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New York Undercover
New York Undercover.jpg
The principal cast members from New York Undercover (Season 2)
Also known as Uptown Undercover
Genre Crime drama
Created by Kevin Arkadie
Dick Wolf
Starring Malik Yoba
(Seasons 1-4)
Michael DeLorenzo
(Seasons 1-3)
Patti D'Arbanville-Quinn
(Seasons 1-3)
George Gore II
(Seasons 1-4)
Lauren Vélez
(Seasons 2-4)
Jonathan LaPaglia
(Season 3)
Marisa Ryan
(Season 4)
Josh Hopkins
(Season 4)
Tommy Ford
(Season 4)
Theme music composer Seasons 1-3:
James Mtume
Dunn Pearson
Gregory Royal
Season 4:
James Mtume
Dunn Pearson
Composer(s) James Mtume
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 89 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Andre Harrell
Brad Kern
Dick Wolf
Producer(s) Kevin Arkadie
Arthur W. Forney
Peter R. McIntosh
Larry Moskowitz
Cinematography Glenn Kershaw
Edward J. Pei
Scott Williams
Running time 45–48 minutes
Production company(s) Cry Wolf
Universal Television
Wolf Films
Original channel Fox
Original run September 8, 1994 (1994-09-08) – June 25, 1998 (1998-06-25)
Status Ended
Related shows Law & Order

New York Undercover was an American police drama that aired on the Fox television network from 1994 to 1998. The series stars Malik Yoba as Detective J.C. Williams and Michael DeLorenzo as Detective Eddie Torres, two undercover detectives in New York City's 4th Precinct who were assigned to investigate various crimes and gang-related cases. The cast also included Patti D'Arbanville-Quinn as their boss, Lt. Virginia Cooper, and Lauren Vélez, who joined the cast in the second season as Nina Moreno, fellow detective and love interest to Torres.

New York Undercover, originally known as Uptown Undercover,[1] is notable for being the first police drama on American television to feature two people of color in the starring roles.[2] In contrast to the popularity of NBC's "Must See TV" on Thursday nights in the 1990s, many African-American viewers flocked to Fox's Thursday night line-up of Living Single, New York Undercover, and Martin. In fact, these were the three highest rated series among Black households (in this respective order) for the 1996-1997 season.[3]



Besides solving each week's case, the show, produced by Law & Order creator Dick Wolf, also explored the private lives of its characters. For example, Det. Williams struggled to raise his young son, Gregory (George O. Gore II), while Torres was shown to be fighting family and other related problems, including having to cope with his father's drug addiction and HIV-positive status and a childhood friend turned gang leader.

At the beginning of the third season, a new detective, Tommy McNamara (Jonathan LaPaglia), was introduced as a principal character. In the third-season finale in May 1997, Torres and Moreno were married. However, in that same episode, Torres and McNamara were both killed by a gang of bank robbers. Many viewers believe that these events—particularly the death of Torres and the departure of Michael DeLorenzo—caused New York Undercover to "jump the shark," since the friendship of Williams and Torres was a major dynamic of the series.

New York Undercover returned with a new cast for its Fourth and final season in January 1998. Williams and Moreno were assigned to a new unit, resulting in D'Arbanville-Quinn being dropped from the cast. Joining the detectives were Lt. Malcolm Barker (played by Tommy Ford), Det. Nell Delaney (Marisa Ryan), and Det. Alec Stone (Josh Hopkins). The new unit eventually captured the last bank robber responsible for the deaths of Torres and McNamara.

Main characters

  • Malik Yoba as Det. Julius Clarence "J.C." Williams – J.C. is an African-American in his late twenties. He has a son, Gregory, whom he fathered as a teenager with his then-girlfriend Chantal Tierney. His partner Eddie Torres is his closest friend. J.C. is the only character that appears in all 89 episodes.
  • Michael DeLorenzo as Det. Edward Torres (Seasons 1-3) – Born in the Bronx, Eddie is a Puerto Rican in his late thirties. After years of estrangement from much of his immediate family, he formed close relationships with his brother Jimmy, a priest; his sister Carmen, a journalist; and his father Mike, a musician and recovering drug addict. His partner J.C. Williams is his closest friend.
  • Patti D'Arbanville-Quinn as Lt. Virginia Cooper (Seasons 1-3) – Virginia is an Irish Catholic in her mid-forties. She is married with three children, one of whom died at the age of eight. She is the commanding officer of the detective squad at the NYPD's 4th Precinct.
  • Lauren Vélez as Det. Nina Moreno (Seasons 2-4) – Nina is a Puerto Rican in her late twenties. At the age of sixteen, she was married and gave birth to a daughter, Melissa Lewis. She gave up the girl for adoption after her husband abandoned her. Her mother is a sergeant with the NYPD.
  • Jonathan LaPaglia as Det. Tommy McNamara (Season 3) – Tommy is an Irish-Italian American in his late twenties. His father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty, with many suspecting that the man was corrupt. Prior to his transfer to the 4th Precinct, he had very little interaction with New York's African-American and Latino neighborhoods or police officers.
  • Marisa Ryan as Det. Nell Delaney (Season 4) – Nell is a 22 year old Irish American. She lied about her age upon entering the police academy, but the NYPD chose to overlook this when she was exposed years later.
  • Josh Hopkins as Det. Alec Stone (Season 4)
  • Tommy Ford as Lt. Malcolm Barker (Season 4) – Malcolm is an African-American in his mid-forties. He is the commanding officer of the NYPD's Special Investigations Division. Most of the S.I.D.'s operations are covert, and he frequently instructs his officers to "lie, cheat, [and do] whatever it takes" to close a case.

Recurring characters



  • George Gore II as Gregory "G" Williams – Gregory is the son of J.C. Williams and Chantal Tierney. In the pilot episode, he is described as a nine year old. For most of Season 1, his given age is 10. By the beginning of Season 3, his given age is 13. He is the only recurring character that appears in all four seasons.
  • Michael Michele as Sandra Gill (Season 1) – Sandy is an attorney in her late twenties. Throughout Season 1, she was involved with J.C. Williams. She became pregnant with J.C.'s baby and agreed to marry him, but was murdered on the eve of her wedding by a criminal with a grudge against J.C.
  • Fatima Faloye as Chantal Tierney (Seasons 1-3) – Chantal is a registered nurse in her late twenties. She has a son, Gregory, to whom she gave birth as a teenager with her then-boyfriend J.C. Williams.
  • Roger Robinson as Col. Williams (Season 3) – An officer with the United States Army Special Forces, he is the father of J.C. Williams. He abandoned his wife and son, and did not contact J.C. again for 17 years.
  • José Perez as Mike Torres (Seasons 1-3) – Mike is a jazz and salsa musician, and a recovering drug addict. Having alienated much of his family over the years, he is closest to his son Eddie.
  • José Zúñiga as Father Jimmy Torres (Seasons 1-2) – Jimmy is a Catholic priest, and the older brother of Eddie Torres.
  • Lisa Vidal as Carmen Torres (Seasons 1-2) – Carmen is a newspaper reporter, and the sister of Eddie Torres.
  • Nancy Ticotin as Teresa Torres Rivera (Seasons 1 and 3) – Teresa is the well-to-do sister of Eddie Torres.
  • Zoe Dora Lukov (Season 3) as Melissa Lewis – Melissa is the biological daughter of Nina Moreno, who gave birth to the girl as a teenager and gave her up for adoption.
  • Marina Durell as Sgt. Sonia Moreno (Seasons 2-3) – A sergeant with the NYPD, she is the mother of Nina Moreno.
  • Dean Winters as Paul Delany (Season 4) – A firefighter with the FDNY, he is the brother of Nell Delany.
  • Jennifer Esposito as Gina Stone (Season 4) – The former lover of Alec Stone, she is now married to his brother Frankie Stone.
  • Justin Theroux as Frankie Stone (Season 4) – An organized crime boss with the Brooklyn-based Damico Family, he is the brother of Alec Stone.

Law enforcement personnel

  • Frank Pellegrino as Det. Ricciarelli (Seasons 1-2)
  • Jim Moody as Det. Otis "Old School" Washington (Season 1)
  • Gilbert Lewis as Det. Otis "Old School" Washington (pilot episode only)
  • Lee Wong as Medical Examiner Wong (Seasons 1-3)
  • James Saito as Det. Chang (Season 1)
  • Michelle Hurd as A.D.A. Reynolds (Seasons 1-2)
  • Edie Falco as Sgt. Kelly (Seasons 2-3)
  • James McCaffrey as Capt. Arthur O'Byrne (Season 3)
  • Joe Lisi as Chief of Detectives (Season 4)
  • Jon M. McDonnell as Detective Wilcox (Seasons 1-3)


  • John Costelloe as John Santucci (Seasons 1-3) – Santucci is an organized crime boss connected to the Gambino Family. He was a childhood acquaintance of Eddie Torres, and there is personal animus between the two.
  • Ice-T as Danny "Danny-Up" Cort (Seasons 1-2) – A chemistry whiz, Cort was a rising drug kingpin until being apprehended by detectives from the 4th Precinct. After J.C. Williams killed his brother in a police shootout, Cort retaliated by murdering his pregnant fiancée Sandy Gill.
  • Giancarlo Esposito as Adolfo Guzman (Season 2) – Guzman was a childhood rival of Eddie Torres, and as an adult became a criminal associate of John Santucci. The animus between Eddie and Guzman multiplied when Guzman attempted to take over Mike Torres' nightclub.
  • Naomi Campbell as Simone Jeffers (Season 2) – Sometime after Sandy Gill’s death, Jeffers seduced J.C. Williams as part of a revenge plot enacted by Danny Cort.
  • Dana Eskelson as Nadine Jordan (Seasons 3-4) – Jordan was a part of a highly skilled bank robbery team, and was responsible for the murder of Tommy McNamara. Every member of her crew was captured or killed, but she escaped. In retaliation, she killed Eddie Torres, becoming the primary enemy of J.C. Williams (Eddie’s best friend) and Nina Moreno (Eddie’s bride).


  • Victor Colicchio as "Slick Rick" (Season 1) – One of Eddie Torres’ confidential informants.
  • Gladys Knight as Natalie (Season 1) – The original owner of Natalie’s, the nightclub which appears in virtually every episode of the series’ first three seasons.
  • Rosanna Scotto as Herself (Seasons 1-3) – She is a television reporter for Fox 5 New York.

Multiple-role players

Numerous actors made appearances in two or more episodes portraying different characters. Before joining the cast in Season 2 as Nina Moreno, Lauren Vélez appeared in the first-season episode "Olde Tyme Religion" as a believer in Santeria. Additionally, J.K. Simmons guest starred as Sgt. Treadway in the Season 2 episode "Unis", returning in Season 4's "Mob Street" as Law & Order police psychiatrist Emil Skoda on New York Undercover. Michelle Hurd had a recurring role in Seasons 1 and 2 as A.D.A. Reynolds, but returned as a criminal in Season 3's "No Place Like Hell". Joe Lisi appeared in the second-season episode "Bad Blood" before assuming a recurring role as the Chief of Detectives in Season 4.

The following actors also appeared in multiple roles:



Each episode of the first three seasons of New York Undercover featured several hip hop and R&B songs for its soundtrack, with noted musician-producer James Mtume serving as musical director. Each episode during Seasons 1 through 3 began with a montage of scenes leading up to the crime to be investigated. These sequences were notable for the absence of any dialogue or sound effects and are accompanied instead by music, usually hip-hop or R&B. This method of introducing the plot was dropped in the fourth season.

At some point during each episode, one or more of the principal characters would end up at Natalie's, a popular New York R&B café owned by Gladys Knight's character Natalie, where a popular artist would perform a set. Among the artists featured on the show during its run were Aaron Neville, New Edition, Amel Larrieux, Johnny Gill, Levert, The O'Jays, Montell Jordan, Aaliyah, Chaka Khan, Groove Theory, Erykah Badu, The Temptations, Gladys Knight, George Benson, Boyz II Men, Mary J. Blige, Xscape, The Notorious B.I.G., Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, 112, Monifah, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, George Clinton, Brandy, Tevin Campbell, the P-Funk All-Stars and others. The two exceptions were a first-season episode, where The Notorious B.I.G. performs at a rap concert, and the two-episode third-season premiere, where Kirk Franklin and the Family portray a church choir.

In the first-season episode "The Eyewitness Blues," Salli Richardson portrays a popular singer in need of police protection from a professional killer. This is the only episode from the first three seasons without a musical performance by a recording artist. In this episode, Richardson does the singing herself.

Awards and nominations

New York Undercover won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Drama Series in both 1996 and 1997. Malik Yoba won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for starring in this series in 1996, 1997, and 1998.

For their supporting roles as recurring characters on the show, Fatima Faloye and Ice-T were awarded the NAACP's awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, respectively, in 1996.


Reruns of the series currently air on TV One and Sí TV cable networks. In 2008, the series began airing on Sleuth. Since January 1, 2008, New York Undercover has been aired on RTL's digital RTL Crime channel which shows reruns of RTL and American crime series such as Alarm für Cobra 11, The Clown and Forensic Files.


  1. ^ Owen, Rob (1997). Gen X TV: The Brady Bunch to Melrose Place. Syracuse University Press. pp. 90. ISBN 0-815-60443-2. 
  2. ^ "Hip-Hop Cops", TV Guide, Oct. 15, 1994, at p. 29.
  3. ^ "How Blacks Differ From Whites in TV Show Choices", Jet, Mar. 17, 1997, at p. 54.

External links


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