1963. Lieutenant Mike Torello leads the Major Crimes Unit of the Chicago Police Department. The first file on his desk is that of Ray Luca, a grueling victor in the city's formidable criminal underworld. Luca is a minor figure in organized crime in Chicago, but Torello realizes his plan to be realized: Luca wants to monopolize the illegal gambling industry and intends to locate the headquarters of this network of bets in Las Vegas. Torello and Luca are rivals, but everyone develops a kind of admiration for each other and his method. They are both injured putting work above all else; they wander the usual streets at night. Luca's search for Torello turns from an assignment to an obsession.
1986. Producer Michael Mann rules television waves with Miami vice, a show that, as the legend says, was born from two words scrawled on a napkin: "MTV Cops". Miami vice he has his share of critics: he is too violent, too flashy, too pop, and Miami officials are shocked by the way he describes their city. Still, it's a success, and NBC gave Mann white paper to produce whatever it wants. With History of crime, his next project, would have cashed that check to show that his detractors were wrong. The story that Mann chose to put on the air was that of Torello and Luca, a classic police and criminal dichotomy that would set the stage for decades of television series to come, and to establish the subject that would have defined Mann's career from there.
Where is it Miami vice brought the procedural police into the future – flashy clothes, great melodies, lots of style – History of crime has gone back in time, and although it is the least known of the two series, it has revolutionized the genre at the molecular level, while Miami vice achieved the same only on the surface. Two decades earlier The Sopranos is The cable, History of crime it was one of the first serialized early evening dramas to abandon the procedural format and tell a story a long one.
Directed by Abel Ferrara, who will soon leave his wrong mark on the genre of crime with film like Bad Lieutenant is King of New York, the 90-minute pilot of History of crime has been seen by over 30 million viewers. Friday night on NBC became Mann's night, with History of crime following Miami vice. The show was a stable for new hot talents and presented the first performances of future TV directors such as David Caruso, Dennis Haysbert and David Hyde Pierce, as well as upcoming stars such as Julia Roberts, Ving Rhames and Christian Slater. A young Andrew says Clay – at that time all the clay, nothing to do – appeared in a regular supporting role as Jewish gangster Max Goodman. Even Miles Davis made a cameo.
Later in his first season, History of crime he was moved to Tuesday night, where he played against ABC Moonlighting, then in its third season. Moonlighting he had become a juggernaut, collecting 16 Emmy nominations for his second season, during which he broke the Nielsen Top 10 for the first and only time. The move was a death knell for History of crime, which was canceled after its second season; Mann's plan to blow up the show from 1964 to 1980 was also discarded. Despite its innovative narrative, History of crime has remained dormant in the graveyard of TV history since then due to licensing issues, and has never really received the widest recognition it deserves. With the series now available on Amazon Prime – his first time on a streaming platform – it's time to change.
Each episode of History of crime starts the same way: a booming male voice perfectly sums up the episode from the previous week before announcing, "Tonight, go away Crime Story. "Each episode ends in the same way: a still image, marked with the words" To Be Continued … "in red. These three words are what was done History of crime different from any other show on television – every story had to be continued. Each episode required knowledge of previous episodes. Prime-time television had gone through several episodes, but no one had ever really tried anything like this, which in its form was almost more like soap operas than police procedures. Presumably inspired by Rainer Werner Fassbinder's miniseries lasting 15 and a half hours Berlin Alexanderplatz, History of crime it was extensive and fictional in a way no television program had ever been before. It required a certain loyalty and dedication from his audience that other police shows did not have – History of crime I asked you to tune in, to keep up and pay attention. It made you take it seriously.
Mann executive produced History of crime, but the concept came from a script by Gustave Reininger, a former Wall Street banker, and Chuck Adamson, a Chicago police officer who had worked as a technical consultant in Mann's 1981 film Thief. (Adamson's experiences in pursuing a thief called "McCauley" would later be inspired Heat.) Thief he had introduced Mann not only to Adamson, but also to Dennis Farina, another Chicago police officer and former partner of Adamson. He was also a technical consultant for the film and had a small role in it, his first acting concert. Farina continued with strength afterwards Thief, with night work as a player in the TV movies and the vehicle Chuck Norris Code of silence, but he hung up his real life uniform forever when Mann called again, offering the starring role of Mike Torello.
Farina was a different kind of protagonist, not quite like in Crockett and Tubbs fashion; his New York Times obituary attributed his success as an actor to his "tired belief of the world and a convincing connection of nose and mustache". It is exactly her real life experience that makes Farina a natural choice History of crime: His eyes communicated a certain kind of tiredness and intensity that could only come from a real and experienced detective. Farina had a quiet charisma, a dignity earned by the visible experience on her worn face, but above all, on the screen, she simply felt like a boy doing a job.
History of crime also the performance of John Santucci in the role of Pauli Taglia, the go-to of Ray Luca. A former jewel thief and career criminal, Santucci had been one of the busts of Farina and Adamson. The extended secure cracking sequence in Thief, recreated in the pilot episode of History of crime, is based on a real robbery in which Santucci cut a vault door with a thermal lance. He will continue to resume acting for all the years, including the parts Miami vice and Mann's later television film THERE. Takedown, until he was arrested in 1996 for breaking into the vending machines of a Chicago Hyatt. (History of crime also presented a cameo by William Hanhardt, a senior Chicago police officer who shares the difference between a policeman and a criminal; in 2001, Hanhardt became the highest official to plead guilty to having a national jewelry theft ring.)
The presence of former policemen and criminals in History of crime lends to the series a certain documentary tactility, one of Mann's signatures. His characters speak the secret languages of their professions. Torello is rude and ruthless, uninhibited by any standards of decency or legality in his search for Luca, which is a bit worrying given Farina's past. Mann's work regularly concerns the fine line between policemen and criminals and the creative collaborations they have made History of crime It is possible to illustrate how little often there is a difference between breaking the law and enforcing it.
History of crime unlocked the gates for shows like Wise boy, Twin peaks, is X-Files, the rebel police prosecutors. His gritty realism would be carried on by people of the caliber of Murders: life on the street is NYPD Blue. But his most important contribution, the three words "continue …" at the end of each single episode, influenced almost every subsequent prime-time drama. Though History of crime it wasn't the first series to flash those words on the screen – every show from Dallas to Brady's deck had made a multi-episode arc – the idea of a story that apparently continued without end or resolution in sight was new.
In fact, the conflict of the show is partly provided by the problem of serialization: in the second episode, Torello wants to devote his efforts exclusively to Luca's arrest, but is distracted by the emergence of a psychotic serial killer. Torello wants to engage in a single case, just as the show wants to follow a single story, but the demands of the police procedural format both force them to make detours. History of crime it didn't last long, but it showed that the public had not only patience, but the appetite for a 22-hour narrative. Since then it has become a cliché to refer to prestigious dramas as novels, but when it comes to long-term television storytelling, History of crime wrote the book.