In “Together Again,” the friends are trying to solve a case and save an innocent drunk’s life. Cagney, still prickly after all these years, chases a homeless man who has stolen her take-away across the city. She’s a bit on edge because her new married life isn’t really working out. And with its characteristic social awareness, Harvey (John Karlen), Lacey’s sick husband, notes that they are one more health crisis away from bankruptcy.
“The View Through the Glass Ceiling” contrasts Lacey’s principled approach to life with Cagney’s self-centered ambition. Dealing with a case about a possible dirty cop brings out the worst in Cagney. “True Convictions” puts Cagney into another man’s arms, this time the married father of a murdered young woman. Her new attachment gives her yet another opportunity to demonstrate her lack of principles, as she places her affair above her legal responsibilities.
If you’re happy to walk down memory’s lane with the ever-empathetic Tyne Daly (Lacey) and the nearly-butch Sharon Gless (Cagney), you’ll find these four 90-minute films a treat. But it is in the accompanying four interviews that the precious treasure of this set resides. First is Barney Rosenzweig, the driving force behind the series, explaining that he was motivated by his friendships with early feminists. He built this first television model that privileged character over action. Rosenweig’s recitation of what it took for the series to make it to the screen is riveting. It was an international success “I was backstage when Paul McCartney asked Sharon Gless for her autograph,” he reveals.
His now-wife Barbara Corday and her friend Barbara Avedon co-created the original series and these later films. In her interview she points to how their feminism impacted on both the process and the content of their work.
Gless herself had to fight her corner at the start. “I was the blond with the tits, and I wasn’t going to have it.” Her criticism of these movies is accurate: “The worst move was having Cagney get married.” She points out that theirs was the first cop series in which cases were actually lost.
Daly, a more political observer, comments about her character’s married life: “We weren’t beautiful and we weren’t invested in being beautiful. We were sexy. And we were blue collar. We weren’t the couple on the hill. We were the couple on the couch.”
Overall, the Cagney & Lacey franchise garnered 36 Emmy nominations and won 14 Emmy Awards in their seven seasons and when the network tried to cancel them, a successful letter-writing campaign kept them on air from 1982-88. In these later films, while we may find their personalities more pronounced and their fitness a bit eroded, they continue to be unapologetically engaging.
This review first appeared on www.EdgeBoston.com
4 DVD box set
BOX SET CONTENTS:
• Disc 1. Cagney & Lacey: The Return (November 6, 1994)
• Disc 2. Cagney & Lacey: Together Again (May 2, 1995)
• Disc 3. Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling (October 25, 1995)
• Disc 4. Cagney & Lacey: True Convictions (January 29, 1996)