drama; part Steve Bochco's own Hill Street Blues and part Joe Gores' DKA. And the "gimmick" -- such as it was -- was refreshingly straight-forward, making the show possibly the "straightest" private eye series on the tube in years. As usual, I had my hopes up high. I figured, "Hey, once they work out the kinks, this could be a something good."
Remar, in particular, was well-cast. His slow-burn, stick-up-his-ass rectitude played nicely off the revolving assortment of eccentric investigators and clients that paraded through the show.
Alas, after a too-brief run, the show was -- predictably -- cancelled. Too bad. It definitely coulda been a contender.
Then again, in what looks like a last-ditch effort to gain a younger audience, the careful balance and drama and comedy was chucked out the window, and the "humour" cranked up: a good-looking high school age kid (no doubt intended to appeal to the "kids") was introduced to the agency, as a would-be P.I.
Maybe they pulled the plug just in time...
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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