Show Type: Police
Telecast: March 25,
August 25, 1988
March 1982 - April 1982,
Thursday 9:00-10:00 on CBS
October 1982 - September
1983, Monday 10:00-11:00 on CBS
March 1984 - December
1987, Monday 10:00-11:00 on CBS
January 1988 - April 1988,
Tuesday 10:00-11:00 on CBS
April 1988 - June 1988, Monday 10:00-11:00 on CBS
June 1988 - August 1988,
Thursday 10:00-11:00 on CBS
Detective Mary Beth
Chris Cagney (1982).....
Chris Cagney (1982-1988).....
Bert Samuels..... Al Waxman
Paul La Guardia (1982-1985).....
Deputy Inspector Marquette
Sergeant Ronald Coleman.....
Lacey..... John Karlen
Lacey, Jr. .....
Tony La Torre
Lacey..... Troy Slaten
Cagney..... Dick O'Neill
Sergeant Dory McKenna
Jonah Newman (1985-1986).....
Dana & Paige Bardolph
Manny Esposito (1986-1988).....
Al Corassa (1986-1988).....
Tom Basil (1986-1988).....
Verna Dee Jordan
"We had a shot," said producer
Barney Rosenzweig, "at television history." Cagney & Lacey was certainly
unusual for commercial TV, asserting that two women could be best buddies in the
Starsky-and-Hutch, Paul Newman-Robert Redford tradition and do a "man's job"
just as well as any man could. With male leads it would have been a rather
ordinary TV police series. Mary
Beth Lacey was the married one, trying to be a wife and mother, as well as a New
York City police officer. Chris Cagney was single, ambitious
and full of the joys of living. Though beautiful, she was often disappointed in
Despite their different lifestyles, Mary Beth and Chris were partners and fast
friends, determined to break the stereotypes often ascribed to women in jobs not
traditionally associated with them. They fought criminals, the chauvinism of
their male fellow officers, the ignorance of their friends regarding their
unusual careers, and sometimes each other 0 with shouting sessions in the
ladies' room. Working primarily as undercover cops, they infiltrated criminal organizations and
sometimes served as decoys to capture street criminals.
Not all of the cases worked out,
either. Like Hill Street Blues and other "reality" shows, Cagney &
Lacey reflected the real world of the big-city cop.
The off-screen troubles of this
series were almost as dramatic as the on-screen problems of its stars. Conceived
by Rosenzweig with the help of feminists Barbara Corday and Barbara Avedon in
1974, it was turned down as a series by all three major networks, finally airing
as a made-for-TV movie on CBS in October 1981 with Loretta Swit as Cagney. The
movie drew a tremendous audience, and a limited-run series was commissioned for
the following spring. Loretta Swit was unavailable, so Meg Foster was cast as
Cagney. This time the ratings were poor, and CBS thought it knew why. "They were
too harshly women's lib," said an unnamed CBS executive in TV Guide, "too
tough, too hard, and not feminine." "The American public doesn't respond to the
bra burners, the fighters, the women who insist on calling manhole covers
peoplehole covers," he continued. "We perceived them as dykes."
That last remark set off a storm
of protest, but the role of Cagney was once again recast, this time with
beautiful Sharon Gless, who was to provide a softer, more feminine counterpart
for Lacey. Gay groups protested that - "She's from the Copacabana school
of acting," complained the Gay Media Task Force, "very kittenish and
feminine..." - but the decision stuck.
Despite the changes, audiences
were disappointingly small in 1982-1983, and the series was cancelled at the end
of the season amid a flurry of publicity about the cop show that had tried to be
"different." Loyal viewers thereupon inundated CBS with letters, and summer
reruns began to pick up new viewers who were curious about the fuss. In
September, the show won an Emmy. Much to everyone's surprise, CBS relented and
the series surfaced once again in the spring of 1984 - accompanied by the TV
Guide headline "Welcome Back, Cagney & Lacey," and advertising that
proclaimed "You Want Them! You've Got Them!"
The series flourished after
being brought back and the personal lives of Cagney & Lacey became more
prominent in the story lines. Mary Beth had another child, a daughter named
Alice. Chris's social life, first her relationship with drug-addicted fellow cop
Dory McKenna and later with attorney David Keeler, was featured. At one point,
she was even the victim of date rape. Her personal problems, including the fear
of never marrying and having a family and a bout with alcoholism, were also
depicted. Chris's father, Charlie (Dick O'Neill), also turned up from time to
time until he passed away in the spring of 1987. that year she was promoted to