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Tenspeed and Brown Shoe
Tenspeed and Brown Shoe title screen
Genre Detective fiction/Comedy
Created by Stephen J. Cannell
Written by Stephen J. Cannell
Shel Willens
Directed by Reza Badiyi
Georg Stanford Brown
Chuck Bowman
Ivan Dixon
Rod Holcomb
Arnold Laven
John Patterson
E.W. Swackhamer
Harry Winer
Starring Ben Vereen
Jeff Goldblum
Composer(s) Pete Carpenter
Mike Post
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 14
Executive producer(s) Stephen J. Cannell
Producer(s) Juanita Bartlett
Alex Beaton
Chuck Bowman
Running time approx. 50 minutes
(per episode)
Original channel ABC
Original run January 27, 1980 – June 27, 1980

Tenspeed and Brown Shoe is an American detective/comedy series originally broadcast by the ABC network between January through June 1980. The series was created and executive produced by Stephen J. Cannell.



The one-hour program revolved around two detectives who had their own detective agency in Los Angeles. E.L ("Early Leroy") "Tenspeed" Turner (Ben Vereen) was a hustler who worked as a detective to satisfy his parole requirements. His partner Lionel "Brownshoe" Whitney (Jeff Goldblum) was an archetypal accountant, complete with button-down collars and a nagging fiancee (at least for the pilot episode), who had always wanted to be a 1940s-style Bogart P.I. He was sharper than he seemed, although a little naïve and more reasonable than his career path demanded, and had picked up karate to Black Belt standard.

Produced by Stephen J. Cannell in association with Paramount Television (one of only two such collaborations), Tenspeed and Brown Shoe was heavily promoted by ABC at the time it premiered in late January 1980. The series attracted a substantial audience for its first few episodes (indeed, the series was the 29th most-watched program of the 1979–80 U.S. television season, according to Nielsen ratings), but viewership dropped off substantially after that and the series was not renewed for the 1980–81 season.[1]

The show had some broad similarities to the later television series Simon & Simon and Moonlighting, in that it was a lightly dramatic program with many comedic moments about two dissimilar detectives who attempt to solve cases together.



No. Title Directed by: Written by: Original airdate
1 "Tenspeed and Brownshoe (Part 1)" E.W. Swackhamer Stephen J. Cannell Janaury 27th, 1980
E.L. is out of prison and quickly involved in a new scam - stealing a million dollars from the Mob. Unfortunately, he's unaware that the Mob got it from fencing Nazi diamonds. Meanwhile, accountant Lionel Whitney is in town to get married to his dominating fiance, and quickly finds his plans gone awry when Tenspeed hides the diamonds in his limousine. Both groups are now after both him and Tenspeed. 
2 "Tenspeed and Brownshoe (Part 2)" E.W. Swackhamer Stephen J. Cannell January 27th, 1980
Lionel finds himself being pursued by Nazis and mobsters who are after the diamonds that Tenspeed hid on him. Lionel manages to talk Tenspeed into doing the right thing by appealing to his conscience (such as it is) and running a scam to get everyone arrested. With Tenspeed out on parole and needing a job, Lionel decides to finance a new detective agency with the reward money to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a hard-boiled detective. 
3 "Robin Tucker's Roseland Roof and Ballroom Murders" Arnold Laven Stephen J. Cannell February 3rd, 1980
Lionel and E.L. form a detective agency and get their first case: an unidentified man who is willing to pay lots of money to find a woman. 
4 "Savage Says: There's No Free Lunch" John Patterson Stephen J. Cannell February 10th, 1980
Lionel takes a fancy to a client who claims someone is trying to kill her and then leads Lionel and E.L. around in circles while putting killers on their trail. 
5 "Savage Says: What are Friends For?" Reza Badiyi Shel Willens March 2nd, 1980
Lionel and E.L. must deal with a motorcycle gang when a nervous stockbroker asks Lionel to check out two of his clients who threatened him when he asked them for needed tax information. 
6 "The Sixteen Byte Data Chip and the Brown-eyed Fox" Arnold Laven Rudolph Bongheri March 9th, 1980
Pressure is put on Lionel and E.L. to create a phony investigation for their client: a woman looking for her missing brother who was working on a super computer. 
7 "The Millionaire's Life" Georg Stanford Brown Stephen J. Cannell March 16th, 1980
When E.L. uses a con to collect the rent money, he picks the wrong mark and gets himself and Lionel involved with the mob. 
8 "Savage Says: The Most Dangerous Bird is the Jailbird" Reza Badiyi Stephen J. Cannell March 23rd, 1980
A mobster goes after Lionel and E.L. after they help his girl friend dump him so she can run off with a lounge singer. 
9 "It's Easier to Pass an Elephant Through the Eye of a Needle Than a Bad Check in Bel Air" Ivan Dixon Juanita Bartlett March 30th, 1980
E.L.'s nephew's appearance is concurrent with that of thugs who are after a book which E.L. knows nothing about. 
10 "Loose Larry's List of Losers" Rod Holcomb Stephen J. Cannell May 20th, 1980
Lionel receives a hot birthday present from E.L., while E.L.'s probation officer is trying to find a way to get E.L. put back in prison. 
11 "This One's Gonna Kill Ya" Stephen J. Cannell Stephen J. Cannell June 6th, 1980
Someone tries to kill Lionel and E.L. after Lionel decides to solve a forty-year-old murder case involving a celebrated beauty queen. 
12 "The Untitled Episode" Rod Holcomb Stephen J. Cannell,
Juanita Bartlett
June 13th, 1980
E.L. comes up with a get rich quick scheme when he learns that the Agency's cleaning lady is a descendant of the Russian royal family. 
13 "The Treasure of Sierra Madre Street" Harry Winer Gordon T. Dawson June 20th, 1980
Lionel and E.L. set out to discover if a "random" killing by a mental patient was in fact the work of a hired killer. 
14 "Diamonds Aren't Forever" Chuck Bowman Juanita Bartlett June 27th, 1980
E.L. helps Lionel impress his visiting parents by arranging for him to gain access to a luxurious office, belonging to diamond thieves, which Lionel can claim as his own. 

DVD Release

On March 9, 2010, Mill Creek Entertainment will release Tenspeed and Brown Shoe- The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. [1]


  • Lionel regularly read pulp detective novels of the lurid, garish 1940s type, and his reading of their prose was often used as a comedy voice over by Goldblum. The author photograph was Cannell himself, in a gently self-mocking skit, and the author appeared in person at a police station, again in a cameo appearance by Cannell.
  • Ben Vereen would later reprise his role as Tenspeed Turner on J.J. Starbuck in 1988, another television series created by Cannell. Similarly, Richard Romanus would reprise his role of "Crazy" Tommy Tedesco on The A-Team A similarly named character would appear some time later on The Hat Squad.
  • The DVD release happened on March 9th, 2010, exactly thirty years from the airing of Episode 6.

Award nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1981 Edgar Award Nominated Best Television Episode Stephen J. Cannell (For episode "Tenspeed and Brown Shoe")


  1. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (1999). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-present. Ballantine Books. p. 1012. ISBN 0-345-42923-0.  

External links

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