Total Security
Frank Cisco and Steve Wegman
Created by Steven Bochco, David Milch, Charles H. Eglee and Theresa Rebeck

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...

THE EVIDENCE

  • From the ABC blurb:

"From the creators of the Emmy Award-winning and groundbreaking "NYPD Blue," comes a colorful, new ensemble drama exploring the intense world of high-tech security.

When you need the best in professional and personal protection in Los Angeles, "Total Security" is the place to call. Dedicated and compassionate, FRANK CISCO (James Remar) heads this small, fledgling firm which employs private investigators, electronic experts and ex-cops. Though Cisco's newest hire, STEVE WEGMAN (James Belushi), lacks his own high principles and morals, even Cisco has to admit that Wegman's unscrupulous nature comes in handy every now and again. Their eclectic clientele includes everyone from elderly widows to heads-of-state, from celebrities to corporations.

And whether it requires installing home security, ensuring personal safety, investigating threats, making background checks, tracking down missing persons, or running a surveillance, the agents of "Total Security" take seriously their vow to serve and protect. "

TELEVISION

  • TOTAL SECURITY
    (1997, Steven Bochco Productions/20th Century Fox Television )
    6 episodes aired; 7 unaired
    Writers: Steven Bocho, David Milch, Charles H. Eglee, Theresa Rebeck, Doug Palan
    Directors: Joe Ann Foyle, Duane Clark
    Music: Mike Post
    Executive Consultant:
    David Milch
    Executive Producers: Steven Bochco, Charles E. Eglee, Michael Fresco
    Starring James Remar as FRANK CISCO
    James Belushi as STEVE WEGMAN
    Also starring
    Flex as Neville
    Debrah Farentino as Jody Kiplinger
    Bill Brochtrup as George LaSalle
    Tracey Needham as Ellie Jones
    Kristin Bauer as Geneva Renault
    and Tony Plana as Luis Escobar
    Guest Stars: Zelzko Ivanek, Lawrence Pressman
  • "Pilot" (September 27, 1997)
  • "One Wedding and a Funeral" (October 4, 1997)
  • "Dental Men Prefer Blondes" (October 11, 1997)
  • "Looking for Mr. Goombah" (October 18, 1997)
  • "Citizen Canine" (October 25, 1997)
  • "Who's Poppa?" (November 8, 1997
  • "Look Who's Stalking" (unaired)
  • "Das Bootie" (unaired)
  • "Evasion of the Body Snatchers" (unaired)
  • "Wet Side Story" (unaired)
  • "The Never Bending Story" (unaired)
  • "Do the Right Schwing" (unaired)
  • "A Man for Half a Season" (unaired)

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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