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Tenspeed and Brown Shoe is an Americanmarker detective/comedy series originally broadcast by the ABC network between January through June 1980. The series was created and executive produced by Stephen J. Cannell.


The one-hour program revolved around two detectives who had their own detective agency in Los Angelesmarker. E.L ("Early Leroy") "Tenspeed" Turner (Ben Vereen) was a hustler who worked as a detective to satisfy his parole requirements. His partner Lionel "Brownshoe" Whitney (Jeff Goldblum) was an archetypal accountant, complete with button-down collars and a nagging fiancee (at least for the pilot episode), who had always wanted to be a 1940s-style Bogart P.I. He was sharper than he seemed, although a little naïve and more reasonable than his career path demanded, and had picked up karate to Black Belt standard. The show had some broad similarities to the later television series Simon & Simon and Moonlighting, in that it was a lightly dramatic program with many comedic moments about two dissimilar detectives who attempt to solve cases together.

Produced by Stephen J. Cannell in association with Paramount Television (one of only two such collaborations), Tenspeed and Brown Shoe was heavily promoted by ABC at the time it premiered in late January 1980. The series attracted a substantial audience for its first few episodes (indeed, the series was the 29th most-watched program of the 1979–80 U.S. television season, according to Nielsen ratings), but viewership dropped off substantially after that and the series was not renewed for the 1980–81 season.



Episode # Episode Title Original Airdate
1 "Tenspeed and Brownshoe (Part 1)" January 27, 1980
2 "Tenspeed and Brownshoe (Part 2)" January 27, 1980
3 "Robin Tucker's Roseland Roof and Ballroom Murders" February 3, 1980
4 "Savage Says: There's No Free Lunch" February 10, 1980
5 "Savage Says: What are Friends For?" February 17, 1980
6 "The Sixteen Byte Data Chip and the Brown-eyed Fox" February 24, 1980
7 "It's Easier to Pass an Elephant Through the Eye of a Needle Than a Bad Check in Bel Air" March 3, 1980
8 "The Millionaire's Life" March 16, 1980
9 "Savage Says: The Most Dangerous Bird is the Jailbird" March 23, 1980
10 "Loose Larry's List of Losers" Unknown
11 "This One's Gonna Kill Ya" June 6, 1980
12 "The Untitled Episode" June 13, 1980
13 "The Treasure of Sierra Madre Street" June 20, 1980
14 "Diamonds aren't Forever" June 27, 1980


  • Lionel regularly read pulp detective novels of the lurid, garish 1940s type, and his reading of their prose was often used as a comedy voice over by Goldblum. The author photograph was Cannell himself, in a gently self-mocking skit, and the author appeared in person at a police station, again in a cameo appearance by Cannell.

  • Ben Vereen would later reprise his role as Tenspeed Turner on "J.J. Starbuck" in 1988, another television series created by Cannell.

Award nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1981 Edgar Award Nominated Best Television Episode Stephen J. Cannell (For episode "Tenspeed and Brown Shoe")


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