We’ve been eagerly waiting for two of the best crime show series to be released on dvd, “CRIME STORY” and “WISEGUY”. Thankfully, at least one of them, “WISEGUY” has made it onto dvd in an extended form. “WISEGUY: SEASON ONE, PART 1” has been released by Ventura Distribution.

Unlike many shows before or since, “WISEGUY” offered unique storytelling, in which individual episodes often stood on their own as great entertainment, even for a new viewer, with absolutely no knowledge of previous storylines.

Ken Wahl stars as Special Agent Vincent Terranova, a cop so “deep” in his undercover ruse, that he’s actually just served 18 months of hard time to strengthen his concocted criminal background.  Following his release, he ends up working for a mob family, the “Steelgraves”, run by two brothers.  One of the brothers,  “Sonny” takes a real liking to Vinnie, convinced he’s the real thing after repeated, dangerous acts he’s taken to prove himself.
The relationship that’s built between Vinny and Sonny is terrific! It makes for one of the best developed story arcs in television history!  Their relationship and the way in which it unfolds, is reminiscent of the best mob films.

As confidence is built between the two, a sense of real family is conveyed.  After all, Sonny seems more concerned about Vinnie at times than do his own people!  The give-and-pull of this relationship, as Sonny’s actions to gain more control and survive, help make the viewer even more intrigued as to what’s going to eventually happen if and when the ultimate sting is revealed.

The entire cast is great, but even supporting players, including the young, beautiful Annette Benning, make it even more attractive.

VENTURER has released this boxed set in a “Digipack” offering 13 episodes and two separate episodes from other seasons.  It’s a bit confusing as to why the show hasn’t been released as just a “complete” season basis, but it’s doubtful anyone watching this will have doubts about getting every set released.

VENTURER has preserved the show’s original 1.33:”1 aspect ratio.  Colors are solid, but occasionally muted.  The contrast is fine, but some of the darkest scenes vary in detail quality. Fleshtones appear natural throughout.

VENTURER has presented a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 mix as well as a 2.0 mix.  While neither is very aggressive in terms of surround/separation effects, the 5.1 mix clearly has the edge, offering better fidelity and clarity. There are minor surround effects on occasion.  Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.

VENTURER has thrown in some extras for this release.  Ken Wahl actually provides commentary for two episodes, “THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL” and “NO ONE GET’S OUT OF HERE ALIVE”, two of the best!  Wahl comes across as a really decent guy, often offering praise for his co-workers, but it’s not an overly engaging commentary, with frequent quiet passages.

A blooper reel has been included as well as some quick interviews, including one with the prolific producer, creator, writer, Stephen J. Cannell.