This episode guide is compiled in order of airdate. Besides a standard synopsis, the extras include a "critique", and when applicable, the "collar", anytime C&L are "undercover", "hazard pay", for anytime C&L are injured, and "doesn't add up" for things that get contradicted in later/previous episodes. "Bad cop" is for all the times when they aren't the crime busting super cops we normally see.
Just 6 episodes after the pilot. While the season is a little rocky, even without Sharon Gless as Cagney, this is a very watchable season.
Pilot Movie Oct 8, 1981 Uniformed police officers Mary Beth Lacey and Christine Cagney make Detective after a heroin bust. Their new Sergeant and fellow detectives are convinced they can only work undercover as prostitutes but Cagney is determined to crack a case that has gone cold involving the homicide of a diamond merchant. Critique: Great concept of course, but rough. This show, like most duo shows is great because of the interaction and chemistry of the two leads. This pilot has Cagney working solo dragging Lacey along only on occasion. I get that is the point of the resolution but the rest of season one is actually much better, this is one of the weaker pilots I have seen for such a successful show. Loretta Swit, apart from being too tan to be a NY cop has zero chemistry with Tyne Daly. C- Doesn’t add up (things that get contradicted in later episodes): Colman is single, Cagney shoots/kills suspect Collars: Burglary, Narcotics, Homicide Hazard Pay: Lacey punched by pimp Undercover: Hookers
Checkout the blog to hear more gushing about this cut.
Girly Sidebar: Mary Beth can really rock that uniform. Women never look good in those but she really pulls it off. It’s a little sad to see her go to plain clothes. The pixie cut actually begins in season 1.
1x1 Bang, Bang, You're Dead (aka You Call This Plain Clothes?) Mar 25, 1982 Still stuck undercover as prostitutes on John detail, Cagney convinces a drug dealer to turn informant, then catches a priest who murders catholic prostitutes. Critique: Lacy where are you? Meg Foster as Cagney cannot carry episodes. Not only is this the same bit from the pilot that didn’t work they even repeat the same line of Lacey saying she would have been responsible if Cagney died. They haven’t figured out how to successfully do rogue Cagney. Worst of all the music is, truly awful. It’s straight out of the sixties, a cross between Batman and Family Affair, it even has the horn section blasts for every punch, I expect “Kapow” to appear on screen. C+ Collars: Homicide Hazard Pay: Cagney fights with knife wielding murderer. Undercover: Hookers Doesn’t add up: The dealer is later the D.A. That’s not Lacey’s husband or Ispecki. Excellent call on recasting both roles, the original Victor was creepy, but Martin Cove has an innocent stupidity that renders him harmless. Pilot Harvey looked like a professor not someone who worked construction and he was a real dick, John Karlan never comes off that way no matter what he yells.
1x2 Pop Used to Work Chinatown April 1, 1982 Cagney and Lacey are finally assigned to a real case as all the detectives search for bank robbery suspects in Chinatown.
Critique: Thank God for Charlie Cagney or I would have fallen asleep. C Collars: Bank Robery Undercover: B Girls Hazard Pay: Lacey shoots/kills suspect
1x3Beyond the Golden Door April 4, 1982 An illegal immigrant’s sister is missing after her own immigration attempt, Lacey goes undercover to catch the coyotes responsible. Harvey gets a pigeon off a roof (only slightly less lame than it sounds).
Critique: This starts the Lacey is great with people character trait and it couldn’t come soon enough. More Lacey equals better episodes. B- Undercover: Lacey as a garment district worker, Cagney as a waitress Hazard Pay: Lacey gets beat up. Doesn’t add up: Cagney’s mother has been dead 3 years Collar: Homicide (actually they turn this over to Immigration to avoid deportation of witnesses)
1x4 Street Scene April 15, 1982 A Hispanic gang member is murdered by an old man who claims self defense.
Critique: The show is starting to get it’s rhythm, but this one is slow. C Collar: I think this was justifiable homicide so nothing unless the gang members get attempted murder charges. Doesn’t add up: Cagney has a car.
1x5 Suffer the Children April 22, 1982 Lacey rescues a girl from falling off a high rise building but when they return her to her family they discover her sister is missing. Meanwhile a purse snatcher is on the loose.
Critique: Now we are getting somewhere, this is the successful formula for the run of the show, crimes that are about the victims ( a little girl as opposed to a bank), Lacey does her sensitive stuff, Cagney will say there is nothing there and Lacey will prove her wrong all while they bond over somewhat mundane home life stuff. B+ Collar: Homicide, Purse Snatcher
1x6 Better Than Equal April 29, 1982 An anti-feminist crusader is in town doing public engagements, Cagney and Lacey are assigned as her protection team when she receives harassing and then threatening phone calls.
Critique: This lady reminds me of a Fox news pundit. The story is OK but it’s really ruined for me by, again, the music. A psycho-like screech every time the stalker is on the phone, way too much, maybe it just wasn’t coming off creepy enough and it was added to help, it didn’t. It’s really comical after awhile. We get it, Mary Beth smokes, we don’t need it in every scene to get the payoff. C+ Collar: Harassment? Bad Cop: Yelling at the suspect from across the room to give him a running start to get away, not very stealthy ladies. Girly Sidebar: Very few women can pull off short hair, Tyne Daly can. That little Pixie cut it so cute!
Change is good, and there are a few to start this season. Not just a new Cagney but a new set and new music, thank God! A nice roomy station great for wide shots with Samuels' rich wood framed office anchoring it, now there are multiple spots for intimate convos, like a good set should, it becomes a character itself. The cheesy open and bump music are gone with the iconic theme song in place and a whole new opening sequence. Highlights include the introduction of Dory and Albert Grand. 22 Episodes
A long skirt and a 4 inch heel seems inappropriate for perp stalking. This photo is taken right outside the Lacy Street studios where much of the show was shot.
2x1Witness to An Incident October 25, 1982 Neighborhood watch turns vigilante resulting in an officer shooting a civilian. Cagney and Lacey have conflicting stories on what happened.
Critique: Original story, nice angle of the differing opinions, and one of the few times Mary Beth is wrong. This new Cagney just might work out. A- Collar: Homicide Doesn’t add up: Cagney claims she never shot anyone. I guess technically Cagney did shoot the heroin cutting guy and killed the nazi jewel thief in the pilot, it just didn’t look like her. Bad Cop: Cagney picks up the gun with a bag then uses her hand to put it in the evidence bag. 2x2 One of our Own November 1, 1982 A cop is shot from the 14th and there is panic that a cop killer is on the loose.
Critique: Gless isn’t quite there yet but the script isn’t helping, trying to play drama that just isn’t there feels over done. C+ Collar: Homicide Bad Cop: No "knock and announce" something they didn't do until season 3 when Isbecki points out he hasn't done it (this is why police consultants are a good idea of cop shows)
A look into the future
2x3 Beauty Burglars November 8, 1982 Beauty salons are being robbed by police impersonators. One of the victims latches onto Cagney. Critique: This one is pretty good but I never quite got the victim latching onto Cagney thing. Many of the shots from the open come from this episode and it has one of my favorite lines of the series when Lacey tells Cagney she is in social work. B- Undercover: Cagney as a rich jewelry customer looks just like Sharon Gless decades later. Hazard Pay: Cagney jumped by knife wielding thieves. Collar: Narcotics, Robbery, Burglary
Don't judge the Shrine by this whole blog post on hair. Just enjoy it.
2x4 High Steel November 15, 1982 A construction worker falls to his death, is it murder?! Yeah it’s murder, over faulty construction, so Harvey is called in to help the investigation. Critique: Uh boy, hmmm.. I guess it’s going along fine until the end when Lacey is out on a ledge and Harvey punches her and some weird cry laughing goes on. Wait, he punched her?! They couldn’t just wait for help, it’s not like she was letting go. Again more stretching to find drama where it’s either not written well, or just not there. The cute B story Cagney jogging boosts this one out of D range. C- Hazard Pay: Lacey nearly falls off a building, husband punches her. Collar: Homicide Bad Cop: No "knock and announce" 2x5 Hotline November 22, 1982 The squad investigates a series of homicides of women working for an erotic hotline. Critique: Good episode, Gless and Daly have found their rhythm as a duo. B+ Collar: Homicide This episode is the first time we see the rear/side(?) entrance to the precinct. Girly Sidebar: Do you see the feathered hair on Cagney? It goes all the way to the back of her head, that is some early eighties hair awesomeness.
2x6 Internal Affairs November 28,1982 Cagney and Lacey investigate the rest of the squad room when a leak in their investigation is suspected by Internal Affairs.
Critique: This is one of the best episodes of the entire series. It’s a great concept, very little time is spent on the actual case rather it centers around the characters, getting to see tiny glimpses of lives outside the squad room and realizing how little they all really know about each other, even Cagney about her own father. Gless has Cagney really dialed in for the first time, but even if it didn’t have that B story, this episode would prove you don’t need emotional drama for a great episode. A+ Collar: Transporting stolen goods Doesn’t add up: Lacey says she’s known the Lt. for 10 years. If they had worked at the 14th as officers they wouldn’t have needed to be introduced in the pilot, they would have known and worked with everyone before. Girly Sidebar: “Laguardia’s got a girlfriend!” then Mary Beth saying “I think I’m gonna cry.” Such a funny girlie moment. This episode even had laughs, I love it! This marks the first time we see the women’s restroom which later becomes the setting of so many great scenes.
2x7 Mr. Lonelyhearts December 6, 1982 An old man is looking for his young bride. Cagney and Lacey must find this con artist who’s duped many “husbands”.
Critique: It’s OK, it’s one where the 'A' story about the con artist is much less interesting than the 'B' story with C&L bonding over Cagney's dating life. B- Collar: Fraud
2x8 Conduct Unbecoming December 13, 1982 A photo spread in a gay magazine by an officer at the 14th spreads animosity among the men while Cagney & Lacey use him undercover for a major drug bust. Critique: I’d imagine this was a pretty racy topic back in the day, it would probably cause a stir even in today’s precincts.B C & L get official written reprimands. Collar: Narcotics Dealing 2x9 I’ll Be Home For Christmas December 20, 1982 When a prisoner is accidentally released on Christmas Eve the Lieutenant makes everyone stay until he’s found, it’s the Christmas episode so the perp is, of course, dressed as Santa Claus. Critique: This is probably the most formulaic episode this show does, it still remains entertaining. Also notes the first episode with Dory. B Collar: Larceny
2x10 Recreational Use December 27, 1982 A man is using murder to run out residents of his properties he wants to convert to condos. Cagney and Lacey work the case with Cagney’s new boyfriend, Dory, who uses cocaine on the job.
Critique: Excellent on all counts, finally the drama on the page is a match for the actor output, any friction between the 2 leads is always gold, of course it’s Cagney centric but Lacey gets great stuff too. A+ Collar: Homicide
2x11 Hopes and Dreams January 10, 1983 A burglary ring is robbing people during funerals for relatives. Cagney is determined to retrieve the bike of a victims who is confined to a wheelchair.
Critique: Tough Cagney who is actually a softie is a go-to storyline for the writers. This robbery seems very easy to solve, the kid is right. B- Undercover: Lacey as a mourner, Cagney as the neighbor Collar: Burglary
2x12 The Grandest Jewel Thief of Them All January 17, 1983 A master thief returns to New York and Cagney is obsessed with stopping his next heist.
Critique: What a good episode, great "villians" make great shows, whenever a show takes the time to flesh out good criminals the episode is always better because of it. Some nice humor too, aside from the light bulb jokes. A Collar: Burglary (the guy robbing the fence) Hazard Pay: Cagney getting her gun knocked away and then flipped. Bad Cop: No backup Cagney blew her possible one chance at really catching this guy by getting her gun knocked away and then flipped.
2x13 Affirmative Action January 24, 1983 A new detective is assigned to the 14th. Cagney and Lacey become dubious of her abilities as she assists on their case.
Critique: Perhaps if Detective Turner was a little less obnoxious she would have been a more sympathetic character making this an easier episode to watch. C Collar: Homicide, Kidnapping
2x14 Open and Shut Case January 31, 1983 A rape victim from their days in uniform seeks help when her rapists are retried. Lacey has her own problems in court when she believes the defendant is not guilty.
Critique: Powerful stuff, the show only handles rape a few times, this is a great angle on what victims go through after the crime, I doubt any other show had highlighted this. Kudos to the writer, Terry Louise Fisher, this would have been very tough to structure. A Collar: Possession of a switch blade
2x15 Jane Doe #37 February 14, 1983 A homeless woman is murdered, as Cagney investigates obvious similarities between her and the victim increases her drive to solve the case.
Critique: The recruiter B story seems an awkward counterpoint to an otherwise excellent story. Lacey acts all the time when she is undercover, why wouldn't she be able to handle a commercial? I love the twist at the end that the woman is actually more like Lacey than Cagney. B+
2x16 Date Rape February 21, 1983 A woman seems an unlikely rape victim since she picked up her attacker in a bar. Critique: Interesting, very much a story of the times, we would like to think we don't still judge victims, at least not as much. B Collar: Rape, Assault Hazard Pay: Cagney gets punched Girly Sidebar: Cagney's pink tie is so cute and yet, unlike the ugly sweater parade, she only wears it in one episode.
2x17 Burnout March 7, 1983 Lacey in need of a vacation, disappears when the stress finally breaks her. Cagney must investigate drug thefts at a Catholic hospital with Isbecki.
Critique: Seems like this one needed more build up, her break down seemed kind of quick. I understand story wise they needed her to talk to someone at the beach but that chick was so annoying. Daly is excellent. B Collar: Larceny Undercover: Cagney as a nun. Hazard Pay: Lacey goes bonkers, seriously, Samuels should have put her in some counseling.
2x18 Chop Shop March 14, 1983 Cagney blows the tail on a undercover assignment which gets Isbecki kidnapped by car thieves who plan to kill him.
Critique: Cagney really isn't a great cop, but having flawless cops would be boring, they still win in the end and it's a pretty good ride. B Bad Cop: Way to lose that tail Cagney Collar: Conspiracy to murder a police officer, Kidnapping
2x19 Let them Eat Pretzels March 21, 1983 The son of a diplomat hits a pedestrian with his car then evades attempts at capture by staying is his home which is a safe haven due to his diplomatic ties.
Critique: Aside from the awesome Lt. Samuels lecture it's kind of a snooze. C Collar: Misdemeanor would have been felony assault
2x20 The Gang’s All Here March 28, 1983 Cagney, Lacey, Petrie, Samuels, and Laguardia get robed while out celebrating Petrie's promotion.
Critique: Great concept this would have been a much better season ender. B+ Collar: Robbery, Homicide
2x21 A Cry For Help May 2, 1982 While assisting on a case of investor fraud Lacey discovers one of the other detectives is beating his wife.
Critique: Good turn on this one making the cop the abuser but the investor case was a yawn fest. C+ Undercover: Cagney as the daughter of an older investor. Collar: Fraud 2x22 The Informant May 9, 1983 A young informant is used to track down the drug supplier at a high school, but he is only a hindrence when he goes back to his criminal ways. Critique:For some reason this one was a little confusing to me, I couldn't following clearly what the informant was or wasn't doing. C Collar: Drug Trafficking Bad Cop: No "knock and announce"
A March start? Cagney and Lacey where have you been? Cancelled and then born again after great summer ratings and a fan letter writing campaign. Just 7 episodes highlights are Cagney getting shot and having a pregnancy scare.
Season 3 (don't worry that dutch boy hair does not stay for long)
3x1 Matinee March 19, 1984 Women from an affluent Connecticut town venture into the city for "adventure", when one of them is killed while on an escapade our heroes must find the killer.
Critique: A stripper named Marquis de Sade is the prime suspect, really? LaGuardia cracks the case with his soap opera knowledge? 3 women plan this out every week? I can't get my friends to decide on a lunch location so this all seems a little ridiculous to me, but this is eighties television, and it had some entertaining moments, the 'B' story with Sammuels' kid/Christine back story kicks this up a letter grade. C Collar: Homicide First appearance of the final version of the precinct exterior. First appearance of Josie, random stereotype homeless person who they never really do anything with except say hello. This seems like a step backward from last season's Jane Doe episode.
3x2 A Killer's Dozen March 26, 1984 The departments uniformed officers are on strike and the detectives must go back in uniform to fill in. Meanwhile a killer is strangling women and Cagney and Lacey keep investigating even after their case is turned over to an uncooperative task force.
Critique: Everyone looks so good in uniform. B+ Undercover: Cagney as single woman buying birth control, that's not much of a stretch. Doesn't Add Up: Cagney wore that tie everyday for 8 years and forgot how to tie it? Collar: Homicide
3x3 Victimless Crime March 26, 1984 An actor dies while filming a porn movie, an industry so secretive Cagney and Lacey have trouble investigating.
Critique: Just like porn, the more you watch this episode, the more boring it gets. I would have liked to have seen them turn this one around by having Cagney be the prude instead of Mary Beth, it was too obvious, but that would mess up the random french guy hitting on her. If she'd gone through with it I'd have bumped it up a letter grade. C Undercover: No, but it would have helped right? Ha! Collar: Homicide? I'm still unclear what she came to the station for.
3x4 Bounty Hunter March 26, 1984 Cagney is driven crazy by a bounty hunter who is always one step ahead of her apprehending a bail jumper. Critique: Magruder! You have to sing that like Magruber on SNL. This season has a lot of episodes where you forget what the crime is, because who cares. Brian Dennehy is great, he steals the show from C&L totally. B+ Bad Cop: Cagney's horrible steak out location. Bad Parent goes to Lacey, 4th grade and you didn't know your kid couldn't read? You are a horrible parent! Doesn't add up: This later comes up in the harassment hearing but Burdinsky does not give info to Cagney in an exchange for a date like they say he does. He gets a date because he calls her intimidating, they already had the info they came for. Collar: Failure to appear?
3x5 Baby Broker April 30, 1984 Lacey fosters a baby abandoned for being deaf after it is sold by a baby broker.
Critique: Meh. This script could have used more work on the B story, should have dropped the restaurant scene and just had them argue more/ better about it. It didn't really come off that Cagney was upset enough by that guy to proposition Isbecki. It could have been used as a vehicle for how her job interferes with her life, or perceptions of her, or something more interesting.C Undercover: Pregnant Cagney Collar: Felonious Assault, Trafficking for Adoption
3x6 Partners May 7, 1984 Cagney gets shot, Lacey must work with a different partner to find the shooter.
Critique: Such great potential in the inevitable cop show staple of a lead getting shot. While I'm all for real drama on the show this thing begs for some melodrama! When the cop from the 14th got killed in episode 2x2 everyone worked to find the killer, sure Cagney didn't die but it's like squad barley noticed. And why is there a B story?! Her life should be hanging by a thread, we shouldn't have to watch Samuels diet. The Lacey new partner thing is fine but make it part 2 of the 2 parter (yeah it should be enough drama for that). This should be an easy 'A', as is, it's barely a... B- Collar: Homicide, Attempted Homicide Hazard Pay:Cagney shot
3x7 Choices May 14, 1984 Cagney's biological clock is ticking and after a close call she contemplates her future.
Critique: Gless is brilliant, Cagney unhinged is funny and pathetic in a wonderfully done way. It's starting to be a way to grade an episode by how long they are in the "conference room", the longer, the higher the grade. A Girly Sidebar: Hands down the girliest episode ever, pregnancy scares, talk about biological clocks, girl talk about awful men, I pity any husband forced by his spouse to watch this.