Sunday, October 03, 2010


This is a rerun of a 2009 post in tribute to the late Stephen J. Cannell.

The entire NBC run of UNSUB was only about eight one-hour episodes. It was produced by Stephen J. Cannell during the period in which he was shooting everything in Vancouver. The production values of Cannell's shows were never among TV's best in the first place, and the cinematography, sets, etc. looked even worse once he got to Canada. UNSUB was a relatively decent series, however, and quite unusual among Cannell's oeuvre.

UNSUB (the title stands for "Unknown Subject," as indicated in the ad seen here) is basically C.S.I. MEETS MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. I wouldn't be surprised if somebody at CBS remembered UNSUB, which aired quickly and quietly on NBC in 1989, when the original C.S.I.: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION was created. And if you're thinking that's a stretch, keep in mind another current CBS crime drama, COLD CASE, is an almost exact ripoff of a current Canadian cop show titled COLD SQUAD.

UNSUB starred David Soul, the STARSKY & HUTCH star who was still an in-demand television lead in 1989 (he had recently starred opposite Rock Hudson in the NBC miniseries WORLD WAR III), as the leader of an elite group of federal crimefighters who investigated serial killings all over the country. Among his supporting cast were the great character actor M. Emmet Walsh (BLOOD SIMPLE), seen left in the ad, as a crusty old ex-homicide cop, and Kent McCord (ADAM-12), to the right of Soul, as a forensic scientist. Kevin Spacey guest-starred in one episode, "Clean Slate," in a dual role as twin brothers, one "good" who was dying of cancer and one "bad" who was blowing people up. UNSUB's best outing is probably "And the Dead Shall Rise to Condemn Thee," in which the late Jason Bernard played a priest who may be involved in murder.

Surprisingly, UNSUB was recently released on DVD as part of PRIME TIME CRIME: THE STEPHEN J. CANNELL COLLECTION. For not much money, you can pick up the entire runs of four shortlived Cannell series: UNSUB, MISSING PERSONS, PALACE GUARD, and BROKEN BADGES. Plus, sample episodes from other Cannell shows including HUNTER, THE COMMISH (starring Michael Chiklis), THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO, and SILK STALKINGS. It's definitely worth the price, and is a terrific Cannell starter set.


Anonymous said...

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PS. are you gonna watch 24 without us.---rockgoddess

AndyDecker said...

This sounds also a lot like Criminal Minds, right down to the Unsub :-)