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The Untouchables Stir Crazy

Eliot Ness' anti-crime force moves into a second season with 26 episodes in 182 markets, or 96% of the country, after last season's No. 2 spot among new, firstrun syndie fare. With Tom Amandes again cast as Ness and William Forsythe as Al Capone, first chapter's as weak as watered gin.

Eliot Ness’ anti-crime force moves into a second season with 26 episodes in 182 markets, or 96% of the country, after last season’s No. 2 spot among new, firstrun syndie fare. With Tom Amandes again cast as Ness and William Forsythe as Al Capone, first chapter’s as weak as watered gin.

Steve Bello’s strained, decidedly non-violent teleplay has Capone going off to the pen thanks to Ness’ prowess, with Capone’s longtime Brooklyn pal Frank Nitti (Paul Regina) taking charge, at Capone’s command, of the overall Chi crime org.

The ho-hum story alternates between Capone’s activities in jail, the mob’s actions under Nitti and Ness’ and his crimebusters’ attempts to jail Capone’s bagman.

Amandes’ Ness is tepid, and when addressing his men sounds like a cheerleader. Forsythe’s Capone looks cross, but it comes off as a put-on. He talks sotto voce about prison reform to a group of veterans’ mothers who, incredibly, believe him. Thesping comes across as “let’s pretend,” aside from Regina’s crisp Nitti.

Filmed well enough on locations Ness and Capone might have used in Chicago during their careers (dates get confused: an auto license plate says 1930, while Capone’s booking tag reads June 1929), initial episode displays the requisite fedoras and cars, but anachronistically falters occasionally in dialogue.

For a story about the breakup of a crime syndicate whose fortunes were made on bootlegging, prostitution and gambling, the preem is squeaky clean. With 25 episodes to go, there’d better be more action than a stuntmen falling off high spots and a girl popping back-to-camera nude out of a cake; as of now, the Untouchables and the Undesirables are tangling with the blahs.

The Untouchables Stir Crazy

(Tues. (5), 8-9 p.m., KCOP)

  • Production: Filmed in Chicago and at Chicago Studio City, Chicago, by Christopher Crowe Prods. and Paramount Network TV. Exec producer-developer, Christopher Crowe; co-exec producers, Steve Bello, Richard Brams, Alfonse Ruggiero Jr.; producer, Frederick J. Lyle; co-producer, Thomas R. Polizzi; director, Vern Gillum; writer , Bello; based on the TV series "The Untouchables" and on the books by Oscar Fraley, with Eliot Ness and Paul Robsky.
  • Crew: Camera, Mario Di Leo; editor, Barry Leirer; art director, Gary Baugh; sound, Glenn Williams; music, Joel Goldsmith; production designer, Anthony Cowley.
  • Cast: Cast: Tom Amandes, John Rhys-Davies, PaFul Regina, David James Elliot, John Haymes Newton, Nancy Everhard, William Forsythe, George Dzundza, Michael Horse, Hynden Walch, Rob Riley, Valentino Cimo, John Malloy, John Beasley, John Colella , Dick Sasso, Jon Polito, Rod Sell, Frank Loverde, Nancy Lollar, Si Osborne, Rich Komenich, Jim O'Heir, Paul Stroili.
  • Music By: