Once A Thief Episode Guide

[promo pic from Once A Thief]

ONCE A THIEF premiered September 15, 1997 on CTV. It aired for nine weeks on Monday nights at 10 pm ET/PT before being put on hiatus. It returned January 17, 1998 - May 2, 1997 on Saturday nights. Though cancelled after 22 episodes, it reruns on Showcase in Canada. In the U.S., certain episodes were combined into "movies" and aired on The Movie Channel (TMC).

NOTE: The episodes are listed in the order they aired. Numbers in [square brackets] are the production order.

0.1 - "Once A Thief" (2 hr. pilot)

Airdate: September 29, 1996. Lovers Mac Ramsey and Li Ann Tsei try to escape the Hong Kong mafia they grew up in. It goes wrong; Mac is arrested and Li Ann flees to Vancouver. They are reunited a year later, when Mac is recruited to the same shadowy crime-fighting organization that Li Ann now works for. But Li Ann, thinking Mac dead, is engaged to her partner, Victor Mansfield. The three of them are forced to work together. (Released as Violent Tradition overseas.)

0.1a - "Once A Thief" (Director's Cut)

Released in North America: July 17, 1997. The version of the pilot released on commercial videotape in the U.S., slightly different from the version aired on TV.

0.1b - "Once A Thief" (Director's Cut) on DVD  

The DVD version of the pilot, advertised as having "special features."

1.1 - "The Big Bang Theory"

Airdate: September 15, 1997. Members of an elite law enforcement agency fight crime in North America. With Ivan Sergei, Sandrine Holt and Nicholas Lea. This episode: Gangsters steal information which could lead to the killing of some Chinese political dissidents. [2]

1.2 - "Rave On"

Airdate: September 22, 1997. An investigation into the death of several teens uncovers a dangerous youth rave culture. [7]

1.3 - "Trial Marriage"

Airdate: September 29, 1997. Mac follows husband and wife terrorists while Li Ann and Vic investigate the death of several scientists who attended the same convention. [4]

1.4 - "Art of Death"

Airdate: October 6, 1997. A cop who arrested Mac and Li Ann works with the agency to stop a terrorist cult. [5]

(This episode guest stars George Takei, "Mr. Sulu" from the original Star Trek series.)

1.5 - "Mac Daddy"

Airdate: October 13, 1997. Mac is suspicious when his father shows up; Li Ann disappears while investigating a spa that's linked to an arms dealer. [6]

1.6 - "Wang Dang Doodle"

Airdate: October 20, 1997. The team investigates a group of psychotics - who were once normal. [3]

1.7 - "It Happened One Night"

Airdate: October 27, 1997. An Arabian prince is kidnapped while under the team's protection. [10]

1.8 - "Drive, She Said"

Airdate: November 10, 1997 (postponed due to Halloween special). Victor and Mac are sent to a safe house after several male agents are assassinated. [8]

(This episode features Nigel Bennett and John Kapelos, "Lacroix" and "Schanke" from Forever Knight.)

1.9 - "Jaded Love"

Airdate: November 17, 1997 (last episode before hiatus). Victor's old flame asks him for help after she's threatened by a client. [9]

1.10 - "Wedding Bell Blues"

Airdate: January 17, 1998 (first episode after hiatus). Mac investigates, then falls in love with, a woman who's suspected of organizing the sale of a hand-held nuclear grenade. [12]

(This is the episode shown to at least one of the ONCE A THIEF focus groups.)

1.11 - "That Old Gang of Mine"

Airdate: January 24, 1998. Mac and Li Ann investigate a teen-age mob boss and encounter their "Godfather.'' [11]

1.12 - "Last Temptation of Vic" (formerly "Film Noir")

Airdate: January 31, 1998. Victor gets mixed up with a gang of wiseguys. [14]

Taken from the Times Colonist:
          TORONTO - John Woo's Once A Thief, the martial arts action series filmed in Toronto by Alliance Communications, is returning to the air on CTV on Saturday nights after a two month hiatus. And to mark the occasion, next week's episode was filmed in a style that pays tribute to some of the great mobfilm genres.
          For the Jan. 31 episode, entitled "The Last Temptation of Vic," cinematographer Bill Wong recreated Gordon Willis' unique look in
The Godfather. There are also stylistic nods to Martin Scorsese and a balletic gunfight in the best Hong Kong tradition. The soundtrack ranges from Mozart to Prodigy.

1.13 - "Mama's Boys" (formerly "Boys Club")

Airdate: February 7, 1998. Mac is adopted by jewel thieves who are being manipulated by a murderous mastermind. [15]

1.14 - "Li Ann's Choice" (formerly "Midnight Run")

Airdate: February 14, 1998. Jackie, Mac and Victor set out to shut down a feuding family of weapons dealers. [17]

1.15 - "True Blue"

Airdate: February 21, 1998. Victor's haunted by criminal ex-cop buddies who think he's ratting them out. [18]

1.16 - "Kangaroo Court" (formerly "Intern Show")

Airdate: February 28, 1998. The gang attempts to save Jackie from an underground justice system. [19]

1.17 - "Little Sister"

Airdate: March 7, 1998. Victor is summoned to rescue his little sister from a gang of alt-culture criminals. [1]

1.18 - "The Director Files" (formerly "X-Files")

Airdate: March 14, 1998. The Director turns against the agency thanks to a close encounter with an unknown force. [20]

(An X-Files parody, complete with Mulder and Scully-like characters. The Director sees a bright light in the woods, etc. Reportedly, the cast and crew all had a lot of fun with this one, especially Nick!)

1.19 - "Shaken Not Stirred" (formerly "Homage to the Saint")

Airdate: March 21, 1998. The agency's top spy joins the team to help stop a bomber who may have links to an Irish terrorist group. [16]

1.20 - "Politics of Love" (formerly "Double Trouble")

Airdate: March 28, 1998. Mac's life is threatened when the team protects a love-stricken politician from environmentalists. [13]

1.21 - "Family Reunion" (formerly "Michael1")

Airdate: April 25, 1998 The Tang Godfather arrives in town and Li Ann has premonitions that her brother Michael is actually alive. [21]

1.22 - "Endgame" (formerly "Michael2," "Day of the Jackass" )

Airdate: May 2, 1998 After the Tang Godfather is assassinated, the team almost separates over Michael's real agenda. [22]

(The montage at the end of this episode was to "Time," by Tom Waits).

The TMC Movies:

John Woo's Once A Thief: The Director's Cut

First aired July 18, 1998. Two adopted children are trained to work as thieves in Mr. Tang's Hong Kong Mafia. Eventually they want to leave the life of crime and inadvertently get separated. They end up reunited a year later, and both are members of an international crime fighting unit.

(Pretty much the same as the director's cut released on commercial video.)

John Woo's Once A Thief: Family Business

First aired July 18, 1998. "Take da gun, leave the fortune cookies." In this mob soap opera, the godfather of the Janczyk crime family is replaced by the prep-schooled, valley girl Jackie Janczyk. She starts a gang war leaving two undercover crime fighters in a compromised position. Meanwhile, the fiance of one of the crime fighters is asked to become a "made man" in the Italian Mafia after rescuing a mobster's niece.

(FAMILY BUSINESS is "That Old Gang of Mine" and "The Last Temptation of Vic," edited together into a "movie," with a little extra material added to link them together.)

John Woo's Once A Thief: Brother Against Brother

First aired August 22, 1998. A hitman's on a killing spree so Victor goes undercover to nab him. Meanwhile, Mac and LiAnn investigate a power play in their old criminal ranks.

(BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER is the two-part series finale, "Family Reunion" and "Endgame" - only with a different ending!)

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