Total Television: The Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present (1996) entry on the show

25 March 1982-25 April 1982; 25 October 1982-12 September 1983; 19 March 1984-25 August 1988. Cagney & Lacey was the first TV crime show in which the two central characters were female. Executive producer Barney Rosenzweig had formerly worked on Charlie's Angels, and was not interested in doing a show like that one; after reading Molly Haskell's history of the treatment of women in films, From Reverence to Rape, Rosenzweig conceived of a series in which the two female leads would have a Butch Cassidy-Sundance Kid relationship. The series was based on a made-for-TV movie, aired 8 October, 1981, which had starred Loretta Swit and Tyne Daly as New York police officers Chris Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey. Swit was unable to appear in a series because of her commitment to M*A*S*H, so Meg Foster was signed to play Cagney in the spring 1982 episodes.

When the series was picked up for the following season, Foster had been dropped; TV Guide quoted an unnamed CBS executive as saying that Foster's character was "too tough, too hard and not feminine." Another network executive said that audience testing revealed that the "world perceived them as too masculine." Foster was replaced in the fall of 1982 by Sharon Gless (ironically, Gless had replaced the costar of another CBS series, House Calls, a season earlier). The new combination worked: Daly's Lacey was a solid, earthy wife and mother, while Gless's Cagney was spontaneous, beautiful, and single. Between them, Daly and Gless won six consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

A fine supporting cast was also on hand, including: Al Waxman as the boss, Lieutenant Bert Samuels; Carl Lumbly as Detective Marcus Petrie; Martin Kove as macho Detective Victor Iskbecki; Sidney Clute (1982-1985) as Detective Paul LaGuardia; John Karlen as Mary Beth's patient husband, Harvey Lacey, a contractor; Tony La Torre as their older son, Harvey, Jr; Troy Slaten as their younger son, Michael; Dana and Paige Bardolph (1985-1987) and Michelle Sepe (1987-1988) as their baby daughter, Alice; Harvey Atkin as Desk Sergeant Ronald Colman, who kept his first name secret for several seasons; Barry Primus (1984-1985) as Cagney's one-time boyfriend, Sergeant Dory McKenna, who had a drug problem; Dan Shor (1985-1986) as Detective Jonah Newman; Stephen Macht (1985-1988) as Cagney's later boyfriend, lawyer David Keeler; Dick O'Neill (1983-1987) as Cagney's alcoholic father, Charlie Cagney, a retired cop; Robert Hegyves (1986-1988) as Detective Manny Esposito; Paul Mantee (1986-1988) as Detective Al Corassa; Merry Clayton (1987-1988) as Detective Verna Dee Jordan; and Carl Weintraub (1987-1988) as plumber Nick Amatucci. Producer Rosenzweig himself appeared in one episode as a Broadway producer, while his mother-in-law, Jr Corday, was seen frequently as Josie the bag lady.

Cagney & Lacey narrowly escaped cancellation after its first full season; CBS had decided not to renew the series at the end of the 1982-1983 season, but complaints from viewers helped the network to change its mind. Seven episodes were ordered as mid-season replacement fare, and the series returned to the air in March 1984, enjoying its highest ratings that spring.

Gless and Daly reprised their roles in several two-hour made-for-TV movies, including "Cagney & Lacey: The Return" (6 November, 1994 CBS) and "Cagney & Lacey: Together Again" (2 May 1995, CBS).

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