REVIEW: Cagney & Lacey – The classic crime procedural that didn’t need to be rebooted

This post is on TCA, DC event, today morning – @StephIWebre we’re good.

Corbin Bernsen, Catherine Dent, and Margot Bingham will also be there. I expect Deadline will be there with a binder full of bits and pieces…

There’s a bit of a rebuilding job underway at USA.

The brand had been rebooting some of its defunct properties while building the DC brand – things like Royal Pains which executive producer Bill Haber had brought in over at Fox (and many have dubbed “phantom procedurals”) and new favorite crime drama A Place to Call Home.

And they went and picked up another new show, Cagney & Lacey, an addition to their group of crime procedural. And thought we “never had one before” in Lacey’s legendary star, Sharon Gless, it’s being part of another “before.”

But just as we’re moving into a different wave of shows – in the vein of ABC’s The Catch and Gone – there’s another “before” in comparison: NBC’s Homicide.

It starred Michael Chiklis as Det Fin DePaola, and Lorraine Bracco as Det Lt Claudia Richter.

That was 2001, a little under a decade removed from the glory days of I’ll Fly Away and The West Wing, and with just the beginning of the DVR age and the hyper busy lives of programming executives.

And like A Place to Call Home and Royal Pains, Homicide was a nod to the relaunch of USA. It also launched the cinematic careers of people like Matthew Lillard (who had previously starred in the less successful Flicka) and Courteney Cox, who had a big part in the pilot but didn’t appear in the show for the first few seasons.

Homicide aired for three seasons, with only six episodes in Season 1, and seven in Season 2, and made Emmy first time winners of Christopher Meloni and Cole Hauser. And a big winner for USA as they nabbed eight.

Most of you were probably under age 25 when this show aired. My kids, who are a few years older than me, weren’t even born yet.

But you may know a few things about the stars in the cast. Bracco was an Oscar winner for Goodfellas and Showtime’s Homeland and 24 were Oscar nominated films. A Place to Call Home stars Dermot Mulroney and Janet Montgomery were known in Hollywood before the show but were on the edge of becoming household names. Courteney Cox was on a show that “saved” half of her monogram the same year she won the Oscar. Others, like Brendan Fraser and Val Kilmer, were not.

I’m going to be honest, I never was a big fan of Homicide, even early on in its run, but, so many of you can pretty much point me to the reason. In a couple of cases, they got it wrong.

There’s a bit of internal disconnect in that there was the ever present “two faces of the same character” trope that continued on in action throughout the show’s run with minor characters like T.R. Knight, Christopher Meloni and Brian Geraghty.

Still, it had great producing talent. Multiple stars who turned into three and four cast members. All the help from Oscar winners and Emmy winners. A hook of a show. A big social media following. A smaller social media following.

The show reached out to Hispanic viewers on a social level and landed a swaggering Pedro Almodóvar cameo, an on again, off again actor/producer even.

The fact that the show was a part of a huge discussion at the time about diversity had a lot to do with it.

All right. I’m pushing for maybe a peak hour for some “more modern” shows this summer. I’m having a great time though and I’m looking forward to what else you got.

So get the paper. Make your cup runneth over.

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