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"You call this plain clothes…?" (Re)watching Cagney & Lacey

Discussion in 'TV Central' started by Mel O'Drama, Sep 23, 2016.

  1. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I forgot to mention some interesting casting.

    Fred Grandy, of course, trying to look not like Gopher with his menacing beard. He reminded me of Jack Bannon's post-Lou Grant appearances on Knots Landing and Falcon Crest but without the head shave. ;)

    And two from Star Trek - Wrath of Kahn's Bibi Besch and DS9's Armin Shimerman. Oddly I recognised the latter sans Ferengi makeup but didn't recall the former until seeing her name in the closing credits.
     
  2. Seaviewer

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    It's impossible to recall what that would have felt like at the time. Watching it now, I knew where it was going to end because I've read that the WTC was deliberately built across from Miss Liberty I guess for just that effect. More recent history is now forever overlaid on that view.

    This episode continues the style of the last with the strike and the case being used to reveal more of the relationships and backstories. It occurs to me that in that sense this season is really "the true beginning". Until now the characters may have been superbly drawn and acted but here is where they became real and we started to fall in love with them.

    A couple of continuity nitpicks: Cagney needs the concept of a task force explained to her despite having headed one in "Beauty Burglars" and when she has to wear her uniform she says she had vowed never to put it on again, yet it didn't seem to bother her in "Jane Doe #37".

    Conversely, it was nice to hear Isbecki say that he and Petrie had been partners for a year and a half since that tied in with my observation that they didn't seem to be together at first. A shame that there was no specific acknowledgment of their being teamed up.
     
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  3. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Absolutely. And because of this, seeing it make an appearance in an older film or series now suggests to me - at least in that moment - that things are taking place in a different, somewhat more innocent era.

    Yes, and along the lines of your comment about the WTC, it's difficult to rewatch the earlier episodes without bearing in mind some of the character developments that took off here. I wonder what history would have made of C&L had it been cancelled for good after Season Two.

    Well spotted. Those both passed me by completely.
     
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  4. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    @Snarky's Ghost's posted video of Conti discussing the Falcon Crest theme led me on to another which covers the C&L theme. The psychology (and business acumen) behind choosing the jazzy style is a fascinating example of Rosenzweig's attention to detail:

     
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  5. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    "I don't want anyone to think it's a cop show."

    That more or less sums it up right there.
     
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  6. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    It always sounds to me like Phil DONAHUE's new theme when he moved from Chicago to NYC in 1984.
     
  7. Seaviewer

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    Not much in this one we haven't seen before. Chris and Mary Beth's reactions are consistent with their established personas by this time. I'm not sure if she's called herself Mary Elizabeth before, though. Possible psychoanalysis point with the Frenchman. ;)
    Kay Lenz, unfortunately best known for a brief marriage to David Cassidy.
     
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  8. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    In a way this episode is a reworking of "The Grandest Jewel Thief...", showcasing Christine's obsessive personality. Victor's reaction is interesting, too, in a scene which gives an insight into his and Marcus's relationship. They are usually buddy-buddy enough but here, out of Victor's line of sight, we see Marcus despairing over Victor's envy of the bounty hunter's extra-judicial methods.
    For some reason Brian Dennehy has always annoyed me as an actor, coming across as smarmy and generally unlikeable. Granted, these qualities are appropriate to the character but I'd be unlikely to want to see him on a weekly basis.
    Another example of multiple use of character names. Surely there was some discussion about this. I know people in real life can have the same name but in fiction it tends to be avoided. It's happened often enough that I'm thinking it's deliberate.

    I mentioned that last episode's guest star Kay Lenz was married to David Cassidy. Coincidently, Laurie Prange (the ex-wife of the escapee) also has a connection to him, being the Albuquerque-bound runaway in the episode of The Partridge Family which includes the song "Point Me in the Direction of ...".
     
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  9. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes indeed. I always enjoy seeing this side to Chris.

    They're a perfect pairing from a TV perspective. There's that regular kind of tension that comes from their very different outlooks and I like that they challenge each other now and then.

    I know what you mean. I'm pretty ok with those qualities in him because I just get wrapped up in watching him work. I find him a fascinating actor. But he has a very intense presence, and if it's one that you find unattractive I can understand how that would make a series in which he plays lead far less attractive a prospect. Who's to say - maybe I'd feel the same way after half a season.

    This would be an interesting one to put to Barney Rosenzweig. I'm sure there's an official line and a good reason for it. I hadn't really noticed it, but now you've pointed it out I like that it goes against the unwritten law of TV.
     
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  10. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I've been trying to work out whether the "featured" star relates to which gets top billing that week but I don't suppose that would even be a workable proposition.
    Her career-first attitude is nicely illustrated in the opening scene. She runs out of her date in full evening dress, ostensibly to save a woman being harassed, but pushes roughly past two other women and asks the victim if she's okay without waiting to see if she is. It seems obvious her real motive is the collar; it's hard to say whether that and justice are one and the same.
    The Laceys were talking about having another baby sometime last season. It was nice to see that finally pay off here.

    Yeah (the name thing). And it's not just that the Bounty Hunter was named Mike. It was in the very episode in which Michael was featured.
     
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  11. Seaviewer

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    I couldn't help but be struck by the changes in technology since then. If this was being made now Mary Beth would have whipped out her mobile phone and called 911. It gives you an appreciation for just how much on their own they were back then.
    She does like those little flattering moments, though. Harve picked up on that, much to her chagrin.
     
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  12. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Another Terry Louise Fisher written episode focussing on the frustrations of the legal system, with Georg Stanford Brown (Tyne Daly's husband at the time) as a rather pompous Assistant District Attorney.

    The scene with Chris priming Mary Beth with how she thought the defence attorney would act made me think of Gless's later Trials of Rosie O'Neil series.
    Women who are cops, not cops who are women, I believe was how Rosenzweig put it.

    This was also the episode where Chris said she wanted to be the first female police commissioner. I still think it's not too late to see that.
     
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  13. Seaviewer

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    Okay, I'm back after my self-imposed summer hiatus.
    Two issues which, sadly, still resonate today. Perhaps even more so.
    I thought that was a different Claudia.

    Going unnoticed in the first interview scene was that fact that Cagney after saying that talking to children was Lacey's department ended up being the one to coax the girl to communicate - after refusing to talk about the incident or act it out with the doll she agreed to draw it, although they all seemed to forget that she had already provided a drawing which was the reason the police had been called in in the first place.

    John Reilly, who played the father, was instantly recognisable from roles in numerous shows of the 70s and 80s. I particularly remember him romancing both the bionic woman and Wonder Woman in their respective series.
     
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  14. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yay!

    You've been missed, but I have to admire your willpower at taking a break between seasons.


    Good spots on both counts. Looking at John Reilly's CV on IMDb I would have seen him in numerous shows from the Seventies through to the Nineties. Love getting more information about these supporting players.
     
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  15. Seaviewer

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    Unlike you, I don't remember watching this before. That may be true of most of the episodes from this point. I was already a fan by this time but since they were never repeated they've all sort of blurred into a general affection.
    Henrikson in these roles is remarkably un-creepy compared to his signature turns in Aliens and Millennium. I wondered whether King was his real name or a nom de guerre adopted for its dominating inferences.
    There's been a subtle change in the way the female cops are being treated. Without making a point of it, Chris and Mary Beth's abilities are no longer being questioned. In earlier seasons someone might have suggested that the predicament was some fault of theirs but here even Isbecki pitches in for his colleagues without any derogatory comment. And in the scene where Chris visits the scene of the robbery, she finds a female detective in charge. Again, nothing is made of it.

    This sequence reminded me of the Knots Landing season 5 finale. We know what's supposed to happen and events tick off until the unforseen twist.

    In fact, one them is also a woman. Again unremarked.

    As heart-warming as the freeze-frame of the two women was, I was disappointed that we didn't see Mary Beth's reunion with Harve. When the unusual end credit continuation started I thought we might see it then but the view was too far away to be sure.
     
  16. Seaviewer

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    I had quite forgotten that Dory returned, although having said that, I did have the nagging feeling during the season 2 episodes that there had been more to his story than that. Still, I was surprised to see him added to the opening credits three episodes into this season.
    I actually was noticing that the theme sounded different and seemed to be taking longer to get to the point when Primus's picture popped up, solving that puzzle. But I don't think the new arrangement is an improvement.

    Speaking of the opening credits, I've become increasingly intrigued by the two women who walk out in front of the stars on the footpath - one of whom is noticeably pregnant.

    Do you have any information on how and where the sequence was shot? I'm wondering whether they are paid extras or if Gless and Daly were genuinely walking through the open street. Even if the latter, one would presume any identifiable passers-by would have to have signed some sort of waiver for their images to be used.
     
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  17. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes - I'd noticed the pregnant woman too. My favourites, though, are the gawping couple walking in the opposite direction at the same time. The ones that stop and turn as though they've recognised one of the actresses. I can't tell if that's the case or if they're looking at (or pretending to look at) something else. They're immortalised in the still used for the closing titles - as are pregnant woman and braless girl - and I can't see them without smiling. I've always assumed they were shot on a real street with non-actors.


    Barney Rosenzweig has talked a little about creating the scenes for the opening credits, but there's no detail about where they were shot and who the passers by were. Like you, I'd love to know more.
     
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  18. Seaviewer

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    Interesting stuff. Now I'm going to have to look out for Barney drinking his coffee. ;)
     
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  19. Seaviewer

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    The dual meaning of the title becomes apparent as the episode progresses but the key relationship is actually that of the mother and daughter - another strong performance from Gail Strickland and also from Dinah Manoff who I almost didn't recognise, being so different from her daffy signature role in Empty Nest.

    I also had to smile at the scene where Cagney and Lacey discuss playing "Good Cop Bad Cop" and both claim they don't care who plays what, when it's quite obvious which one is more suited for which one.
    It turns out that he's not hard to spot when you're looking for him. He's one of the passengers on the train. It's amazing how many times I must have seen that with no idea that he was there.
     
  20. Seaviewer

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    Back to the standard version of the credits (minus Dory) and an onscreen episode title. Not sure if this is the start of a trend or a one-time thing.
    Yeah, except for Chris's efforts at supplanting the undercover assignment with "real" detective work, a fairly ordinary procedural. It's Michael's reaction that is the heart of the story.
    I remembered that scene and the reference to James Cagney but was surprised to see that the actual "Blood on the Sun" poster was not seen until later and then only in an obscure background shot so that you would have to be looking for it to notice. Karen Arthur's direction? There must be clearer views in later episodes.
     

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