In the 23 years since Cagney and Lacey of New York’s 14th precinct closed their casebook, female police partnerships have been a rare sight on US TV. We may have had ball-breaking bosses such as The Shield’s Capt Monica Rawling or capable officers like Law & Order: SVU’s Olivia Benson who work alongside male colleagues, but there’s been little in the way of buddy-buddy women crimesolvers sharing professional and personal problems.
So, it’s kind of a novelty to see the pairing of Rizzoli & Isles (Tuesdays, 10pm, Alibi), a new American import that puts the girls front and centre and gives them the bulk of the action.
Crime-fiction fans may recognise the names Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles because their exploits have already been well documented within the pages of Tess Gerritsen’s bestselling thrillers, the latest of which – The Silent Girl – was released in July. This opening episode takes The Surgeon and The Apprentice (the first two from Gerritsen’s excellent series) as its starting-off point and does a decent job in bringing the essence of her creations to the screen.
Sasha Alexander is the perfect choice to portray medical examiner Maura Isles. She’s the very picture of cool confidence in her designer clothes and towering heels and easily earns her nickname of “the queen of the dead”.
Angie Harmon, who plays tough Boston detective Rizzoli, does of course arrive with a pedigree in police procedurals having put in work on both Law & Order and the Women’s Murder Club, so you’d expect her to be able to deliver the goods. It is however initially a little difficult to credit this model-turned-actress in the role of a smart-talking tomboy and it’s only when Rizzoli’s vulnerabilities and the requisite traumatic past is revealed that she begins to convince.
What matters ultimately though is the rapport between the two leads, something that’s thankfully established with ease and good humour. Serial-killer plotlines are ten-a-penny but you can’t put a price on chemistry and it’s the promising relationship between Jane and Maura that viewers will be keen to explore in future episodes.
Back in August, Alibi netted its biggest-ever audience for the premiere of Body of Proof, a forensics drama starring former Desperate Housewife Dana Delany. It’ll be hoping for similar success with Rizzoli & Isles (a third season of which has recently been commissioned in the States) and on the basis of this opening instalment, it could well have another hit on its hands.
The Horatio Caines and Mac Taylors of this world had better watch out – the ladies are back to lay down the law.
Rizzoli & Isles starts on Tuesday 13 September at 10pm on Alibi