Cagney & Lacey: First Time Viewer

Cagney & Lacey is another of "those" shows that I never saw growing up (although I grew up in a home without a permanent TV, that's not a good enough excuse--I am familiar with a surprising number of Brady Bunch episodes).

Like with Columbo, I've been pleasantly surprised. It is naturally dated, not in the painful way of "vintage" shows--such as Simon & Simon--but in a charming nostalgic way--such as  Barney Miller and early Law & Order.

In fact, watching Cagney & Lacey is rather like watching a Barney Miller/early Law & Order reunion. I keep saying, "Wow, there's another early cop-show guest star!"

It resembles both shows in the quick dialog and (usually) not too heavy-handed balance of "tough" subjects and character development. There are, naturally, the "serious" episodes that touch on controversial issues (is porn a victimless crime? should cops go out on strike?). I didn't appreciate until Cagney & Lacey how far Law & Order had been anticipated re: its "pulled from the headlines" approach.

The marriage of Mary Beth Lacey and Harvey Lacey also anticipates Linda and Danny of Blue Bloods

Last but not least, the non-spick & span police station is anticipated by dozens of cop shows in the twentieth century. I have a soft spot for dirty, linoleum police stations. Truth: I've never fully accepted the sleek, clean settings of shows like Law & Order: Criminal Intent. I totally understand why Tom Paris of ST: Voyager started building space shuttles with blinking buzzers and lights--it just seems more authentic.

Cagney & Lacey is helped by decent acting. I had no idea that Tyne Daly (whom I'd only seen in a Columbo episode prior to watching Cagney & Lacey) was that good. Cagney & Lacey actors are the kind that definitely fit the profile of "working actors." Harvey Atkin, for instance, seems to have been everywhere, performing in everything. These are actors who will do voice work, live action, movies, films. It's a job. Of course, it's a job.

1 comment:

FreeLiveFree said...

Fun fact: Bestselling mystery writer Robert Crais wrote for Cagney & Lacey.

You mention that some shows age better and that it is true. The Rockford Files looks better than Simon and Simon, for example. I don't know why that is except that a show tries to hard to look hip it's going to be dated really quick.

There's also the weird thing where certain areas age better than others. I've been watching The Bob Newhart Show. Bob's clothing is pretty standard men's attire that hasn't really changed. His wife's are supposedly fashionable attire looks really weird. Of course, it was the 70s.