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Series / Players

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Players is a TV drama that ran on NBC from October 1997 to May 1998. It revolved around three convicts—Isaac "Ice" Gregory (played by Ice-T), Alphonse Royo (Costas Mandylor), and Charlie O'Bannon (Frank John Hughes)—who were paroled to the FBI to use their skills to catch other cons. After the pilot (based in New York), the trio worked in Los Angeles under Agent Christine "Chris" Kowalski (Mia Korf). Episodes were basically bad-guy-of-the-week fare, though there was some character development throughout.

Ice-T also co-created the series with Reggie Rock Bythewood, Shaun Cassidy and Dick Wolf.

Not related to the 2022 Paramount+ series also called Players, created by Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda.

This show features examples of:

  • Batman Gambit: In the pilot, Isaac realizes they were set up to take the fall for stealing bonds. The true crook intended to fake the bonds being destroyed in a fire; the group gets all the blame for the theft, and he can safely cash bonds that the authorities have no reason to look for. While busting the guy, Isaac concedes it was all actually rather clever "for an amateur" and that he was only able to find out and turn it around on him due to stumbling onto some evidence.
    Isaac: The simplest way for us to play you was to make you think your plan was workin'. [...] First rule of con, baby: always let the mark think he's in control.
  • Boxed Crook: Three cons use their unique skills on behalf of the FBI so that they can stay out of prison.
  • Disguised in Drag: In the pilot, while Charlie is doing his part at the bank, a brunette in red is occasionally shown walking around. It turns out to be Alphonse, who says the red dress was the only thing he could find in his size.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Charlie and his con man dad, Milo, who had him working cons even as a kid.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Christine "Chris" Kowalski
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode after the pilot had a title that contained "Con" in some way.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: On occasion, there will be friction amongst the trio during a job, due to tactics and contrasting personalities. As Isaac said in the pilot, the possibility of ending up in jail frays the nerves a bit.
  • Wire Dilemma: In "Con-tamination," Charlie has to defuse a bomb that he himself designed... unfortunately, the builder of the bomb used yellow and green wires, instead of the red and blue of the blueprint, so Charlie is unsure which wire to cut.