The Untouchables - Season 2, Vol. 1
Perhaps inevitably, the more popular the ABC crime drama The Untouchables became, the louder the series' detractors complained. Reaching its ratings peak as America's eighth-most-watched program during its second season, the series, which elaborated in the most violent fashion imaginable on the career of treasury agent Elliot Ness (Robert Stack) as he and his team of "Untouchables" challenged the criminal element of Depression-era Chicago, was besieged by a flock of clean-up-TV advocates, church and school groups, and especially the Italian Anti-Defamation League, which condemned the series for its preponderance of Italian villains. Executive producer Desi Arnaz argued that many of the real-life gangsters were indeed Italian, whereupon their critics counter-argued that the scriptwriters tended to use Italian-sounding names even for the series' fictional bad guys. Everyone from the Longshoreman's Union (which threatened not to deliver the sponsors' product) to singer Frank Sinatra converged upon Arnaz, and there were even rumors that The Mob had put out a contract on the beleagured producer (reportedly, the higher-ups figured that killing Desi wouldn't be worth the trouble). Finally, the producers agreed that, beginning with the series' third season, none of the fictional gangsters would be Italian, and that the genuine Italian miscreants would be counterbalanced with honest, upright and incorruptible Italian-American supporting characters--notably Nick Georgiade in the recurring role of "Untouchable" Enrico Rossi. Highlights of Season Two include Elizabeth Montgomery's bravura, Emmy-nominated portrayal of a duplicitous gun moll in the opening episode, "The Rusty Heller Story"; "Jack 'Legs' Diamond," with future Law&Order star Steven Hill in the title role and Robert Carricart as Lucky Luciano; "Augie 'The Banker Ciamino" with Keenan Wynn, who ironically had played straight-arrow "Untouchable" Joe Fuselli in the series' two-hour pilot; and "Mr. Moon," which garnered a great deal of critical attention due the starring performance by 23-year-old Victor Buono. And as had happened with the first season "The Unhired Assassin," the second season of The Untouchables is distinguished by another elaborate two-part episode, "The Big Train," which brings Neville Brand back as Ness' number one nemesis Al Capone--and which got the producers into trouble (again!) by suggesting that the incarcerated Capone had been given preferential treatment in the Atlanta Pentitentiary. Also in the tradition of "The Unhired Assassin," "The Big Train" was later released theatrically as Alcatraz Express.