Unlike most cop show on TV, “Cagney and Lacey” did not try and dazzle us with car chases, mind-bending mysteries to be solved or sex kittens posing as police officers (mind the nails!) . It was always about the characters. It was their experiences and reactions to the case and the crime around them, the pressures of the job, the conflicts with each other, that was the focus of the show. And the “Perps”, or criminals, had their story, too. At its best, the crime-of-the-week drew you into an issue, a POV , a social problem, whose solution was dramatically argued through the reactions of the police officers involved – primarily the leads, of course.
Besides the writing, what made this work was that we cared about the leads, and we cared what they thought. We especially cared what happened to them. Outstanding, often stunningly realistic, acting from Sharon Gless (Christine Cagney) and Tyne Daly (Mary Beth Lacey) made us feel like we knew these 2 people, and they made us root for them. Their acting rapport was such a lucky happenstance; they complimented each other’s styles and characters beautifully. You can’t buy that kind of performing chemistry.