The back of the box for "Cagney and Lacey" notes that, without "Cagney and Lacey", "Thelma and Louise would not have been imaginable." And really, without "Cagney and Lacey", there'd probably be no "She Spies", either - and where would the world be without "She Spies"? All kidding and random pop culture references aside, "Cagney and Lacey" does remain a crimefighting classic.
The series ran from 1982-1988 on ABC, gaining a smaller - but devoted -following (the series was cancelled in 1983, then was brought back after fans organized a large letter-writing campaign) as the seasons went along. The show, created by Barbara Corday and Barbara Avedon, starred Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly as New York City police detectives Cagney (Gless) and Lacey (Daly). Meg Foster originally played Cagney when the series first aired, but was replaced by Gless after the first several episodes.
The show's stories were fairly standard crime series fare: hostage dramas ("Chop Shop"), robberies ("One of Our Own"), mysterious accidents ("High Steel") jewel thieves ("The Grandest Jewel Thief of Them All") and informants ("Internal Affairs" and "The Informant"). However, the series works as well as it does thanks to snappy, well-written dialogue and great performances from Daly and Gless, who do a terrific job playing two no-nonsense women who have to juggle personal and professional lives. It's impressive how, even in the first episode together, the two trade barbs like they've known each other for years. They're truly one of the great TV duos, and they make a solid core for the show and are backed up by a solid supporting cast.
Oddly enough - and maybe it's just me - the series also doesn't seem quite as dated in appearance as some of the other shows of the era. I didn't get into the series much when I was younger, but I enjoyed catching up with it on DVD.
This 25th Anniversary set is subtitled: "The True Beginning". Well, actually, this set does include the beginning of the Daly/Gless "Cagney and Lacey", but the early episodes (the short first season) with Meg Foster are not included here. Essentially, what we get here is the second season.
7. 2- 1 635-105 25 Oct 82 Witness to An Incident
8. 2- 2 635-101 1 Nov 82 One of Our Own
9. 2- 3 635-102 8 Nov 82 Beauty Burglars
10. 2- 4 635-104 15 Nov 82 High Steel
11. 2- 5 635-107 22 Nov 82 Hot Line
12. 2- 6 635-100 29 Nov 82 Internal Affairs
13. 2- 7 635-103 6 Dec 82 Mr. Lonelyhearts
14. 2- 8 635-108 13 Dec 82 Conduct Unbecoming
15. 2- 9 635-109 20 Dec 82 I'll Be Home for Christmas
16. 2-10 635-111 27 Dec 82 Recreational Use
17. 2-11 635-113 10 Jan 83 Hopes and Dreams
18. 2-12 635-112 17 Jan 83 The Grandest Jewel Thief of Them All
19. 2-13 635-114 24 Jan 83 Affirmative Action
20. 2-14 635-115 31 Jan 83 Open and Shut Case
21. 2-15 635-116 14 Feb 83 Jane Doe #37
22. 2-16 635-120 21 Feb 83 Date Rape
23. 2-17 635-117 7 Mar 83 Burn Out
24. 2-18 635-119 14 Mar 83 Chop Shop
25. 2-19 635-121 21 Mar 83 Let Them Eat Pretzels
26. 2-20 635-122 28 Mar 83 The Gang's All Here
27. 2-21 635-124 2 May 83 A Cry for Help
28. 2-22 635-123 9 May 83 The Informant
VIDEO: The full-frame presentations actually look surprisingly good, considering the age of the series. The presentations aren't crystal clear, but they remain mostly well-defined, crisp and clear. Some mild grain is occasionally seen, but it's a fine grain that adds to the look of the show. Some slight wear was spotted on occasion, but the series mostly appeared fresh and clean. No edge enhancement or artifacting were seen, and colors looked subdued (although likely by intent.)
SOUND: The series is presented here with mono audio, which sounds about as flat as one might expect from a show of this age, but no distortion is noticed and dialogue, effects and music remain clear.
EXTRAS: A 2-part featurette, "Breaking the Laws" of TV, is included on disc 4 (part 1 on one side, part 2 on the other.)This is an enjoyable and informative featurette that looks into the inspiration and development of the series, as well as issues like casting issues (such as the departure of Foster), filming and the show's legacy. It's a solid piece that includes new interviews with the participants.
Final Thoughts: While it's unfortunate that the earliest episodes were not included here, this is still an enjoyable set that offers fine audio/video quality and some nice supplemental features. Recommended.