The homie, Rembert Browne, wrote about Fox’s Five Greatest Moments and I was disappointed. His writing, as always, is superb and fresh, mimicking perfectly his voice and personality, his unabashed him. Instead, I was disappointed that one of my favorite shows from the mid-90’s, New York Undercover, did not crack his top five. While writing a disparaging, heckling email, I paused and remembered that he was raised in Atlanta. No slander to Atlanta, but New York Undercover resonated with New Yorkers. It was distinctly New York from the gritty scenes throughout the city to the incorporation of present social issues. And the soundtrack! The show’s soundtrack highlighted the city’s sounds and rhythms, captured precisely with the loving lyrics of R&B and the tough raps of the then emerging Hip Hop. More importantly, it resonated with middle school me. At the time, I was not in love or particularly tough, but I was a New Yorker and the show’s story lines of crime, family, and love/friendship were part of my everyday life in the Bronx.
Here are some of my fond memories of the acclaimed (by me) run from 1994-1997 [in my head the last season does not count because they changed the cast…they killed one of the main characters, Torres, and the show did not feel the same after that]
- First, there were two men of color as the principal characters in a crime drama. That might have been a first! Someone wikipedia that for me. Please and thank you.
- JC Williams’ (Malik Yoba) and Eddie Torres’ (Michael DeLorenzo) relationship was the epitome of true brotherhood, holding each other accountable and not afraid to do so even in feelings were hurt in the process. Their relationship was complicated, but its constant turns propelled the show forward.
MalikJC Williams, a single father, called his son, “G”
- New York Undercover was a part of the Thursday line-up that included, Living Single and Martin. While
WhiteAmerica was busy looking at NBC and their “Must See Tv” lineup, headlined by Friends and Seinfeld, I was glued to Fox.
- Nina Moreno (Lauren Velez) was the sexy and brave addition to the force. She starred at a time when Puerto Rican women were washing the competition by 25 in the first quarter (read: there was no competition for Puerto Ricans; they were the most desirable…hands down!) In the last few years, Dominicans have overtaken Puerto Ricans, but this is a throwback shout out to the time when Butter Pecans ruled the land!
- The nightclub, Natalie’s, had the biggest hip hop, r&b stars. I remember Biggie, Aaliyah, Boyz II Men, Tevin Campbell, and others gracing that small cafe. If you were a star in the mid-90s and didn’t guest star on New York Undercover, then you really weren’t a star. Truth hurts. Additionally, just because you guest starred on the show does not mean you guaranteed staying star power either: *looks at Monifah, Xscape, and Brownstone*
- Ice-T was a prick for killing
Malik’sJC Williams’ pregnant fiancee
- Then Noami Campbell seduced
MalikJC Williams as revenge for Ice-T’s character. Well played, Ice-T. Well played! Lucky MalikJC Williams
- I think Malik Yoba is still one of the best names in the world. You have to say his full name though for the mesmerizing effect to occur though.
- Torres’ dad battled drug addiction and eventually died from HIV. This storyline
begancontinued the dialogue about the prevalence of HIV in Black and Brown communities, which at the time thought they were invincible because HIV was considered a “gay” disease. Don’t get me started on the rampant homophobia in the Black and Brown community. That’s part of the reason why the inclusion of this story was so memorable and touching!
What were your memories of New York Undercover? Please share them in the comment section.