Aired on: TNT
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
On Monday, August 13, 2012, The Closer aired its series finale, ending what had quickly become one of my favorite police dramas after seven seasons. Kyra Sedgwick, otherwise known as Brenda Leigh Johnson, had decided to go out on a high note, when her series was still making viewers extremely happy. So happy, in fact, that the TNT network was reluctant to let go of the series altogether, creating a spin-off. Major Crimes made its debut right after the final episode of The Closer and, of course, I decided to see if it was any good.
Major Crimes focuses on the Los Angeles Police Department unit that Brenda has just left. In Brendaís absence over the last three months, it has been run by Lt. Louis Provenza (G.W. Bailey). Now, at the scene of a botched robbery of a grocery store by an organized unit who has successfully completed a number of such robberies, Assistant Chief of Operations Russell Taylor (Robert Gossett) has decided to introduce the new head of Major Crimes to her team. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to accept former Internal Affairs Captain Sharon Rayder (Mary McDonnell) as their new leader, especially after all the grief she gave the team while in IAB.
Despite the clashing, and extreme resentment on the part of Lt. Provenza, the team of Lt. Andy Flynn (Tony Denison), Lt. Michael Tao (Michael Paul Chen), Detective Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz), assisted by Civilian Surveillance Coordinator Buzz Watson (Philip P. Keene) and FBI Liaison Special Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney) get things done efficiently and effectively. They solve the mystery of the change in the grocery robbing teamís usually organized attack, the reason behind the shooting of the one robber who was captured, the links between each of the members of the team and find the missing member who somehow escaped police capture.
As they bring the final robber and possible murderer to the interview room, we notice a distinct change in the way things are going to be handled at Major Crimes without Brenda Leigh Johnson. From now on, Major Crimes will be focusing on making arrests that will not cost the taxpayers undue monetary strain. In other words, deals will be made to make certain that the perpetrator pleads guilty and spends an adequate amount of time in jail. After all, death penalty cases are long drawn out affairs, what with the appeals process and all, costing the people quite a bit before coming to a close. A guilty plea saves them the cost of a trial and ensures that the guilty get locked up.
Not everyone is overjoyed at this change in focus, especially Provenza who makes his displeasure about it and the appointment of Detective Amy Sykes (Kearran Giovanni) to the group to take the place of Sgt. David Gabriel (Corey Reynolds) known to Taylor. Unfortunately, Taylor makes it very clear that Provenza is to accept this new version of Major Crimes or head off to retirement.
In the midst of all of this, Rusty Beck (Graham Patrick Martin), the young murder witness from Brendaís last Major Crimes case, has run away from foster care. Brenda had promised him that the LAPD Major Crimes Unit would try to find his mother and they havenít come through on the deal. Itís up to Captain Rayder to figure out how to keep the boy under wraps until the murder trial can be completed.
So, what did I think of Major Crimes? Well, I liked the fact that The Closer ended in a way that leaves things open for a visit from Brenda now and then. The fact that Agent Howard is still working with Major Crimes keeps her character in viewers memory, although Iím not sure that Kyra Sedgwick will ever actually make an appearance. Loving The Closer as much as I do means Iím happy that they found a way to keep the Major Crimes aspect running with my favorite quirky characters. I even started liking Captain Rayder toward the end of The Closer, so Iím not opposed to her running Major Crimes.
The problems comes in with the new focus of the unit. I can thoroughly understand the distaste with which Provenza and the other members of Major Crimes look at making deals with suspects. I donít like it much myself, but see this change as something that has been happening in the legal system of late. The fact that I, and many viewers wonít like this, doesnít take away the fact that this approach is the more realistic one considering the legal system of America today.
Yet despite how realistic it is, I wonder if it wonít turn off loyal fans who preferred they way Brenda could get a confession out of the craftiest of criminals. Can Major Crimes be an adequate replacement for The Closer? Only time will tell. I can say that Iím willing to give the series, airing in The Closerís time spot at 9pm EST on TNT Monday nights, a chance to prove itself. It wonít be the same as The Closer, but it may turn out to be just as entertaining.