Home Television Drama Tenspeed & Brown Shoe

Tenspeed & Brown Shoe

1 9 8 0 (USA)
1 x 96 minute episode
10 x 60 minute episodes

E L ‘Tenspeed’ Turner (Ben Vereen) – was a smooth-talking con man who needed a job so he wouldn’t get thrown in jail again (he was out on parole).

Lionel ‘Brown Shoe’ (an old term for bankers and stockbrokers) Whitney (Jeff Goldblum) was a naive, daydreaming stockbroker with a code of ethics who wanted to be just like his heroes in 1940s pulp fiction private eye novels and old Bogart movies.

In that way, Brown Shoe represented every mystery fan who ever secretly dreamed of being Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade.

Whitney opened the tiny Lionel Whitney Detective Agency – located two blocks off Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles – in partnership with Turner (a truly odd couple), and the duo wound up with more than their share of exciting cases.

Tenspeed was a master of disguise with a chameleon-like skill to instantly transform himself into a priest, a psychiatrist, a chauffeur, or whatever role was necessary to elude his adversaries.

The unlikely series only lasted for 11 episodes. The show was launched with a tremendous promotional blitz in early 1980 and attracted a large audience for its first couple of episodes. It then declined rapidly and was soon cancelled.

The producer of this series was Stephen J. Cannell, whose name was used as “the author” of all the blood-and-guts detective novels Lionel was forever reading to hone his detective skills.

E.L. ‘Tenspeed’ Turner 
Ben Vereen 
Lionel ‘Brown Shoe’ Whitney

Jeff Goldblum