Though stated in the credits that this series is based upon the classic TV show from the late 50s, The Untouchables starring Robert Stack, and the book of the same name by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley, this version is actually much more in line with the Kevin Costner movie, complete with a boyish Eliot Ness. This Boy Scout Ness, who clearly is learning on the job, wouldn't have worked were it not for another character , also introduced from the movie, the former policeman Malone, who gives the 'good guys' some bite!!! Otherwise Jimmy Stewart as Eliot Ness just would not have cut it! Malone is the street-wise 'bad' cop from the school of hard knocks which contrasts with Eliot's 'good' cop just out of college with no practical experience. Not that Malone is a bent cop on the take, he just knows how to get around certain obstructions to justice to get things done and he schools the young Ness on the ways of the big bad town of Chicago. This is quite different from the original show wherein Ness was the undisputed wise leader who was tough and knew his way around thugs and criminals of all stripes. Sometimes it is infuriating to see Malone, a character not in the first show, telling a wimpish Eliot what to do. One just wants to tell Eliot to be stronger.
Also, aside from Malone, there are 3 other Untouchables, plus their driver, Basile, who served time in prison, and is killed in an early episode of the 93 show (one of the few incidents actually taken from the pilot of the classic TV show and the Ness book) and another, the full blooded Indian Steelman is killed at the end of the first season. None of this new group of Untouchables has retained the names of our favorite stars from the early cast like Rico Rossi, Lee Hobson, William Youngfellow (the full blooded Indian) and Jack Rossman, the wiretap expert and these characters are sorely missed by those fans of the original series.
The character of Al Capone, is shown much more in this new series as the diametrical opposite of Ness and they play well off each other as the fight between the juxtaposition of good and evil reaches a show down. Capone is seen much more in this 93 version than in the original series where he was only in the pilot and one other two-part episode depicting his transfer by train to Alcatraz. Another different aspect of this new series is that Capone and Ness are not as one dimensional as they were portrayed back in the late 50s. There's a humanness to these iconic characters depicted in a family setting. Capone and Ness are both shown as loving fathers with their wives and children. The contrast between how Capone indulges his boy Sonny in every thing money can buy with Ness's expressions of love for his daughter as an underpaid government worker who hand-makes her playhouse is poignant. Capone actually did have a boy, called Sonny, Ness did not have a daughter in the old TV series nor in real life, though in the 87 movie he did.
Don't get me wrong, it's not all love and family, that's hardly the case. There is a lot of roaring 20s/depression/ prohibition era excitement, murder, gangster killing gangsters, busting up breweries, distilleries, Frank Nitti and the Outfit, etc., but the violence is not quite as gratuitous as in the original series. Al Capone is still the ultimate gangster's gangster, but he's not pure evil. That role is reserved for Bugs Moran who has no redeeming qualities what-so-ever; you never see him humanized with any kind of a family life. Just as there is the juxtaposition between The Untouchables and the mob, and the battle between Capone and Ness there is another story of the gangs against each other with a major war between Capone and Moran who is dehumanized in this series. He's the ultimate evil, crazed irredeemable thug.
So to the fans of the classic Untouchables 59, this show is taken more from the 87 movie, but it is a decent and very entertaining show. Other incidents in various episodes may be vaguely familiar to fans of the original series, like a story on the shooting of reporter Jake Lingle and wiretaping the Outfit's business phone, though the characters and the stories themselves are much differnt. There's definitely room for both series in one's collection.