New York Undercover

New York Undercover

Season 1–3 intertitle
Also known as ''Uptown Undercover''
Genre Crime drama
Created by Kevin Arkadie
Dick Wolf
Starring Malik Yoba
(entire run)
Michael DeLorenzo
(seasons 1–3)
Patti D'Arbanville-Quinn
(seasons 1–3)
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
Opening theme New York Undercover (seasons 1-4)
Ending theme New York Undercover (Rock Instrumental theme) (season 4)
Composer(s) James Mtume
Country of origin United States
Original 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 network Fox
Original release September 8, 1994 (1994-09-08) – June 25, 1998 (1998-06-25)
Related shows Law & Order (franchise)
Homicide: Life on the Street

New York Undercover is 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 Fourth Precinct who were assigned to investigate various crimes and gang-related cases. The cast also included Patti D'Arbanville-Quinn as their superior, 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 was created and produced by Dick Wolf, and its storyline takes place in the same fictional universe as Wolf's NBC series Law & Order, its spin-offs, The Chicago Series, and Homicide: Life on the Street.

New York Undercover (whose working title during development was Uptown Undercover, named after the record label, Uptown Records, whose founder and CEO, Andre Harrell, was also the executive producer of the series)[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 addition to the main storylines in each episode, subplots explored the private lives of the show's 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 organized-crime boss.

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 are married. However, in that same episode, Torres and McNamara are both killed by a gang of bank robbers. Many viewers believe that these events—particularly the death of Torres and the departure of DeLorenzo—caused New York Undercover to "jump the shark," since the friendship of Williams and Torres was the 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.

The principal cast members from season 2 of New York Undercover (clockwise, from top left): Patti D'Arbanville-Quinn as Virginia Cooper, Lauren Velez as Nina Moreno, Michael DeLorenzo as Eddie Torres, and Malik Yoba as J.C. Williams.

Cast Overview

Character Actor Seasons
1 2 3 4
Detective J.C. Williams Malik Yoba Main
Detective Eddie Torres Michael DeLorenzo Main
Lieutenant Virginia Cooper Patti D'Arbanville-Quinn Main
Detective Nina Moreno-Torres Lauren Vélez Main
Detective Tommy McNamara Jonathan LaPaglia Main
Detective Nell Delaney Marisa Ryan Main
Detective Alec Stone Josh Hopkins Main
Lieutenant Malcolm Barker Tommy Ford Main

Main characters

Recurring characters


Law enforcement personnel



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 Velez appeared in the first-season episode "Olde Tyme Religion" as a believer in Santería. 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. Michelle Hurd played 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 Teena Marie, 112, Aaliyah, Erykah Badu, George Benson, Mary J. Blige, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Boyz II Men, Brandy, Brownstone, Tevin Campbell, Chuck D, George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars, Celia Cruz, Johnny Gill, Groove Theory, Montell Jordan, Usher Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Amel Larrieux, Levert, Monifah, Aaron Neville, New Edition, The Notorious B.I.G., The O'Jays, Tito Puente, The Temptations, Xscape, and many others. The two exceptions were a first-season episode, wherein The Notorious B.I.G. performs at a rap concert, and the two-episode third-season premiere, wherein Kirk Franklin and the Family portray a church choir.

In the first-season episode "The Eyewitness Blues," actress 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 her own singing.

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.


The series aired on the TV One cable network from 2007 to 2011. In 2008, the series began airing on Sleuth, but when it was changed to Cloo, New York Undercover was dropped. The series aired on Si TV as well, but when it was changed to Nuvo TV, New York Undercover was dropped. Centric began to air the series in early 2012, mainly in early morning slots. Since January 1, 2008, New York Undercover has aired on RTL's digital RTL Crime channel.

In April 2010, Malik Yoba stated on an episode of The Wendy Williams Show that he has tentative plans to revive the series, updating the storyline to the present day. No other details of further development have been announced since.


  1. Owen, Rob (1997). Gen X TV: The Brady Bunch to Melrose Place. Syracuse University Press. p. 90. ISBN 0-8156-0443-2.
  2. "Hip-Hop Cops", TV Guide, Oct. 15, 1994, at p. 29.
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