They've tackled crimes on television separately, and now, they're teaming up to solve new ones.
Angie Harmon ("Law & Order," "Women's Murder Club") and Sasha Alexander ("NCIS") are "Rizzoli & Isles" in a TNT mystery series debuting Monday, July 12. Inspired by novels by Tess Gerritsen, the show follows the Boston-based cases of police detective Jane Rizzoli (Harmon) and medical examiner Maura Isles (Alexander), whose friendship endures despite their differing backgrounds, temperaments and agendas.
"You know what? I am having the best time," Harmon says. "Sasha Alexander is one of the most wonderful women I've ever met, and I keep thinking, 'I must have done something right somewhere to end up in a situation like this.' It's like going to school every day, or to work every day with your friends. It's just so fun."
From Alexander's standpoint, it was somewhat preordained that she would work with Harmon. Last year, she guest-starred in an episode of the TNT drama "Dark Blue" with Tyrees Allen, who spent the 2007-08 season playing Harmon's police partner on ABC's "Women's Murder Club."
"He and I were laughing and laughing through all the hours on the set," Alexander reports, "and he said, 'My goodness, you remind me of Angie Harmon. Have you ever worked with her? She's really funny.' I had never met her before, but cut to a few months later and there I am, telling her, 'Guess who said I'd be working with you?' "
"Rizzoli & Isles" also offers doses of Rizzoli's family life, with Lorraine Bracco ("The Sopranos") as her mother and Jordan Bridges (son of veteran actor Beau Bridges) as her brother, a fellow cop who's a relative novice to the job.
"For Lorraine Bracco to walk up to me and say, 'You were born to play this role,' I've never been prouder," Harmon reflects.
But Alexander notes the series can also be "very chilling when it comes to the crimes, but the relationships between the characters are very human, which is a great thing. It keeps the show unpredictable, and you can ride the line of doing something edgier while also having these people you want to follow from week to week."
Harmon appreciates "Rizzoli & Isles" having its home at TNT, where such other series as "The Closer" (which starts its sixth season the same night as the "Rizzoli" premiere) and "Saving Grace" have set precedents.
"We get to be darker, we get to be scarier, we get to be sexier," Harmon reasons. "We just get to do more, and I really love that. As colorful as life is, being on cable allows us to capture that more accurately."