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Series / New York Undercover

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New York Undercover is a Dramatic Hour Long Detective Drama created by Dick Wolf and Kevin Arkadie that ran from 1994 to 1998 (four seasons). Two undercover detectives in New York City's Fourth Precinct, Julius Clarence "J.C." Williams and Eduardo "Eddie" Torres are assigned to investigate various crimes and gang-related cases by their superior, Lt. Virginia Cooper. They are joined by Det. Nina Moreno in season two and Det. Tommy McNamara in season three.

Along with dealing with the cases themselves, there are sub-plots dealing with the personal lives of Williams and Torres: Williams dealing with his ex-girlfriend Chantel and visiting their son, Gregory (just usually called G), and Torres usually interacting with his father Mike, a recovering heroin addict. Many episodes feature an R&B café called Natalie's, which is just an easy way for musical guest stars to get on the show (Natalie herself being played by Gladys Knight).

By the end of the season three finale, however, McNamara and Torres (the latter married to Nina and transferring to a new precinct) are killed off. At the start of the fourth season, everything changes. Williams and Moreno transfer to New York's Special Investigations Division answering to Lt. Malcolm Barker (and ultimately writing Cooper out of the show). They also work with Det. Nell Delaney and Det. Alec Stone. Natalie's and the musical guests that appeared were written out entirely as were any living reoccurring characters from the past three seasons except for G. As a result of all these changes, ratings for the show dramatically dropped, forcing Fox to cancel the series.


There are currently talks of a reboot in the works and that it is to air on ABC. Both Malik Yoba (Williams) and Lauren Velez (Moreno) have expressed interest in reprising their roles.

This show provides examples of:

  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: Lt. Barker in the final season.
  • Best Served Cold: The episode where Internal Affairs went after J.C. for the murder of Danny Cort had a Black staffer explain that years earlier two White cops had physically and verbally harassed him while on a date and laughed over what they did. In the present day, now as someone who held both of their jobs in his hands, explains to Torres what happened to them: while one was now a night watchman at a loading dock, the other Ate His Gun after losing his job.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Notable for being the first police drama on American television to feature two people of color in the starring roles.
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  • Celebrity Star: The musical guests from the first three seasons.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Said to an ex-con sex offender on the run by one of the cops.
  • Crossover: When Nina seeks counseling for her PTSD after being shot, her therapist is none other than Elizabeth Olivet of Law & Order (which was also created by Dick Wolf), meaning the two exist in a Shared Universe. Dr. Emil Skoda showed up occasionally as well.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Happens from time to time, but one episode had a particularly nasty example. It involved two rival motorcycle gangs and had members from one gang kill the family of one of the rival gang's members. As an act of revenge, the killers are then hanged by their arms and had a chain attached to each leg which was attached to a motorcycle. We know what happens next, even with the scene cutting to black over their agonized screams.
  • Da Chief: Lt. Cooper from seasons 1-3 and Lt. Barker in season 4.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Torres in the season 3 finale.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: In the aforementioned episode of the motorcycle gangs, after her mother is killed, the daughter then wanders out of her room, unbeknownst to what just occurred and holding a teddy bear. The next scene is of the bear slowly falling to the ground.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Many of the most vicious criminals still have loved ones that they genuinely care about.
    • Danny Cort had his kid brother, a law school student and their mother, who pretty much disowned him after her younger son's death.
    • Orlando Maldone, the drug lord who shot Nina in the season 2 finale, loved and doted on his young daughter, Lucia.
  • Fair Cop: To varying degrees and more realistic than the model-types frequently seen on other police shows, but overall, a very good-looking collection of officers.
  • Finger in the Mail: Danny Cort murdered and cut off the middle finger of a rival in the drug-dealing business and sent it to Williams.
  • Five-Token Band: Season 3 had Williams (a black man), Torres (a latino man), Lt. Cooper (a white woman), Moreno (a latino woman) and McNamara (a white man).
  • Flatline: This happened to Moreno in the season 2 finale and season 3 premiere. She was brought back via Magical Defibrillator.
  • The Infiltration: The team's undercover assignments.
  • In the Blood: Nina's mother is also a police officer.
  • It's Personal: Many of the cases, although the most personal case was between Williams and Danny-Up, with each man killing a loved one of the other and their rivalry stretching on between the first two seasons. One scene even had the latter kidnap Williams' ex-girlfriend and son and pulling the trigger of an empty gun against G's head just to screw with his parents.
  • Knight Templar Parent: An episode had a young supermodel end up being attacked and having her face slashed up. Even though there was a variety of suspects and the motive appeared to be jealousy, it was later discovered that her overprotective father attacked her, to get her out of the business.
  • Like Goes with Like: Played straight. Despite the multiracial cast, there was hardly anyone dating outside of their race. Season 4 did have Williams and Moreno briefly hook up, however.
  • Local Hangout: Natalie's, which had several popular classic and 90's recording artists performing at the club and who would give a performance as the closing credits rolled.
  • Malcolm Xerox: Minister Malik in the episode The Reckoning.
  • Mama Bear: When Lt. Cooper finally catches up to the man who kidnapped and sexually abused her teenage daughter, she shoots him before he can run her down in his car.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Simone, J.C.'s Romantic False Lead, who was little more than a pawn working for Danny Cort.
  • New Jack Swing: The show features some in its score and licensed tracks alongside hip hop and soul. Not surprising, since it was created by the record label that spearheaded the new jack swing movement, the now-defunct Uptown/MCA Records.
  • Nothing but Hits: Many, many of the music played throughout the show and even the musical guest star of the episode performing at Natalie's.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Lt. Cooper's eldest son died of leukemia at the age of eight.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: A given for a show created by Dick Wolf. Some notable cases included the JonBenet Ramsey case and the murder of Tupac Shakur.
  • The Rival: Williams and Danny Cort, oh so much and for very good reasons: Williams killed Danny's kid brother in self-defense and Danny killed Williams' pregnant fiancée to even the score.
  • Say My Name: Upon learning that Danny Cort was on the loose, J.C. cries out his fiancé's name. He could not save her, even as he was two rooms away.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Tommy McNamara was added onto the show by the network as they felt that they needed a White Male Lead to bring in more viewers of a wider demographic. Neither fans nor the crew ever warmed up to his addition and he was gone a season later.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge:
    • Tommy McNamara.
    • Sandy Gill, Williams' fiancee would count as well.
  • Teaser-Only Character: Most of the characters that are killed during the teaser.
  • Teen Pregnancy: J.C. and his former girlfriend Chantal had their son, G, when they were teenagers. The same thing happened to Nina and her daughter, only she was forced to give her up by her mother.
  • True Companions: All of them, specifically J.C. and Eddie.
  • Undercover Model: In a change of pace, it was one of the guys who was a model, not Moreno.
  • The 'Verse: The show is set in the Law & Order continuity thanks to both shows sharing the same psychologists.
  • Vigilante Execution: Played straight with J.C. killing Danny Cort, averted with Eddie, who had the man who shot Nina cornered, but shot away from him at the last moment.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: J.C. and G's relationship.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Danny Cort's mother felt this way about her elder son before and after his younger brother was murdered (as it was him who brought his brother into the world of drug dealing in the first place.)

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