Crime Story was a valiant attempt by Miami Vice producer Michael Mann to present a compelling police drama series in a serialized fashion. Introduced as a two-hour TV movie on September 18, 1986, the weekly, hour-long series was initially set in Chicago in 1963. Dennis Farina, a former cop in real life, starred as Lt. Mike Torello, head of the windy city's Major Crime Unit (MCU), who carried on a blood feud with young, ambitious gangster Ray Luca (Anthony John Denison). Assisting Torello in his efforts was prosecuting attorney David Abrams (Stephen Lang), a mobster's son who had "seen the light" and switched sides. Others on Torello's team included Sgt. Danny Krychek (Bill Smitrovich), and detectives Nate Grossman (Steve Ryan), Joey Indelli (Bill Campbell), and Walter Clemmons (Paul Butler), while Luca was backed up by his faithful but dangerously stupid henchman Paulie Taglia (played by John Santucci, who, in a perverse spin of the Dennis Farina situation, had been a genuine criminal before turning to acting).
Halfway through season one, Luca and Paulie moved to Las Vegas, only to be closely followed by Torello and his men, who had become federal agents. The season ended with literal bang, as Luca and Paulie took refuge in a small house in the Nevada desert that turned out to be smack-dab in the middle of a nuclear testing site. Miraculously, the two gangsters managed to survive an atomic explosion with nary a scratch, and spent the series' second and final season playing a game of hide and seek with the Torello forces. Ultimately, the "good guys" bearded their prey in Mexico. In the course of events, Torello's marriage to his wife, Julie (Darlanne Fluegel, broke up, whereupon he entered into a relationship with Inga Thorson (Patricia Charbonneau). Also, both the cops and the robbers had brief encounters with the mob's "big boys," portrayed by such diverse actors as Joseph Wiseman and Andrew Dice Clay. Although the ratings for Crime Story were mediocre, NBC had faith in the series and kept it alive for two years. Like many other Michael Mann productions, the series was rich with authentic period detail, and came equipped with wall-to-wall vintage music, including the theme tune "Runaway", re-recorded (and recreated) by its original artist, Del Shannon. But for all of NBC's promotional skills and Michael Mann's production expertise, the series never caught on (more's the pity), and last aired on May 10, 1988.