Zoe Busiek (Wild Card)

Created by Lynn Latham and Bernard Lechowick

“Nobody’s ever accused me of being an adult before.”
— Zoe reveals she’s no SuperMom
The American TV channel Lifetime isn’t exactly known for its hard-boiled fare, but they did make it a watered-down go back in 2003, when they premiered Wild Card, folding some occasionally gritty and often surprising elements into the standard mix.

Joely Fisher played ZOE BUSIEK, a former wild child and Vegas blackjack dealer who ends up in Chicago after her sister’s death in a car crash that leaves her with three kids, Taylor, Cliff, and Hannah, to raise.

Turns out the insurance company tried to dick around with the settlement, and Zoe had to pursue the claim on her own. Which eventually led her to a gig as an insurance fraud investigator for a downtown detective agency. Of course.

Although the previews suggested it was more a family drama show than crime fiction, there was actual detective work done here. Zoe’s may not have been exactly cut out for motherhood, but as a fledgling investigator, she was pretty competent, and pretty likable.

Sure, it was cheese, but it was enjoyable cheese. Admittedly, it was a little “girly” (after all, what did I expect?), but Fisher was solid, and the family stuff was well-handled, and even believable. Mostly Zoe seemed to butt heads with the oldest child, Taylor, a headstrong teenager chaffing under her aunt’s rule. It got a little too cute at times, and my heart didn’t need all that much warming, but the show had good intentions.

And the office stuff played out well too, offering the closest I’d seen to a P.I. procedural. The suitably handsome Dan was the boss, and Zoe was often partnered with Sophia (played by Rae Dawn Chong). There were the usual inter-office politics, rivalries, friendships, problems with bosses, co-workers, etc., etc. In other words — an actual sense of people working for a living.

I mean, real people, with real problems, working real cases? Get outta here!

Okay, it’s television-real, not real-real, but it made a nice break from the designer car chases, perpetual Sports Illustrated bimbo close-ups and look-at-me! look-at-me! predictable procedural pretensions of most crime TV of the time. Dun-dun.

It may have been fluff, but because it knew what it was, and presented itself on those low-key terms, it’s actually rather enjoyable, and the inter-office stuff reminded me, rather favourably at times, of the old Mary Tyler Moore Show.



It was interesting how Las Vegas suddenly seemed to be really hot as a TV show location, even just in passing, as it is in this show. CBS kicked it off with CSI, Fox continued it with the quirky comedy/drama, Lucky, and other networks were soon jumping on the bandwagon. Besides Wild Card,  there was UPN’s Vegas Dick and NBC’s Las Vegas, both set to debut in the fall of 2003, and both P.I.-related. Then again, Vegas? Chicago? It was all filmed in Canada.

HMMMM… (Part Deux)

  • A single mom working as a fledgling private investigator? Filmed in Canada? Shades of Mom P.I.!


    (aka “Zoe Busiek: Wild Card”)
    (2003-05, Lifetime)
    60-minute episodes
    Filmed in Toronto
    Created by Lynn Latham and Bernard Lechowick
    Starring Joely Fisher as ZOE BUSIEK
    Also starring Rae Dawn Chong as Sophie Mason
    Chris Potter as Dan Lennox
    Bronson Picket as Marcos Morales
    and Vikki Krinsky as Taylor

    • Season One
    • “Pilot” (August 2, 2003)
    • “The Learning Cyrve” (August 9, 2003)
    • “Con Artistry” (August 16, 2003)
    • “Hell Week” (August 23, 2003)
    • “Dearly Beloved” (September 6, 2003)
    • “Dead Again” (September 13, 2003)
    • ‘The Cheese Stands Alone (September 27, 2003)
    • “No Bull” (October 4, 2003)
    • “Mimi’s Assets” (October 18, 2003)
    • “Spooked” (October 25, 2003)
    • “Sand Trap” (November 8, 2003)
    • “Black Sheep” (November 15, 2003)
    • “Bullet Proof” (December 6, 2003)
    • “Backstabbed” (December 13, 2003)
    • “Auntie Venom” (January 3, 2004)
    • “Block Party” (January 10, 2004)
    • “Candy Land” (January 17, 2004)
    • Season Two
    • “A Felony for Melanie” (July 11, 2004)
    • “Dr. Sidney Loses a Kidney” (July 18, 2004)
    • “Sniper Shot, Intern Hot” (July 25, 2004)
    • “Roses are Red, Violets are Busiek” (August 1, 2004)
    • “Bound and Gagged, Your Husband Was Snagged” (August 8, 2004)
    • “Wham Bam, Thank You Dan” (August 15, 2004)
    • “Slam Dunk Funk” (August 22, 2004)
    • “Die, Die, Who Am I?” (September 26, 2004)
    • “Premonition Mission” (October 3, 2004)
    • “Bada Bing, Bada Busiek” (October 10, 2004)
    • “Tick Tock, Writer’s Block” (October 17, 2004)
    • “Blind in a Bind” (October 24, 2004)
    • “Russian Missus Gets No Kisses” (June 11, 2005)
    • “See Ya Later, Investigator” (June 18, 2005)
    • “A Whisper From Zoe’s Sister” (June 25, 2005)
    • “Multiple Personality Fatality” (July 2, 2005)
    • “My Boyfriend is an Axe Murderer” (July 9, 2005)
    • “Zoe’s Phony Matrimony” (July 16, 2005)



  • September 9, 2023
    The Bottom Line: This cheesy but enjoyable Lifetime show added a little grit to the usual mix, as former Vegas card dealer Zoe moves to Chicago, adopts her late sister’s three kids and becomes a P.I. As one does.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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