Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless reprise their roles of Mary Beth Lacey and Chris Cagney in a two-hour class reunion that starts with warmth, wit and zest, sags in the middle, and returns with a snap. It’s not the welcome ladies who throw up the roadblock; it’s the crime they’re chasing.
Six years after they closed down shop at the NYPD (actually in a building near downtown Los Angeles), the ladies are back. Chris, married to wealthy James Burton (James Naughton), is still a cop, but she’s got a desk job heading the D.A.’s police team; Mary Beth, still married to blue-collar Harvey (John Karlen) , wound up her 20 years and now spends time fretting about her youngest daughter. The two former detectives don’t see each other much anymore; they inhabit different worlds.
Writers Terry Louise Fisher and Steve Brown have worked out a solid motive for their reunion. Chris and Jim toss a retirement party for retiring Lt. Samuels (Al Waxman), so Mary Beth and Harvey show up. A coronary knocks down Harvey at the party and gets the two dames working together: Chris needs an aide on a case involving automatic weapons and possibly a bad cop; Mary Beth needs the dough. The two of them are a team again.
Cagney now works for deputy D.A. Feldberg (David Paymer), in case there are more C&G vidpix, which seems likely. Martin Kove’s back as plainclothes detective Isbecki. Carl Lumbly plays Marcus Petrie. Fred Wayne, Paul Mantee and Pat McNamara put in brief turns, and director James Frawley shows how to milk sentiment out of an old series.
Mary Beth and Chris are strong characters, and their relationship remains a pleasure as they bicker and worry about one another. Their banter’s sharp, their problems are genuine, as are their reactions. Their immediate case could use some of the fire from the old days when they worked out of the tired station house in the 14th district, but they’re a welcome pair to have back chasing the baddies, wherever they’re doing it.
Daly works wonders out of details as she creates the maternal, concerned Mary Beth. Gless has developed Chris, who’s starting to have middle-age problems, into a sophisticate, but Chris still boasts a temper. Both characters have matured, as have the actresses; refreshingly, there’s no attempt to conceal it.
C&L had a rough beginning back in ’82, but after a viewers’ campaign, the series was back and caught on. Now Chris and Mary Beth work out of an elegant office, Chris’ husband’s up for a top job in Washington; Harvey doesn’t want Mary Beth working the streets.
In the marbled women’s room, Chris asks mournfully of Mary Beth, “Don’t you miss the old can in the 14th?” Not if the stories pick up.