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

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

  1. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    HOOKED

    Conflict. Now this episode came as something of a surprise to me.

    First, let's talk about the post-titles credits. There's been a little experimentation this season. Heat used a different font. Subsequent episodes have reverted to the American Typewriter/Courier font, but I'm noticing different actors getting their credits bumped up to here from the end titles. First Dick O'Neill, then Harvey Akin. Now the two Lacey boys are up front. It's good to see them getting some recognition.


    LaGuardia hasn't been in the show for a few episodes now, and Cagney mentions getting a postcard from him, saying he's just left Rome and is on his way to (if I heard correctly) Columbia. I have a feeling Sidney Clute was seriously ill at this point. IMDb tells me that he does appear in a few more episodes this season. And of course he remained in the credits to the end of the run as a tribute to him.


    This episode is a great example of seamlessly blending the procedural and personal stories with the end result of strengthening both. The procedural begins as the 14th raid a drugs den. All the squad are rounding up the fleeing junkies, resulting in chaos. People get moved forcibly onto car bonnets, onto the ground and onto furniture lying about the place. Mary Beth, near the outside of the building slams her man against a mesh fence, facing inwards while she frisks him. Inside the building, Christine catches another user and directs him to the opposite side of the same fence while she searches him. So Chris and her perp are facing Mary Beth and hers. Both discover drugs on their guys and there's a moment of relief for the viewer that the operation has gone well. Then amidst the chaos, there's a moment.

    Mary Beth is reading her man his rights. Christine is cuffing hers and glances in the direction of Mary Beth. Her eyes move over Mary Beth's captive and she appears shocked. He and Chris exchange significant glances, and there's no doubt something important just happened.

    Back at the precinct, Chris tells Mary Beth that Driscoll was Dory's sponsor in his detox programme. She also calls Dory in to speak to him which Mary Beth thinks is a bad idea. Dory tells Mary Beth that Driscoll was at the shooting gallery trying to sponsor somebody else who disappeared, and asks Chris if the evidence could get lost in the shuffle.

    Next time we're at the precinct, Lacey and Cagney are in Samuels' office. Samuels, brandishing an unsealed evidence envelope, is in no mood to suffer fools:

    LACEY: "I could have sworn it was secured, sir?"
    SAMUELS: "Yeah? Well it's not secure now. The seal is broken. The chain of evidence is broken. And the case is right out the window. And 'Driscoll, James D.' walks."


    Again, significant looks are exchanged. This time between Mary Beth and Chris. There follows a complete grilling and an official oral reprimand for Lacey, and Daly does a nice job of showing us Lacey trying to remain professional and subordinate while processing the sense of betrayal that she feels her partner - watching the whole thing play out - has caused her.

    Mary Beth checks with the evidence room and discovers that Dory had signed in on the day the envelope was tampered with. Chris defends him to Mary Beth, and words are exchanged:

    CHRIS: "Dory's a good cop. He knows what it means to tamper with evidence."
    MARY BETH: "Does he? Like he knew what it meant to be a good backup to me. Or he knew what it meant to bring dope into my home? Harv never forgave him. Never."
    CHRIS: "Is that what all this is about? Huh? Something that happened two years ago?"
    MARY BETH: "Absolutely."
    CHRIS: "Well, I'm real bored with it. Dory kicked the habit. He has apologised. Now I don't know what else he has to do to please you and
    old Harv. The news is good, Mary Beth. You don't ever have to invite Dory or me to your home for dinner ever again. Isn't that great."

    The anger and hurt feelings give us the ugliest words these two women have exchanged to date. There was tension in Witness To An Incident, but this starts to feel like a war. They know each other well enough to understand how to hurt back. Chris is hurting over this affecting her personal life, so she goes after Mary Beth's family. And it almost pains me to watch it because of how invested I am in this relationship. And it gets worse when the two are alone in the ladies' room:

    MARY BETH: "Dory's on the edge. The man I saw this morning could very well have tampered with evidence. And I think he did."
    CHRIS: "Because you wanna think so. What is it - you jealous? Is that it? I get something for myself that is outside this job and you can't handle it."
    MARY BETH:"You're not even making sense."
    CHRIS: "Dory is not a perfect person, Mary Beth. He is not the great Harvey Lacey. And who'd want it! I'm so sick of hearing about Saint Harvey and your hallowed home. Well I know Dory, and he wouldn't lie to me."


    Voices are raised. Chris tries to leave. Mary Beth tries to keep her there by pushing her. Chris pushes back and the outcome is that Chris tells Mary Beth to find a new partner. It's ugly.


    None of this has escaped the attention of Samuels, who speaks gently to Mary Beth about the situation:

    "I guess I could play marriage counsellor here. I could, uh, say all the things that I'm s'posed to say about partnership. I could tell you to give a little if you can because she would too. But the truth is, Lacey, I trust your judgement. And Cagney's.


    It may be a fraught time, but it's good to take a moment at this point to think about how far things have come since those initial episodes where the two women were considered an object or ridicule by almost everyone - including Samuels.

    Chris is also on the receiving end of anger from Dory every time she broaches the subject with him.

    No matter who connects this episode, it's tense. This is a really kinetic episode. Even when things are still, there's so much going on underneath. There are some nice direction choices that aren't too in your face. Such as a scene with Dory and Chris standing just inside what appears to be a large piece of piping. It's filmed from further inside the pipe, with both silhouetted against the light for the entire scene. It's simple but effective. This is another Karen Arthur episode.

    The big news is that Harv is bedridden with a back injury. So Mary Beth also has to contend with his grumbling. The entire storyline is best summed up by a scene where Mary Beth - burnt out from confrontation with Christine - gets into bed and switches off the light. Harv apologises for being a pain, and then:

    HARV: "Know what I'd really like? A cup o' cocoa. Wit' the little marshmallows on top. We got the little marshmallows?"
    MARY BETH (frostily): "What if I get you the big marshmallows and a scissors?!"


    After one of the junkies wants to make a deal, naming Driscoll as one of the big fish in drug running, the two women agree to one last uncomfortable stakeout together, where Mary Beth has the chance to say some things to Chris:

    "I'm feeling ashamed of myself. I'm ashamed I shoved ya in the ladies' room. I'm… I'm ashamed I went behind your back to talk to Sergeant Coleman. And I'm ashamed I… I said it was Harvey that never forgave Dory. 'Cause it was me. I was holding onto bad feelings. I acted small about it and I owe you an apology. I'm sorry."

    She goes on to say she's not 100% sure she sealed the envelope properly, and if Chris believes Dory then so does Mary Beth. Chris listens in silence.

    MARY BETH: "Last thing, ok? If you wanna… If you wanna... go on still. Workin' together. Which I hope you do. You have to keep your mouth off my family."
    CHRIS: "You keep your mouth off mine."
    MARY BETH: "Deal."
    CHRIS: "Deal."


    It's one of the most satisfyingly ambiguous make-up scenes I've ever seen acted out and is telling about both women's characters. Chris gives little back to Mary Beth and continues to hold a degree of power in the relationship through her silence. There's a hard edge to her that shows her instinctive protective response when she's hurt. The resolution doesn't feel complete. And that's so rewarding.


    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Driscoll is shown to be a runner and is eventually caught by the women, leading to another significant look between Chris and Driscoll.

    The episode ends with further ambiguity with Dory swearing to Chris he didn't tamper with the evidence and Chris saying she believes him. Freeze frame.

    We never got to the bottom of how the envelope was opened. It still could have been Dory. Mary Beth could have not sealed it correctly. It could have come open accidentally. The closing scene even continues to play with the idea of the unthinkable: that Chris could have acted on Dory's wish for the evidence to become inadmissible. Three of those possibilities would be a complete game changer in the way we view these characters. And I really appreciate that we only have each's word about it.
     
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  2. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    LADY LUCK

    With the emotional resonance of the previous episode still in place, this one takes a different direction. Rather than dilute the events of the previous episode by trying to get more out of it, it takes a completely different direction with a fairly standard procedural. But there's standard, and there's Cagney & Lacey standard.

    The episode opening with Mary Beth improvising to ensure the rescue of a potential jumper has echoes of that pre-title sequence from Season One's Suffer The Children. Here, instead of whipping up a doll, Mary Beth connects by talking to the woman on the ledge of her office about their shared name and just doesn't stop. It's a nice little sequence that also throws out some nuggets of information about Mary Beth's past:

    "I always hated that. Two Marys. When I was in fifth grade, my teacher, Miss Andrews, she used to call Mary Calzone 'Mary number 1'. Guess who was 'Mary number 2'? Anyway. So… I'm a cop now and there's not a lot of us called Mary in the police department, I'll tell ya that. Do you ever get that problem?"


    The woman has everything on the surface. Visiting her home, it's learned that she's separated from her husband and doesn't see her children. Moreover, she lives in a scuzzy tenement on a bad side of town. Turns out she's a gambling addict who is in hock for tens of thousands and has stolen from her husband and children to support her habit.

    To track her down, the women go to a casino - with money from Samuels. Cut to a cute little sequence where Mary Beth discovers she has a knack for it and actually makes a profit.

    After the other Mary shows up dead and tortured, Mary Beth - guilty over not trying harder - gets pushed into becoming bad cop, and we see her throwing her weight around with a low level loan shark, sticking an umbrella in his face and - along with Chris - threatening him into giving them some names.

    A secondary story has Isbecki forming a relationship with a woman who has been violently assaulted. She is eventually assaulted again and leaves town, leaving him slightly heartbroken and showing a different side to the 14th's Casanova, which somewhat restores Mary Beth's faith in human nature:

    ISBECKI: "I never met anybody like her before. She was delicate. Like, uh… just delicate. But I guess it was too much for her. I tried to tell her there were good things in the city too. I tried to protect her. I even installed a deadbolt lock on her door. I, uh… I never even touched her, Lacey."
    LACEY: "I think you're wrong."


    The show may be episodic, but the placement of the episodes still feels quite careful and well-planned. It's never spoken, but this feels like a continuation of Mary Beth trying to be restored after the battering she took in the previous episode. And on that level it's very effective.
     
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  3. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    OUT OF CONTROL

    There are three clear plots here, with overlap between them. Chris and Mary Beth's personal storylines share the theme of difficulties with young people in their respective families - Chris when she meets Dory's children; Mary Beth when she finds Harv Jr. fascinated with her gun. The third plot also ties in with the gun theme, concerning a man killed in his own apartment during a bungled cat burglary. He was shot with a gun that his wife had obtained illegally in order to protect themselves. The latter two plots give much scope for discussion on gun control (plus ça change).

    The show opens with one of those ordinary little scenes that the show does so well. Mary Beth is in her kitchen, baking cookies and listening to Michael reading The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. It's gratifying to see a reference to his difficulties, following on from the revelation of his illiteracy in The Bounty Hunter. I believe this is the second follow-on reference (there was another episode where Harv said Michael had read himself to sleep).

    There's a little twist here, though, as we cut between two scenes playing out under the same roof. While Mary Beth is busy, Harv Jr. is in his parents' room with his friend Robert, determined to find his mother's gun in one of her hiding places. So we have two ordinary scenes with two different tones. The difference is subtly reflected by Ian Fairbairn-Smith's soundtrack. During Mary Beth and Michael's scenes there is no music - just the ordinary sounds of a kitchen and conversation. The music for Harv Jr.'s search is slightly jaunty but each time we cut back it's a little more intense.

    Back in the kitchen, Michael is having trouble with a word:

    MARY BETH: "Lemme see. 'And Jim in her calico dress'. Calico."
    MICHAEL: "What does 'calico' mean?"
    MARY BETH (after a pause): "Go get the dictionary."
    MICHAEL: "It's on Harv's bookshelf. I can't reach it."
    MARY BETH: "Oh, you are full of baloney. You just want a little time here with these cookies."

    In Mary Beth's bedroom, Michael has found the gun and is pointing it at the awestruck Robert. The music reaches a crescendo as Mary Beth walks past the bedroom door - which is slightly ajar - on her way to get the dictionary. She doesn't actually look into the bedroom - we just see a glimpse of her walking past, but by the time she bursts into the bedroom a couple of seconds later, horror is all over her face. It's one of those little moments that nicely shows the little things people - parents in particular - are aware of without actively looking. Once Mary Beth is in the room, the music drops out and is back to a tangible silence that enhances the intensity of the moment when she stands between the gun and Robert.

    The scene that follows ebbs and flows to reflect very effectively what Mary Beth is feeling. Things calm down to a relieved breath when Michael lowers the gun and her friend is out of danger. There's a moment of minor panic when he throws the gun onto the bed before Mary Beth checks to find it unloaded. She asks Robert to leave - first calmly, then not so calmly. When alone with her son, things are completely still for several moments as she attempts to compose herself to speak to him as calmly as possible. It soon becomes clear she's not calm though. On Michael's first justification her voice is raised. After his second, she walks towards him screaming, her voice breaking as she almost cries over what could have happened. Seeing that he's not hearing her, Mary Beth slaps her son across the face.

    This is the episodes's most uncomfortable moment for me. . I had a physical reaction (my stomach turned). It's shocking partly because it was so unexpected; partly due to the connection to the characters; but mostly because of the age of Tony La Torre who would be around 14-15 here. This scene isn't treated any differently because of that, and there's a feeling that he didn't get cut any breaks here as a child actor. Daly doesn't appear to pull her punches and the result is very effective.

    Chris meeting Dory's family is an opportunity to see Chris out of her depth. Particularly since Chris is all for being upfront while Dory wants to hide that he's virtually living with Chris. So their first dinner has an atmosphere, especially when Sheri, Dory's daughter quickly puts the pieces together and puts Chris through the wringer with questions. Chris tells Mary Beth that Dory's wife is controlling and needy and doesn't understand him:

    MARY BETH: "If the kids aren't screwed up, she can't be all bad. It's not easy being somebody's mother these days."
    CHRIS: "So I understand. How is Harvey Jr.?"
    MARY BETH: "Ah gee."
    CHRIS: "Mary Beth, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."
    MARY BETH: "Ah - it's all right. Forget it."
    CHRIS: "I just don't like being one-upped in an area where… I'm one-upped."


    The conversation above is a nice enough scene, but more meaningful given the events of Hooked, where harsh words were exchanged about the other's home lives and an agreement was made to avoid talking about the other's families. Firstly it serves to highlight how fragile and consequential this topic can be. Secondly it shows healing in their relationship that they don't avoid being interested in and knowledgeable about the other's home life.

    Dory's wife later contacts Chris at the office (there's a nice scene where the call is announced and Chris tries far too hard to be nonchalant as everyone watches her go toward the phone). Sheri has appendicitis and she can't get hold of Dory. And this is where this story becomes about something else. Rather than Chris and Dory's children, the scene is now about Chris and Dory's wife. There's a nicely awkward scene where Chris comes to the hospital ahead of Dory and has a conversation with Dory's wife and an understanding is reached. It's another example of what is not being said being equally important to what is.

    The funnest scene of the episode takes place between Samuels, Lacey and Cagney where they discuss trying to find the cat burglar who they know to have been wounded in a shooting (the burglar was one of Knots Landing's Scooters, by the way). Samuels has installed a brand new microwave oven in his office ("no more cold pastrami sandwiches"). It has the lot - including a walnut veneer surround. Shot over the top of it at the beginning of the scene I thought it was a TV set. Mary Beth is very excited to be part of its inaugural use while they speak:

    CAGNEY: "We don't have any leads yet, Lieutenant, but I know someone must have seen him. Apparently he lost a lot of blood so he's gonna have to go…"
    LACEY: "Oh no. You can't do that, Sir. No."
    SAMUELS: "Do what?"
    LACEY: "Put foil in a microwave, Sir. It sparks up. You have to take off that wrapper. Put it in without the wrapper. It says so in all the brochures."
    SAMUELS: "Anyway. We got a match on the .45 that Isbecki picked out of the trash."
    CAGNEY: "You did?"
    (Lacey is still chattering indistinguishably to Samuels about the microwave)
    CAGNEY: "Lieutenant? You got a match?"
    LACEY: "…It'll take less than a minute?"
    CAGNEY: "What… uh.. hello?!"
    LACEY: "Put it in here."
    SAMUELS [to Lacey]: "Yeah."
    CAGNEY: "Guys…" [brusquely] "You got a match?!"
    SAMUELS: "Well, last year there was a shipment of seventy five guns stolen from the National Guard Armoury.." [to Lacey] "What you say? One minute?"
    LACEY: "One minute."
    CAGNEY: "Yes?!"
    SAMUELS: "And the serial number of the gun that was used in the Barren homicide, well that identified itself as being one of the, uh, stolen guns.."
    CAGNEY: "Wait a minute? Lieutenant - you're not going to turn this over to the major case squad?"
    SAMUELS: "Yeah. Well, it may have to go back to the 16th on account of they had the original 61, you see. Detectives, uh, Gomez and Lekirker. They've been following the gun heist now for about eleven months. What I don't understand here, Lacey, is…"
    CAGNEY: "But that isn't right…"
    SAMUELS: "…why, if the, uh, tinfoil is going to spark and…"
    CAGNEY: "Lieutenant? That isn't right that we…"
    LACEY: "Wax paper or plastic wrap… That'll work…"
    SAMUELS: "Plastic?"
    CAGNEY: "Uh. Eh. ENOUGH ABOUT THE OVEN!"


    In response to Cagney's shout, the surprised look on her own face is hilarious. Like she had no idea she was about to say it. It's a really nice, comic little scene. The overlapping dialogue, plot exposition, mixed agendas, kinetic direction and character responses all make this a magic little few minutes.


    After spending the episode trying to get through to Harv Jr. about the seriousness of his actions, the episode ends at the morgue, with the autopsy of a shooting victim. A "fifteen year old black male approximately sixty inches in height and 113 lbs". Perhaps deliberately, this closely matches the description of Harv Jr.'s friend Robert. The moment is slightly diluted when the corpse's eyelashes flicker, but that's forgotten as the short scene plays out. The coroner describes in detail the trauma caused by the bullet, while a team in blue scrubs move about her with the efficiency of experience. Cameras are flashed. Lights are moved round. A small circular saw type tool buzzes into action.

    We pan to a viewing window where Harv Jr. observes the scene with horror and Mary Beth stands behind him watching solemnly. After some moments, he turns back to his mother, seeking affection. Taking him by the shoulders, Mary Beth gently turns young Harvey back round to continue watching the autopsy. When the frame freezes, the coroner's commentary continues over the still picture of Mary Beth and Harvey. It's another hard hitting moment in this relationship.
     
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  4. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    AMERICAN DREAM

    The humdrum of surveillance in C&L is always shown really well. This episode highlights how budget impacts on a stakeout. There have been a series of fires in the garment district. With little evidence of a protection racket, apart from the word of one business owner who won't get involved, Samuels can only budget for a car. Watching the suspect's grand home in an affluent areas from the car draws attention and the women are reported to the local uniformed police by the suspect himself (who then draws up in his Ferrari).

    The business owner in question here is quite the character. A charming Jewish tailor with nicely comic use of Yiddish terms. There's a nice scene where his wife brings down sandwiches to the detectives while they're watching his shop from across the street, compromising their stakeout (but delivering a helpful note from the tailor).

    By the latter part of the episode, they have been upgraded to a van containing monitoring equipment and lots of flashing lights. But still it's not perfect. Mary Beth is finding it difficult to study with their target's penchant for country and western music, while Chris and the tech guy helping them find themselves increasingly bored by Mary Beth's talk of domestic bliss.

    Mary Beth's excitement is coming from Harv's new job and the increased income that comes with it. Mary Beth has her sights set on a new fridge, but Harv insists she should have something she wants, not something they need. And so it is that Mary Beth asks for an engagement ring - something they couldn't afford at the time.

    On top of this, Harv decides they should look at houses, and spontaneously puts an offer in on one. Incidentally, donning a suit has had more than a superficial effect on Harv. I noticed during this episode, whenever he used his wife's name he called her Mary Beth, rather than Mairy Bet. Maybe someone noticed that was getting a little annoying. Here's hoping it sticks.

    It's good to see Mary Beth swooning over her dream of living in a house becoming a reality, and even more fun to see Chris taking a more pragmatic view with discussion of taxes and lawn maintenance.

    The final scene turns an ordinary episode into something special with a balance of dreams come true and broken dreams. It begins with Mary Beth and Harvey very much together and sharing with each other. Harvey isn't believing in the job he's doing and gives a nice little speech with his reasons (it involves carving names into steel and being able to show his son a building he constructed - things he can't do with his new position). Mary Beth is the one to say that he needs to give it up which - of course - he agrees to. It means no house, which Mary Beth insists is only a postponement until things change. Harv produces an engagement ring to Mary Beth's delight. Then she goes to the kitchen and they're in two different worlds with two different agenda. Harvey - off-screen - is rattling on about sprucing up the apartment the following summer. Mary Beth, now alone is shown to be heartbroken and completely alone with it. It's one of those magic Tyne Daly moments.
     
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  5. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    HAPPILY EVER AFTER

    It's another "Mary Beth gets giddy while Chris remains unmoved" episode. This time the excitement is over news from Chris.

    Dory gets back from an assignment. Chris has prepared food but he's been gorging on junk food and isn't hungry. Chris is put out about this, so he agrees to eat it. Chris tells him not to bother. He asks if it can be frozen. She huffily replies that it can.

    Somewhere in the middle of all this, he proposes to her. It's all very casual, out of left field and almost inappropriate. In other words, it's all very Knotsy.

    While Chris doesn't agree right away, Mary Beth is completely swept up in the idea. Their work takes them to a department store, and Chris is encouraged by her excited partner to register for china patterns and look at bridal dresses ("Have you got anything in red?", Chris asks the nonplussed assistant). Mary Beth even offers her services as matron of honour.

    The contrast between their two characters is what really makes this episode fly. It's not about Chris and Dory so much as it is the differences in Chris and Mary Beth's belief systems. Mary Beth can't understand why Chris would even view not accepting as an option. It must mean that Dory isn't the right man, she suggests. Chris is sure that one thing has nothing to do with another. Dory wants to go over finances together (a huge presumption on his part that casts doubt on his motives for me). This leads to a conversation about joint bank accounts. Mary Beth is sure that married couples must have a joint bank account. Anything otherwise, she says, is having one foot outside the marriage. Chris doesn't see it that way.

    So Chris speaks to someone who does see things her way: Charlie. She breaks the news over a game of pool. He's happy for her, but not excited, commenting that he always felt they shared the same independent streak.

    There's a pivotal scene which - appropriately enough - takes place in the ladies' room. Chris and Mary Beth are getting ready to leave. Chris, looking in the mirror, applies her lipstick then casually mentions she's going to turn Dory down (I liked the way the informality and lack of excitement mirrored the proposal). Mary Beth's reaction continues the contrast to the point it's almost like they're in different shows. "What did Dory do to you?", she asks Chris in horror.

    The episode ends with the women in the bar drinking; Mary Beth trying for all she's worth to see Chris's point of view. There's a strong defiance in Chris throughout the entire episode that comes to a head here. She's insisting she's not someone who will be forced to fit a mould. She is happy with her life and doesn't need external validation of that. It's pure Cagney.


    The procedural plot shows another irritant to the police. The desire to overlook seemingly petty crimes that cost them time, paperwork and money. In this case, someone in the accounts department of a department store has stolen between 1 and 99 cents from the customer for every item returned to the store. This has accumulated him tens of thousands of dollars: but with tens of thousands of witnesses it would take a lifetime to go through proceedings. Curiously, the episode almost seems to be sending the message that it's the kind of crime one can get away with. There is a consequence, but it comes from elsewhere. But that's C&L for you.
     
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  6. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh - LaGuardia is back in one of the episodes I watched last night. Which is great. I'm curious to the background of all this. Were his remaining episodes spaced apart to make it more balanced. Or was Sidney Clute taking a little time off here and there?
     
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  7. Kevmac

    Kevmac Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I'm thinking he may have been ill at the time, Mel'.... He died in October 1985 (Cancer) :(
     
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  8. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks Kev. Yes - you're quite right - he would have been ill at this point. But what I'm curious about is how they worked his schedule around it.

    In particular I was wondering if Sidney left and returned a couple of times as LaGuardia does in the episodes (presumably while he was undergoing treatment), or if he left never to return and they deliberately spaced his remaining episodes out so that LaGuardia would still appear in episodes through to the end of Season Four.

    Stuff like this always fascinates me. I'll have to see if there's any continuity stuff that may give this away. Or maybe I should see if there's anything about it in Rosenzweig's book. ;)
     
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  9. Kevmac

    Kevmac Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    There may well be, Sir....

    ...... Yes.... I wonder how they worked around it... ? As I suspect the episodes would have been written long before filming took place.... ? :) Physical absence must be far harder to deal with than say pregnancy for an actress..... where they can simply alter the camera angles..... ;)
    My sister is an example of the latter. When she became pregnant early-season of the soap she was in, they kept her firmly behind the counter of the shop her character worked in and luckily only had to re-write a small part of a major storyline in which she was involved.... :) For the following 5 months, she was filmed either behind the cash register or in an over-sized cardigan.... :D
     
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  10. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    RULES OF THE GAME

    Chris and Mary Beth are assigned to a special task force investigating the murder of a Hungarian diplomat. This makes for a change of dynamic, with our base being a different office.

    This episode was written and directed by women. Which may not seem that important, but given the way the story develops, their input adds a necessary weight and depth.

    Leading the force is Captain Jack Hennessey, a ruggedly handsome dynamic up-and-comer played by Ed Winter. Something that comes through in his interactions with two women is an inequality, based on the way he perceives them. Chris is paired up with Hennessey and shown to be respected. Mary Beth is given clerical work, her ideas shot down by him.

    Complicating things is that as they work together it becomes apparent that Hennessey is attracted to Chris. It begins with references to her femininity, her attractiveness and leads to a dinner invitation. Then another. Chris is shown to be uncomfortable with but handles with as much tact as possible. On the first invitation she tells him she’s busy. On the second, she is clearer:

    CHRIS: “The truth is, Jack, I don’t believe in mixing business with pleasure anymore.”
    JACK: “Anymore? What that sounds like is that I’m payin’ for some other cop’s mistakes. I don’t think that’s fair, do you?”


    This is an acknowledgement to Chris’s relationship with Dory. Indeed, in the last episode they were engaged. I guess Dory is gone for good.

    Later in the week, Jack takes Chris to an swish restaurant to meet a witness. Chris swiftly realises it’s a ploy:

    CHRIS: “You went to all this trouble just to take me out to dinner?”
    JACK: “I warned you - I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
    CHRIS: “Well, that’s very flattering, Jack. But when I say no, I mean no.”...
    JACK: “Aww - come on Chris. You don’t have to act the tough cop with me. You can wear the pants in public. In private, with me... you can let ‘em down.”
    CHRIS: “You’re way out of line, Captain.”


    Jack takes his wounded ego out on Chris at work. A ballistics report she submitted to him goes missing, putting her under pressure to get a new one. Then it mysteriously shows up again.

    Chris discusses it, first with Mary Beth, then with Samuels. Both are supportive, though there is an element of doubt to both their responses:

    MARY BETH: “I have to admit, I’m not surprised.”
    CHRIS: “Beg your pardon?”
    MARY BETH: “Well, it’s no secret that you’ve been the apple of this man’s eye since he brought us on the case.”
    CHRIS: “He liked my work. What was I supposed to do?”
    MARY BETH: “Make sure that he knew that you weren’t interested.”


    SAMUELS: “I can understand where a guy might... misread the situation. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not sayin’ you’re leadin’ the guy on. It’s just, uh, y’know... men and women workin’ together nowadays. Sex coming out from behind closed doors. Things are different today. One minute a joke is sexy. Next minute it’s sexist. Where do you draw the line?”
    CHRIS: “I draw the line at blackmail. Because that’s exactly what he’s doing. If I don’t cooperate, all of a sudden my job gets tough.


    When they’re alone, Jack’s own accusations follow this same train of thought:

    JACK: “You came on to me real friendly that first night when you thought I could grease some wheels for ya. Now you’re playing the hysterical virgin when it’s time to pay the bill.”

    In a nice touch, a scene where things get too much for Chris and she vents to Mary Beth takes place in the ladies’ room of their temporary station.

    Chris presses on with her charges, at risk of her career, and it’s good to see. There were a number of opportunities for her to back out of pushing forward, but here she is, feeling quite alone in this but still trusting her instincts. It feels right.

    There’s a plot with Harv wants to make a will and sulks until Mary Beth agrees to make one too. It’s a little tiresome but does conclude with quite a sweet Blake and Krystle type moment on the roof of their building with the boys’ portable record player and a candle:

    HARV: “Tonight we dance, because I decided we are not gonna die. You know why?”
    MARY BETH: “Why?”
    HARV: ‘Cos we love each other too much. That’s why.”
    MARY BETH: “Oh Harv. That’s the most romantic thing that you ever said to me.”


    There’s a definite theme of Lacey getting swept up in romance this season.
     
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  11. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    STRESS

    The episode opens with the two women told to take a few days off having accumulated too much overtime. Their contrasting reactions are amusing. Mary Beth thrilled at the opportunity to organise her cupboards. Chris, peeved that she can’t work on for nothing, grudgingly goes shopping for her new state of the art sound system.

    Fortunately, Chris gets some action as she hears a scream in the street, witnesses a stabbing and goes in pursuit of the perp.

    The guy, Stokes, is really creepy. I mean really, really, über creepy. Brandishing a bloody knife and smirking at her as she demands him to drop it. At the station, Stokes is uncooperative and very, very intense as he leans in to Chris and lowers his voice:

    “How would you like to spend the rest of your life missing some major parts of your anatomy?”

    He follows this by putting his tongue to his lips. In a really creepy move.

    Chris casually mentions this to Mary Beth and ends up under police protection.

    Stokes’s bail is set at $5000, which Chris is convinced is too low. Stokes has a chequered history but has never been charged. Chris is certain this is because he intimidates witnesses. In this case, all witnesses claim not to have seen anything. The only person willing to testify is the victim. And Chris. The victim discharges himself from the hospital and shortly is found dead in an alley.

    At home, Chris is feeling increasingly claustrophobic under police guard, and there are some very atmospheric scenes of her alone at home feeling edgy and spooked. Just after the half hour comes a very tensely staged night scene where Chris is having a glass of milk, hears a noise, gets her gun and goes to the door to investigate. This is where it gets into full-on thriller mode and I got very creeped out watching it.

    Chris looks out of her peep-hole, sees nothing, so opens the door and looks outside. There’s nobody there. She comes in, spends some time locking her door and then walks slowly to her bed with the milk. She gets into bed, still holding her gun and flops down moodily. As she puts her head back on the pillow, she looks to the skylight and sees a man’s shadow moving on top of it, looking in. This burst with the dramatic burst of music prompted a reaction from me. And my reaction freaked the cat out, who leapt from my lap and hid in the kitchen until the end of the episode.

    Ah well. It’s hallowe’en. Everyone’s entitled to one good scare!

    It’s a very effective scare moment, and quite unexpected for a tv show of this genre.

    But it doesn’t end there. Chris goes onto the roof to find her attacker, causing me some wet palms. She finds Petrie and Isbecki... along with evidence that Stokes has been there for some time. Stokes himself has disappeared.

    The whole storyline here has a very similar feel to When A Stranger Calls. The creepy antatonist. The atmospheric scenes of Chris in isolation. The stalking. Even the music is very reminiscent of that film. Dana Kaproff, by the way, scored that film and this episode, and the similarities are striking.

    There’s a carefully staged ending to the storyline that both frustrated and impressed me. Chris and Mary Beth have been out to dinner. Petrie and Isbecki are observing from the car outside. Then a random stranger snatches Chris’s bag, punching her in the face and knocking her over. Mary Beth tries to stop him but he pushes her over too. Then Mary Beth calls for Petrie and Isbecki, and it’s only then they get out of their car to give chase. So I’m frustrated about how long they took.

    Petrie and Isbecki give chase. Then came the part I started shaking my head at. Mary Beth helps Chris up. Chris wants to clean the blood on her face back in the restaurant, but Mary Beth leaves her to “call it in”. So Chris went into the darkened corridors leading to the restaurant’s ladies’ room by herself. Followed by Stokes. With more moody Kaproff music.

    We cut between Chris leaning over the sink, washing her face and Stokes stalking her, knife ready. He walks into the ladies room and closes the door. Mary Beth remains bent over the sink as Stokes advances.

    Then comes the twist. A cubicle door opens with a crash... and there was LaGuardia, gun in hand ordering Stokes to drop his knife. Chris turned to show her gun was ready, and Mary Beth and Petrie appeared at the doorway, also pointing their guns. Chris gets to read Stokes his rights while making eye contact and holding her gun to his chin.

    The whole thing was a set-up, organised by LaGuardia. Not only did Chris get to have her closure, but it was a wonderful moment for LaGuardia too.


    Elsewhere, the team are forced to attend a work-related stress encounter group. It takes a while for them to get into the swing, but they have a go:

    ISBECKI: “I think Barry Manilow is an underrated performer. I mean, maybe he’s not hip or high brow, but he sings the songs the whole world sings.”

    There’s a poignant little bit of development for Coleman here:

    COLEMAN: “First time I had pictures taken of my daughter, I called them ‘mugshots’.”
    PETRIE: “Coleman, I didn’t even know you had a daughter.”
    COLEMAN: “You never asked. Her name’s Betty. She’s retarded. She goes to a special school.”
    PETRIE: “I’m s... sorry.”
    COLEMAN: “No need to be. She’s a lot happier than a lot of kids I’ve seen.”


    The episode closes in the encounter group. The scene begins with loud laughter, and ends with quiet stillness as Chris delivers a monologue about how she felt while being stalked. Yet another great Gless moment.

    There’s yet another plot where a stray dog attaches himself to Samuels, who at first wants nothing to do with him. There’s a sweet scene where the little boy who lost him comes to collect him to find that Samuels is prepared, with a bag full of dog accessories which he then hands over to the boy. It’s always good to see a storyline that shows Samuels’ soft underbelly.

    The episode felt quite unexpected to me, effortlessly handling suspense thriller without losing the integrity of what makes it Cagney & Lacey. LaGuardia's sting at the end took a little suspension of disbelief, hinging as it did on everything working out a certain way. But it was satisfying enough for me to swallow it without too much trouble.
     
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  12. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    WHO SAID IT'S FAIR? (Part I)

    First off, let's talk about Dana Kaproff's music in these episodes. It's poignant, sweet and haunting. Truly beautiful.

    Thanks to the music, the tone is established in those very first scenes where Harv is walking round the kitchen at night by himself. The episode's theme is established in an interesting way - through mystery. Seeing Harvey stressed, and not being clear why, my mind started working overtime. Had I missed an episode. Had I somehow started watching Part II before Part I? Further mystery when he makes an illicit phone to Chris and asks to meet her without Mary Beth finding out. Could this be the start of Cagney & Lacey's first soapy extra-marital affair between leads? Even knowing it wasn't, there's something about it that unsettles and makes the stakes feel higher.

    Adding the the mystery we get suspense when Mary Beth gets a call as they are leaving and Chris has no choice but to accompany her partner, knowing Harvey is waiting for her. Even when she gets along, it takes a while to get to the crux of the matter as we see the pair exchanging polite smalltalk. None of it is wasted though, and we learn about some early dates of Chris and how Harv proposed to Mary Beth in a restaurant (second time) and she spilled ravioli down him.

    Then he gets to it, and tells how he found a lump in Mary Beth's breast and she's being evasive about it. Now it's down to Chris to approach it. And she's met with denial and rejection.

    This is an interesting colour on Mary Beth. Negotiating conversations and cherry picking what she wants to discuss - ignoring anything that doesn't sit well with her - is quite a turnaround for her. Even when she is backed into a corner, her anger is formidable:

    CHRIS: "Mary Beth. Will you talk to me?"
    MARY BETH: "Talk? You wanna talk about how we feel in case maybe I have breast cancer. Ok. In case maybe I have breast cancer - you go first."
    [Chris is silent]
    CHRIS: "Thanks for the chat, Christine."


    Mary Beth’s behaviour reflects perfectly the isolation she is feeling in this situation. There are several moments throughout the episode that add to this and give the viewer a connection to her feelings of being alone with this burden. None more so than a scene where she takes her first faltering steps towards acceptance by visiting a doctor.

    In the waiting room she looks round. First at a fifty-something couple holding hands. Then an older lady, deep in thought. Then a young mother holding her child. This is accompanied by the most beautiful piece of music yet.

    Running from the surgery, she goes home to Harvey:

    MARY BETH: “You don’t have to go there. You don’t have to go there and sit there and look at your future in some little brochures with a special holder about cancer and dying.”
    HARV: “No-one said dying. Even if it’s cancer, no-one said you are going to die.”
    MARY BETH: “Yeah. Well, maybe I’ll get lucky, huh Harv? Maybe they’ll just cut me in pieces and pump me full of chemicals.”


    It’s a complex scene emotionally, with Mary Beth carrying fear, anger, grief, sadness. She’s strong one minute then falling apart. Daly’s complete investment means she takes the audience with her. Once again, Kaproff's score gently carries us along.


    The procedural case focusses on a young boy, Kevin Taggart, who has gone missing a couple of times. On the first time he has turned up and the women overhear his mother hitting him. Then he disappears again. Both are concerned, but Mary Beth has connected with his mother and sees it's not a cut and dried case of abuse. It also gives us a little more of Mary Beth's backstory:

    MARY BETH: "I was a latch key kid myself before they called it that. After my father took off my mother had to go to work. I was by myself every day after school from when I was eight. And I didn't turn into a thief and I didn't run away from home."
    CHRIS: "This is completely different Mary Beth,"
    MARY BETH: "Why? Because I'm white?"
    CHRIS: "No. And you know I didn't mean that."


    The boy's mother, Eleanor Taggart, is played by Lynn Whitfield. A terrific actress who I haven't seen in enough things (I remember her mostly from the short-lived medical drama HeartBeat). She gives this woman layers. Even though I haven't been exactly in her situation, I can empathise and see she's trying to live as graceful a life as possible.

    ELEANOR: "You make a nice salary paid you by the city. You can afford a babysitter or private daycare. I make eighty cents above minimum wage. I take home less than a hundred and thirty dollars a week. An' I got a choice, right? Big choice. I can either pay for daycare or pay my rent."
    MARY BETH: "Mrs Taggart, there's city agencies…"
    ELEANOR: "Uh huh? Charity. Welfare! The ADC and food stamps is the same as I make for forty hours. I didn't want Kevin to grow up on handouts. So I went out and I got myself trained. And I got a job so he could see somebody standin' on their own two feet. And what did it get me? People going around here telling me I'm a bad mother because I don't wanna stay home on welfare!"


    Kevin is eventually revealed to be given money by a drug dealer to deliver drugs for him. Making a drop at a refuse tip, he’s fallen into a crevice, eventually found and Chris effects a rescue with the 14th on hand to help.

    There’s a light little moment where Chris waits to see the news report to be horrified when the cameraman focusses on Isbecki’s grinning mug and the reporter uses male pronouns when referring to Chris Cagney:

    CHRIS: “Now everybody thinks I’m Isbecki!”
    ISBECKI: “Worse than that, they think I’m you.”


    This moment is perfectly balanced with Mary Beth getting a call from her doctor. The music builds and after the call we see the team in the foreground, cheering their result. In the background, Mary Beth sits down. Alone.

    Coming home to Harvey, she she goes about her business: taking her coat off; unloading and hiding her gun; while she tells him she may have to have her breast removed. It’s another scene of emotional swings and roundabouts. Her calmness dissipates when Harv tries to physically comfort her, resulting in her complete fury, then sadness and finally emptiness. Once again, Daly pitches it perfectly.

    The episode is an example of the series at its best. There's a balance of personal and procedural, each serving to complement the other and create an undercurrent that flows through each scene, regardless of it being verbalised or not (Mary Beth getting lost in the case to avoid her feelings epitomises this perfectly). There are lighter moments and some top drama. The subject matter is handled in a typically uncompromising - almost brutal - way, without veering into schmaltz or melodrama. Throw in the music and the performances and it's no surprise this two-parter is another multiple Emmy winner.
     
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  13. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    WHO SAID IT’S FAIR (Part II)

    Without any kind of recap or preview, it’s straight into the episode. Not a moment is wasted to tell this story.

    Lacey arrives at work and is called into Samuels’ office. While looking for a file he’s found pamphlets on breast cancer in Cagney’s drawer. This is a nice bit of continuity, as we were clearly shown Chris looking at them in the drawer in the last episode, debating whether to give them to Mary Beth. I love how ordinary this scene feels. Mary Beth still has her her overcoat over a thick woollen turtleneck sweater, which suggests a cold New York day. On another level it could also suggest she is wrapping herself up to protect herself from the world in general. As the conversation goes along, her looks are wonderful. While Samuels is asking if Cagney is worried about anything, she has a deer in the headlights look of fear, glancing round trying to work out where this is going, as though wondering if Chris has betrayed a confidence. When Samuels produces the sweaters, she looks almost relieved to be forced into a corner and becomes quite matter of fact:

    SAMUELS: “If she’s got cancer, she shouldn’t be reading about it. She should be doing something about it. Do you know if she is?”
    MARY BETH (standing up): “It’s not Cagney, sir. It’s me. She got those for me. To persuade me to go and see a doctor. Which I did Friday. They say malignant.”
    SAMUELS: “Anything I can do?”
    MARY BETH: “No sir, thank you. Uh... I see a surgeon today. He says what comes next. If it’s ok with you, I mean. It shouldn’t take longer than my regular lunch hour, sir.”


    The way Daly’s voice breaks slightly as she says “malignant” reveals the feeling behind it, but it’s very subtle.

    Next we watch Mary Beth approach the surgeon’s office as Dana Kaproff’s beautiful piano plays. But we don’t follow her in. What happens next is too important, so like all key Cagney & Lacey scenes, it takes place in the ladies’ room. Chris walks in to find Mary Beth sitting quietly:

    CHRIS: “Hi.”
    MARY BETH: “I’m scheduled for a mastectomy on the twenty sixth.”



    Mary Beth starts joking, and there’s even a reference to her smoking (“If I’d known I’d have never quit”). Again, this is a nice bit of continuity. Mary Beth smoked all through Season One and quit in Better Than Equal, nearly three years earlier.

    After a gentle conversation with the boys, we see Mary Beth reach the anger stage of the process. After a rough morning in court, she gets into a blazing argument with a van driver in the precinct car park which is actually really funny. He gives her the finger then they have a standoff with their vehicles facing each other, hand on their horn (“Go back to Jersey”, she screams over the noise).

    At the precinct, there’s another of those scenes that gently builds. Mary Beth is irritated by files being dumped on her desk. Samuels suggests she takes a little time off, which she declines. He tries to help her with the files and she drops them in the middle of the busy office, screaming at Samuels.

    This is followed by several moments of complete silence where everyone present looks on in complete shock. This gives Mary Beth the opportunity to fill them in:

    “I have cancer. I have breast cancer. And so Coleman won’t have to take any bets on it, it’s this one here. Left one. Ok? Does that satisfy everybody’s curiosity? I have to have an operation, but I don’t want people treating me like I’m some kind of freak. I would appreciate it if everybody’d just forget about it please.”

    She bends over to pick up the files, and is left to it. Once again, the theme of her being alone.

    The story with Kevin takes another turn as he is taken into care based on the women’s report. This gives us a nice grounding “typical” ying/yang story where the two women see things slightly differently with Chris the pragmatist and Mary Beth the humanist. The women are asked to testify for the city in the courtroom. The women decide to persuade Kevin to tell them about the dealers and try to find them. This gives Mary Beth an excuse to get lost in her work. And when the moment of action comes, she takes her anger out on her work, taking unnecessary risks in her pursuit of an armed suspect down an escape ladder, to Chris’s disgust:

    “Are you all right? What the hell are you trying to prove here? Are you trying to kill yourself? Do it on your own time, Mary Beth. Listen - you want to keep ignoring the people who care about you, you’re already dead anyway.”

    With much persuasion, Chris persuades Mary Beth to have a second opinion from Dr Larwin. There’s a mildly amusing piece of casting here: Dr Larwin is played by Martin E. Brooks, AKA Dr Rudy Wells who rebuiltThe Six Million Dollar Man. Their first scene together contains a lot of facts and stats and feels a little too knowing to me. Mary Beth asks the right questions and Dr Larwin helpfully answers them. There’s a sense that the information in the scene is pitched firmly towards the viewers. Which is admirable, but as a consequence it does feel slightly less truthful than the scenes surrounding it - like the actors are reading from one of Chris’s pamphlets. The key thing that comes out of it in terms of development is that Mary Beth can have a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy.

    The operation can be done quickly. One of the downfalls for Mary Beth is that she won’t be able to be in court:

    CHRIS: “I’ll take care of the hearing.”
    MARY BETH: “That’s what I’m worried about, Christine.”
    CHRIS: “Mary Beth, I have to tell the truth as I saw it.”
    MARY BETH: “Yeah. I’m gonna miss the Sergeants’ exam.”
    CHRIS: “So, you can take the next Sergeants’ exam.”
    MARY BETH: “Right. What’s four years?”



    I was surprised to learn that Mary Beth will have to wait for years even with these circumstance. Ironically, we’ve seen Mary Beth studying for it more than most it in quite a number of recent episodes - like while on stakeouts. The only person not bothered is Isbecki, who is too busy talking at Marcus about his exploits with Bonbon. It’s a nice, light story, but it does give the one moment of the entire episode I couldn’t buy where Marcus politely asks Isbecki to stand up, and then punches him in the face with full force, knocking him to the floor. It was entirely out of character, and I can’t believe for a minute that Isbecki or the force would allow Marcus to walk away from it with impunity.

    In the courtroom, Cagney speaks up for Eleanor as a mother. For much of the scene she maintains eye contact with Eleanor, and there are some beautiful looks between them. It’s a nice moment for Lyn Whitfield and the young actor playing Kevin as well as for Gless. It also feels like Cagney’s little tribute to her partner.

    There are some very authentic-feeling hospital scenes, kicking off with one scene where Mary Beth goes over practical stuff with Harvey. Later, Samuels comes to visit her, awkwardly holding flowers to tell her to hang in there:

    MARY BETH: “Lieutenant, I’m sorry I yelled at you in front of the whole squad room like that. I know that you were tryin’ to help, sir.”
    SAMUELS: “Forget it. The important thing is that you get through this and that you come back to work. We’re, uh...” [he falters] “We’re short-handed without you.”


    By the time Chris comes to visit, Mary Beth is hopped-up on pre-op. Some of the laughter looks very genuine, particularly a moment where John Karlen speaks with a chortle.

    Scenes of Mary Beth’s operation are cross cut with the 14th squad taking the Sergeants’ exams while a classical-sounding string piece is played by Kaproff. In the waiting room of the hospital they’re still chatting about it when Harv comes to tell them all has gone well with the hospital. While everyone else goes to celebrate, Chris stays to visit her partner, leaning over the bed and they hold hands. It’s a simple scene, but one of the series’ most beautiful. I appreciated that it felt very authentic and unglamorous. The little detail of Mary Beth’s dressing being marked with some kind of tincture made it feel very real world and tangible.

    Tyne Daly earned her Emmy here, as did writer Patricia Green and editor Jim Gross. I was very surprised, though, to learn that Dana Kaproff was not even nominated, as the music is some of the most beautiful I’ve heard on a TV show.
     
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  14. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    LOST AND FOUND

    The increasing serialisation of the series is working in the show’s favour, and this episode is a great example of this. Many earlier episodes could be shown in any order and still work. This episode could only possibly take place after Who Said It’s Fair? and wouldn’t work if other episodes aired in between them.

    Case in point: we join Chris and Mary Beth having lunch. Mary Beth is discussing her treatment (she’s finished radiation therapy, her implants are fine and she doesn’t have to see the doctor for another month). Meanwhile, at the office, everyone is planning for the next stage of the sergeants’ exam, which involves being on film.

    Mary Beth discloses to Chris that she wants to take an extended leave of absence. Chris, naturally isn’t happy about this. The conflict between the two women that comes from Chris’s decision - with hurt feelings leading to anger - feels very real and organic. It’s also a really nice choice for the series, navigating any danger of the show feeling too comfortable or the characters losing their edge having bonded. We’re reminded here that each woman is strong and has her own agenda.

    There’s also a reference to an earlier episode when Chris talks over her concerns with Samuels and he reminds her that Lacey bounced back from her experiences in Burn Out.

    The sergeants exam gives us another interesting cross cutting between two scenes. Petrie is asked to speak to his examiners on the correct way to interrogate a suspect:

    PETRIE: “The object of any interrogation is to take control of the situation and place the suspect at a total disadvantage. First, separate the suspect from any familiar environment and conduct the interrogation in alien surroundings - preferably precinct headquarters. In order to maximise the intimidation of the suspect the physical location should offer no distractions of any kind that might deter the suspect’s focus from the officers in charge. Always remain calm and in full control of the situation.”

    This is interesting enough, but while we hear Petrie giving this information, we see Chris trying to track down the people who stole her car, doing the exact opposite of what Petrie is saying, the juxtaposition proving comical, such as Chris kicking an unanswered door on the last line above.

    She gets results though, and tackles Hector, a charming car thief that she blackmails into becoming an informer.

    Meanwhile, Mary Beth is learning that her family have quite full lives and don’t need her nearly as much as she thought. So she goes to the beauty shop and with curlers in her hair and nails drying, she idles away her time in chit-chat showing family pictures to a woman who tells Mary Beth her eyes are “big and brown - just like Bambi’s”:

    HOUSEWIFE: “You’re a policewoman? Like Angie Dickinson?”
    MARY BETH: “Oh, don’t I wish? No, I’m a detective.”
    HOUSEWIFE: “Like Kojak?”
    MARY BETH: “Yeah. Sort of.”


    It’s a small scene, but all geared to be a step in the right direction in Mary Beth feeling proud of her work. In a nice continuity touch, Mary Beth is sporting a very mid-eighties perm when Chris pays a visit:

    MARY BETH: “They got me fixed up like a poodle. Whaddaya think?” [silence] “Harvey hates it too. I hate it. I’m going to wash it out.”

    On top of her perm, Mary Beth gives Chris a run down of the improvements she’s made to fix up the apartment (which, to the credit of the set dressers does look like it’s had a modest makeover). Chris feels that Mary Beth is hiding, making excuses to stay home out of fear that people will treat her differently at work. The conversation becomes less polite and more real with every line. Again, we’re given a nice look at the women’s present by discussing their past:

    CHRIS: “Let me tell you something, Mary Beth. When they first told me I was gonna be partnered with a woman I was not too thrilled. Frankly, I told my father I didn’t think you could cut it. Then after he met you, you know what he said? He said ‘There’s a woman who knows people. Christine, you can’t go out on the streets without having a partner who knows people.’ Next to me, I think you’re the best cop in action I’ve ever seen. Sometimes maybe better. Because you keep your head. When it’s screwed on straight. And I think you’re damned selfish to throw away everything we’ve got going for us.”

    She walks away in disgust, leaving Mary Beth tearful. The scene feels more brutal because of the aesthetics. Mary Beth has become a housewife with a perm and an interest in cookbooks. It’s like they now occupy two different worlds. And Mary Beth has no choice but to recognise that.

    They next encounter each other at the precinct where Mary Beth is getting a form signed (the perm has been washed out). Things are frosty to begin with, but when Chris learns Isbecki and Petrie are off on what she considers her collar, Mary Beth is immediately smoothing things over with Samuels. So when Chris leaves to head them off, she asks Mary Beth to go with her and the collar is made.

    CHRIS: “Thanks for your help.”
    MARY BETH: “Sure. It was a neat little collar.”
    CHRIS: “Yeah. Listen, um... you wanna have lunch one day next week?”
    MARY BETH: “Every day. Unless of course you got other plans.”
    CHRIS: “Every day?”
    MARY BETH: “Yeah. They still give us an hour for lunch, right?”


    Once again, the neat little ending avoids feeling like a cliche, helped by the writing, the performances and the fact that the viewer has been willing this to happen for the entire episode, knowing that these two belong working together. We know it’s going to happen, otherwise there won’t be a show next week. But it’s still a relief when onscreen events catch up to allow the audience some wish fulfilment.
     
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  15. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    TWO GRAND

    Another fine example of tapping into the history of the show. This particular episode is a callback - perhaps even a sequel - to Season Two’s The Grandest Jewel Thief Of Them All.

    The episode starts with a routine investigation into a hotel robbery and a routine subplot where Chris gets a present from an admirer. But when the whole squad are implicated in the robbery and the present sent to Chris is part of a heist, Chris deduces that Albert Grand is behind it all.

    Ferdinand Mayne is back as Grand and he and Gless create the same magic energy, bouncing off each other as the two engage in another battle of wills. Grand reappears in person while Chris is on a first date with a guy who gets dragged all over town.

    The episode covers some familiar ground to those who saw the first Grand episode, such as the scene where Chris finds he’s been in her apartment. This feels quite deliberate. A way to show that Grand is as wily and as brazen as before; to help us get the feeling that Chris has in understanding his modus operandi; and to help this feel like a true sequel. The score uses the same Bach motifs. Even Mary Beth’s cloche hat is back.

    Chris tracking him down to his hotel after working out his plot only to discover that he’s dying and wanted a last bit of fun feels quite fitting. Grand has also bought her a bracelet after she earlier refused his stolen gifts. There’s a really lovely freeze-frame where the two hold hands, Grand looking frail under a blanket on his chaise and Chris with undisguised admiration for a man with such class.

    The original Grand story is one of the more memorable Chris episodes where we got to see her obsession, intellect and humour. Two Grand serves as a similar showcase and while it may not have been essential to do this sequel, it does serve to keep the themes of that episode alive and also underlines what an important episode it was in developing the character as portrayed by Gless. Everyone involved slipped right back into place to deliver an episode that’s truthful to what was great about the original and adds some new layers.

    Also of note is that there aren’t many things that are important to continuity here, apart from the references to the Season Two Grand episode. The two could air back-to-back without being at all jarring. Even LaGuardia is floating about in this episode.

    Isbecki is absent during the episode, on holiday with Bonbon, which develops into a far less interesting mystery when Bonbon shows up looking for him. Petrie finds out he’s in hospital and eventually learns (over the phone) that Victor has haemorrhoids. The whole running thread feels like a strangely useless piece of padding that doesn’t bring anything to the show.

    But when the rest of the episode is so good, I can forgive that. I really enjoyed the first Grand episode, and the simple fact is I'm glad to revisit it.
     
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  16. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    CON GAMES

    Another callback episode. This is a doubler.

    I was surprised to hear the “Dory” version of the theme play and wondered if perhaps Ed Winter would be in the titles. But sure enough - there was Dory.

    The episode opens with a briefing on this week’s procedural, a scam to get money out of people. Their perp is said to be disguised in purdah, and there’s a rather wacky moment where the officer briefing the team imitates an Arabic woman for a moment (“America. What a wonderful country”). Which sounds offensive but is actually rather silly and funny.

    Chris is seen in a series of awful polyester, frilly, puffy blouses and bows as part of her cover. It’s Mary Beth that pulls in a con artist. Not THE con artist, but her people skills come in handy.

    There’s a nice running thread where the women agree not to snipe at each other and keep calling each other out whenever a snarky line comes up.

    Chris’s hearing against Jack Hennessey from Rules Of The Game is upcoming, and she’s getting some pressure to drop the suit against him for the good of the department. Hennessey himself is also pressuring her, visiting her apartment unannounced (Chris is in her dressing gown, adding to her vulnerability). He starts off being friendly but the mask is quickly peeled away:

    “You’re just another dumb bitch, Cagney. Ya know that? I’m not just going to beat you in court, I’m gonna crucify ya.”

    No other witnesses have come forward, so Chris takes it upon herself to speak to Paula Eastman (cute little Mel Mayron from thirtysomething), a uniformed officer who worked with Hennessey. Chris is filled with hope when Paula admits Jack pulled the same stunt on her, only to have the hope removed when she learns Paula took Jack up on his offer and got a promotion as a result. The scene played out so well I took the turns right along with her. There’s a moment during the conversation where Paula mentioned being a recovering alcoholic which I was convinced was going to tie into Dory’s appearance, but it seemed to be just a throwaway comment.

    Dory appeared in just one scene. It’s a good one though. He and Chris have a civilised lunch to discuss the hearing (he’s been called as part of it). It seems like it’s going in the direction of a reconciliation, and I was starting to feel almost as good about the idea as Chris. Then Dory said he was back with his wife. Gless and Primus both play the scene really well.

    In court, Chris is asked a series of questions designed to undermine her case :

    “Do you colour your hair to make yourself more alluring”

    “How many men have you been to bed with this year? Was it more than a platoon and less than a battalion?”


    Some of her responses are right in character:

    EXAMINER: “Isn’t the truth of the matter that you usually wear tight jeans and snug sweaters [to work]?”
    CHRIS: “I usually wear a nun’s habit.”


    EXAMINER: “Have you ever had a venereal disease?”
    CHRIS: “No. Did you?”


    Isbecki is called in and tries to help Chris out but makes things worse. Mary Beth also takes the stand and does what she can to help. It’s good to see a courtroom scenario. When done well I enjoy them, and this show always does them well.

    Hennessey takes the stand and tells a very different story to the one we saw:

    HENNESSEY: “We had a drink and then she made the joke about not having been turned on by her partner before, and I laughed because I knew her partner was a woman. Then she asked me if I felt the same way. And then she asked me if I wanted to go to bed with her....”

    HENNESSEY: “She said we could do a lot of good for each other. She could take care of my... libido and I could take care of her career. She wanted assignment to major cases for going to bed with me. Of course, that was instant turn off.”
    CHRIS: “You bastard. You filthy, lying bastard.”


    Outbursts in court. I love them - especially when they’re warranted!

    Mary Beth takes Chris out for a drink to console her. Chris is naturally furious:

    CHRIS: “I put my career on the line and I came off looking like I needed penicillin. You know those rape victims I talk to. I give them that nice speech about how they should go to court. They should testify for the good of all women, and so they could stop feeling like a victim. I should call up every one of those women and apologise.”

    The last two scenes are a fine example of the writing allowing the viewer to read between the lines, relying on our understanding of how TV shows are typically structured to be able to go against it and keep the “obvious” stuff hidden. First Chris goes to visit Paula. We don’t know what she said, other than she was very determined and Paula was faltering.

    Then we cut to the courtroom the next morning. Paula shows up at the last minute and Hennessey loses his grin as the women walk towards the courtroom. We don’t know what happens next. Not for sure. But we’re allowed to put the evidence together and write our own script. It’s a very intelligent way of writing, and I admire this show for holding back where most wouldn’t.
     
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  17. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    VIOLATION

    “An old man gets mugged on the street. He’s not lookin’ for trouble. A lady with five kids is shot to death for her paycheque. She’s not lookin’ for trouble. But this Dwayne Patterson: he left home with the intention of purchasing alcohol. Then he showed false ID. Then he shoplifted. Then he offered illegal identification again when he was arrested and booked. In other words, Dwayne Patterson looked for trouble. And he found it.”

    The sixteen year old young man at the heart of DI Knelman’s commentary is played by twenty year old Doug Savant. I love the roles this guy chooses to do. He seems really selective with the parts he takes on. Looking at his earliest career, each character was so fundamentally different to the previous one. One particularly intense early role (Masquerade from 1988) let me know I shouldn’t underestimate or feel too safe with him. And that stayed with me even when watching him as terminally nice Matt on Melrose Place. I get the impression that he chooses his roles carefully for the challenge. Even Matt had the potential to break ground, had the network supported it, and let’s not forget Savant’s personal choice not to discuss his own (hetero)sexuality while playing the role.

    His role here brings its own challenges. Here he’s playing a wholesome, actualised sixteen year old who makes a fleeting error of judgement and steals a bottle of alcohol because his fake ID is refused. Refusing to give his real name, he’s mistaken for an adult and ends up on Rikers Island.

    So the episode starts off as a missing person case as Chris and Mary Beth speak to Dwayne’s parents and trace his steps until they work out he’s been put onto Rikers in error. This is just the start of a series of observations on the flaws of the penal system that the episode makes very convincingly.

    Then we get to Savant’s first scene, when he is brought to the women in an interview room at Rikers . He looks older than sixteen. But that’s the point. After all, that’s how he got here. But moments into the scene I’m completely convinced of his youth by how he carries himself and how he speaks. Dwayne has a black eye, a split lip and some bruises. But even without accounting for these there’s an intense vulnerability to him in this scene. He is clearly very shocked by his experiences, and is quite twitchy, shaken and tearful, refusing to make eye contact, he starts to talk about a fight:

    MARY BETH: “Right, you got in a fight. With how many?”
    DWAYNE: “Couple of guys. The others just watched like it was some kind of show.”
    CHRIS: “You didn’t get in a fight at all, did you Dwayne?”
    DWAYNE: “Nobody ever messed with me before.”
    MARY BETH: “Messed with you. How did they mess with you?”
    DWAYNE: “How do you think?”
    CHRIS: “You were raped, weren’t you?”


    Interviewing the others who were in the cell - most of them lifers with nothing to lose - the women are met with silence. The powers that be admit that sexual assaults happen every day but there’s nothing they can do about it.

    It’s an understatement to say that Dwayne’s father is less than happy about the situation. Here’s an interesting character too. We don’t learn much about him or his relationship with Dwayne. We know he was worried sick when Dwayne was missing. We know that Dwayne appeared to have a good home life. But also that he was afraid to call home when he ended up in gaol (he used his one phone call trying to contact a friend who was at the same dance he was meant to attend himself). Then Dwayne’s parents sue the department for $7 million and his motives aren’t clear. He has a conversation in which he uses a homophobic epithet which I’ll put in context here, in a spoiler for anyone who would prefer not to see it:

    Register or to view Spoiler content!

    Whether it’s misdirected anger or out-and-out homophobia is debatable, and Patterson’s motives for his choice or words - and for suing the city - remain unclear. But considering Dwayne’s initial concern that his father would say Dwayne should have done something to stop the rape, I’d say Dwayne’s home life is less perfect that it seemed at first.

    Patterson’s comments are also not the first time in the episode that prisoners are likened to animals. The prison governor tells the women he’s running a zoo. There’s a subtle question - debated between Chris and Mary Beth - of whether prisoners are less than human.

    The suggestion that prisoners’ loss of human rights is expected or even acceptable to some comes across strongly. Comments are peppered throughout the episode, including the quote by Knelman at the top of this post. There’s a subtle - almost invisible - question being asked here. A variation on the “were they asking for it” question that can be asked by the less enlightened following a sexual assault.

    With this in mind, the show does a sensitive job of conveying the psychology around a trauma like this, both for the target and the people around them. It’s also interesting to see the responses of the males in the show to this. Isbecki makes an inappropriate joke. Harv uses a euphemism rather than the word “rape” when describing Dwayne’s ordeal until Mary Beth puts him right.

    There’s insight, too, into the factions that happen in prison, particularly some unpleasantly frank depictions of casual racism. Wanting to make a deal to reduce his double life sentence, one of the men who was present at the rape implicates three men he describes as having “deep suntans”.

    “Eddie Stutz don’t owe no soul brothers no favours.”

    This action is even more disturbing when Chris and Mary Beth pressure someone who else who was present and discover it was Stutz himself who instigated the rape. Stutz sees no reason to hide it, leaning happily back on his chair:

    STUTZ: “Next time you see Dwayne, ask him if he had a good time.”
    CHRIS: “You’re revolting, Eddie, but you probably already know that.”
    STUTZ: “Don’t it make you wanna beat on my mean old chest with your little fists. It’s hard to know what to do with a man like me, isn’t it. I mean, here I am ready to face two consecutive life sentences. So - why don’t you just tack this one on.”
    CHRIS: “Why’d you try to lay it off on the black prisoners?”
    STUTZ: “I just don’t like ‘em."
    CHRIS: “Oh. Well, I suggest that you broaden your views before you get to Attica.”
    STUTZ laughs: “It’s no big thing. Not as long as you keep sendin’ me those nice, young boys. Course, that wouldn’t be my number one choice.”

    He strokes Chris’s arm. She kicks the chair out from under Stutz
    MARY BETH [to the guard] “You got slippery floors in here. You oughta do somethin’ about that.”
    CHRIS: “We’re gonna put the word out about how you tried to set up the blacks, Eddie. You’re gonna be a big hit in Attica. They’re gonna be calling you the queen of soul.”


    Gregory Sierra as Stutz is pleasingly sleazy. I always appreciate when an actor is willing to be this unlikeable to strengthen a story.


    In Season Two's Recreational Use there was a tongue-in-cheek scene where the women were told to hop on a plane to Honolulu. Here, we get that moment where Knelman arranges for the women to go on an assignment in Bermuda to get them off the case. A bribe, in other words. Breaking ground, things work for Chris and Mary Beth when Dwayne’s case is resolved before they're pulled off it. But when Mary Beth’s comments to Patterson are used to strengthen his case and double his asking figure, the department is not happy and they are suddenly needed to speak at a hearing in the time they were meant to be in Bermuda. They're also relegated to street beats, trying to catch a pickpocket:

    CHRIS: “But I bought a bikini.”
    SAMUELS: Bikini? Trade it in for a parka. Weather report still says sleet.”



    There’s a heartening little sub-plot about Edna Kiss, a bag lady, finding a money clip with $500 and handing it in. She is due to collect the money when the time is up, but it’s advertised in the newspaper and the person who lost it arrives to claim it (his name is Dr Livingstone - allowing Coleman to use that line). Petrie deduces that Isbecki planted the story in the paper so he could win a bet, and blackmails Isbecki into buying an old shirt from Edna for an excessive price. Easing the blow for him is that she claims it was worn by Barry Manilow, so this is another chance to see Isbecki the Fanilow - always fun.


    It’s worth noting that, while Dwayne’s story takes up most of the episode, he appears in just one scene. It’s a small role, but one that leaves a lasting impression. There’s no doubting that Doug Savant is a gifted actor who would go on to good things. Also of note here: this is Savant’s first credited acting role. A thoroughly impressive start to an onscreen career.
     
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  18. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    ORGANIZED CRIME

    Well, Mary Beth is either very brave to speak to a known crime lord the way she did or she has a death wish. The procedural storyline was watchable enough. But the godfather figure rather arch and cartoony.

    Like Choices a year earlier, this is another of those finales where the little fragments of peoples hopes and dreams made it special. Like Harv getting his job and getting it taken away on learning it was “influence” that got it for him giving him a lengthy monologue about how he almost took it regardless. It’s a beautiful looking rooftop scene with a slow pan in to Harvey and Mary Beth watching him on the glistening grey rooftop, with the warm glow of a doorway in the background. And the conclusion of a running thread that’s gone on for most of the season: the results of the Sergeants’ exam.

    There’s a nice moment for Charlie where he drunkenly admits to Christine that he never made Sergeant because he was afraid. He failed the first time and never re-took it. There’s so much mixed emotion in the scene. Chris covers up her disappointment with support - telling him she’s proud of him. Charlie returns the sentiment, actually saying he’s proud of her. It’s a lovely melancholy little scene.

    Fittingly for his final episode, LaGuardia is the one to bring the Sergeants exam results to the office, going over them with Samuels. It’s quite poignant. Sidney Clute looks and sounds very frail here, but the warmth between he and Al Waxman shines through, softening Samuels’ rough edges:

    SAMUELS: “What about Isbecki?”
    LaGUARDIA: “Not even close. Should’ve studied harder. Least Petrie made it.”
    SAMUELS: “Good.”
    LaGUARDIA: “With his rank it’ll take him two years for a slot to open up.”
    SAMUELS: “That’s too bad. I know he could have used the extra money sooner than that. What about Cagney?”


    Instead of continuing with this scene, it cuts away to this season’s final Ladies’ Room scene. She is convinced she is not going to make Sergeant because of the sexual harassment suit.

    CHRIS: “Mary Beth, they’re not going to pass me to Sergeant.”
    MARY BETH: “You’re not serious. Why? Because of Isbecki’s mother’s dream?”
    CHRIS: “No. Because of Knelman. And because I pressed those harassment charges.”
    MARY BETH: “He’s one man, Christine.”
    CHRIS: “Yah. He’s one Deputy Inspector, Mary Beth. He asked me not... hell, he begged me not to do it. But I did it. And I’ll tell you something: I think it’s damn unfair. Because I’ve worked hard. And I earned it. And I deserve it. And I iced that exam.”
    MARY BETH: “Yeah. I bet you were terrific on the tape, too.”
    CHRIS: “Damn straight!”


    Chris is called out of the Ladies’ Room into the office, and there’s another of those magically wild Tyne Daly scenes as Mary Beth walks with Chris, chatting at her the whole way about her Geography test in school. She’s stopped short by everyone applauding. We get a nice group shot of the whole ensemble, minus Chris (a nice, warm little coda for LaGuardia) and a freeze frame of a delighted Christine. It’s another defining moment in her life and career that feels fitting for the end to the strongest season yet.

    As with Choices, the strength here is the little fragments of character that are liberally peppered through some very ordinary moments. At a time where the cliffhangers on night-time TV were absolutely huge, I so enjoy the choice made to go small for the final episode of the year. It's like decompression time, mixed with a chance to hang out with some friends.
     
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  19. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Season Five - Even More Success

    [​IMG]



    ON THE STREET

    Messing with perfection, Bill Conti's theme has been re-recorded again. This version is more subtle than the variant used in Season Three's Dory episodes. The new titles are the same length as the "Dory" version - with the same added scenes of the women giving up the chase and Chris jogging and buying hot dogs, but the music is more or less a straight cover of the "standard" version from Seasons Two and Three. It doesn't sound quite as good to my ears, but then the original Conti version was perfect.

    The extended length allows Harvey Atkin to be added. In honour of this momentous occasion the episode opens with a montage of Coleman creating a chart which clues us in to Lacey's pregnancy. I recall this was done to accommodate Daly's real-life pregnancy, and wondered at what point in the season it would be introduced, and we're right in there.

    The fact that time has passed also highlights that the show is moving pretty much in real time. This episode clearly takes place some time after Organized Crime (oh - how that "z" pains me). Maybe not five or six months later, but we're certainly not moving in prime time soap time where we pick up the scene a few moments later.

    The pregnancy itself adds a new layer to the show. There's an air of empowerment to it, as it hasn't changed the way Lacey behaves, but at the same time - because it hasn't changed things - there's an almost unspoken added vulnerability to her scenes too. I find myself being very conscious of her pregnancy whenever she's running round doing cop things. There's a scene, for instance, where a young woman in a hospital bed is kicking off: trying to remove her IV and get up. Lacey is trying to stop her and Chris instinctively pushes Mary Beth aside to tackle her herself. She doesn't specify it's to get Mary Beth out of harm's way, but it reinforced to me that perhaps Chris and I are on the same page in being aware of it.

    The young woman, Stephanie, is played by Kristy Swanson. The storyline of a fifteen year old girl choosing to continue her sex work because it annoys her mother sets this apart from the standard sex work scenario. Chris's connection to her was reminiscent of Season Two's Hopes And Dreams where she tried to work with another young woman with attitude. It brings out some interesting colours in Cagney's character. For all her criticism of Mary Beth and her "social work", it feels like Chris has a flair for it too.

    Stephanie's father is a return visit for Stanley Kamel who previously appeared in Season Two's A Cry For Help as an intensely edgy cop. Here he's more subdued but no less effective as the man who thinks the solution to his daughter's lifestyle is to commit her to an institution.

    This is Stephen Macht's first episode as David Keeler. It's good to get to his arrival. I remember him as a recurring character, but couldn't remember details other than he was a love interest for Chris. It was a nice touch that he'd lied to Chris - telling her he was a dentist - because he knew she wouldn't go out with him if he said he was an ACLU lawyer. The reveal was fun, with Chris nabbing a woman who picked his pocket and David stepping in to defend the thief because Chris hadn't followed due process.

    This introduces other running theme in this episode is that of police brutality and corruption. Once again, Chris and Mary Beth view things differently, with Mary Beth being the idealist and Chris more concerned with efficacy. There's a telling scene where they are both desperate to detain a pimp who they know - but can't prove - has murdered someone and attempted to kill another. Not having a good reason to keep him, Chris blatantly kicks in his tail light. When he responds by grabbing her collar she lands one on him, leaving Mary Beth unhappy about the dirty collar.

    As always, the differences between the two women are extremely watchable. But this time round there's a new element added. During one of their disagreements, Chris actually pulls rank on Mary Beth. Which considering she was only promoted in the previous episode is a little troubling.
     
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  20. Mel O'Drama

    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    ORDINARY HERO

    Reza Badiyi, director of this episode, has been absent from the series since High Steel back in early Season Two (some three years earlier). Before that he had directed two thirds of Season One's episodes. One of those episodes was Beyond The Golden Door, notable for its sympathetic treatment of illegal immigration. Ordinary Hero has a very similar theme and actually makes some very similar stops to that Season One episode.

    Ordinary Hero would go on to win the Humanitas and Prizes for writer Robert Eisele, and deservedly so. All the same, it's interesting to consider the difference series success can make to the reception of an episode. During that first struggling year, Beyond The Golden Door went pretty much under the radar, though it was no less brave in its approach.

    Even a piece of dialogue was previously used in an earlier episode (and I have a feeling it was Golden Door) when Chris voices a negative view of immigrants and Mary Beth reminds her that the same viewpoint was held about people named "Cagney" coming into the country a hundred years earlier.

    Elizabeth Peña was a familiar face to me. Partly because she looks so much like P.K. Kelly from Knots Landing. But I could remember watching her in something a few weeks ago and thinking the same thing. I'd assumed she was in an earlier C&L episode, but it turns out I'd seen her in *batteries not included. She and Tony Acierto made a very sympathetic couple.

    Watching the immigration raid on the family's home, with them hiding in a recess above a wardrobe, looking terrified in the light of Chris's torch, I couldn't help drawing parallels to similar raids that would have taken place on Jewish households in Nazi Germany. Whether that was intentional or not, I'm not sure. But it certainly made me think.

    While watching, I couldn't help but be struck by how topical the themes in this episode are. With the upcoming election, the terrifying prospect of America becoming a fortress of xenophobic solitude is now a very real possibility, while Brexit has polarised Europe into pockets of "them" and "us", with the full devastation still to come. I like to think that if Cagney & Lacey were being made today, they'd still be thoughtfully challenging that line of thinking with episodes like this one.
     
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