Television Series DVD

The Closer: The Complete First Season

Distributed By: Warner Video

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Why is it that every show I really enjoy gets cancelled?  I mean, I know that The Closer has been on for seven seasons and that Kyra Sedgwick wanted to leave the show on a high note, but I really loved that show.  It was one of those series that, despite being a cop show, had a unique flavor and reeled you in, making you care about the characters.  Once you started watching, you never wanted it to end.  It was one of those shows that I refused to tape, but had to watch the moment it aired.  I realized that I was going to miss Brenda Leigh Johnson and her sometimes quirky, but always no nonsense way of catching murderers.  What was a Closer fan to do?  Watch The Closer: The Complete First Season and relive the earliest moments of the series.

            When Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) joins the LAPD, her arrival is not met with enthusiasm.  A transplant from Atlanta, Georgia, the CIA-trained Johnson is a "closer," capable of not only solving crimes, but obtaining the confession from the perpetrator needed to seal their conviction.  A close relationship with Chief Will Pope (J.K. Simmons) lands her a job leading the Priority Homicide Division at the Los Angeles Police Department

            Strike one against her is that she is an outsider brought in at a high level capacity, namely the rank of Deputy Chief.  Strike two against her is the way she talks to people.  Brenda has a way of rankling the feathers and a sincere lack of political correctness about her.  Strike three is her past with Chief Pope which soon becomes very public knowledge.  Despite it all, Brenda muscles through and tries to maintain a professionalism while dealing with bruised egos, backstabbing co-workers and people who just plain don't understand her methods.

            The first season of The Closer gives us a basic outline of the character, introducing her to the audience and explaining her relationship with Pope, FBI Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney) and her squad.  While presenting herself to her coworkers as a strong, independent woman, we also get to see another side of Brenda when others aren't paying attention - the side that is not so sure of herself, seeks approval and needs some chocolate to make it through the day.

            At work, we are amazed at how she manages to solve the murder of a high tech millionaire, despite the presence of many clues or any fingerprints at the crime scene; a former model who seemingly has it all until she applies some toxic conditioner to her hair; a Russian call-girl with a VIP client list; gang members possibly killed not by each other, but by a sniper; the scientist who instituted a university-run study of a trial medication used to help addicted teens stay clean; a Congresswoman's daughter who appears to have had quite the interesting sex life; a state judge whose autistic son witnessed his murder, but is unable to articulate what he saw in ordinary means; a gay man who may have fallen victim of a hate crime; an illegal immigrant daughter of a maid working for an affluent LA family; a butler whose death is made to appear to be a suicide; a prominent Iranian businessman on the FBI watch list, despite meddling from the FBI themselves; the murderer of a woman who has been long dead, her alleged murderer locked up for the crime - oh, did I mention that the woman they thought he murdered turned up some time later...dead from a drug overdose rather than the murder by fire his victim supposedly died from (so who's that in the grave?) and a subpar filmmaker found dead in his Jacuzzi

            Through it all, she must learn how to deal with Robbery Homicide Division Captain Taylor (Robert Gossett) and his jealous dislike of the newest member of the LAPD, handle a squad who doesn't trust her or her methods, find a place to live, tend to the very pregnant cat living in the home she chooses for herself, manage a love life which always seems to be interrupted by a murder investigation, get Chief Pope to see her as something other than a former lover who happens to be good at her job and fight an anonymous conduct unbecoming complaint.  And she must do it all with southern grace and a sharp tongue.

            The character of Brenda Leigh Johnson is someone that any female attempting a position of power can look up to.  She may not always do things the popular way, but she conducts herself with a style and grace that you can't help but admire.  As the show moves forward, you learn about the different members of her squad and begin to appreciate their quirky, yet perceptive and intuitive crime solving abilities.  Pope and Taylor quickly become characters that you place in the untrustworthy and possibly enemy category and the viewer's perception of Agent Howard is immediately Brenda's perception - he can get on your nerves at times as Agent Howard, but the romantic in you is rooting Fritz the man on in his pursuit of Brenda.

            Despite the fact that this was the first season of the series, the show was well-rounded with enough people story, police story and mystery to keep the viewer engaged and coming back for more.  Thus, the seven seasons, of which I have watched every single one.

            Watching this first season on DVD, I was sad to note that the only extras available were deleted scenes.  For the most part, I think the editors did an excellent job in culling unnecessary scenes, with the exception of one or two episodes, so the deleted scenes were kind of boring.  Watching this show, you had to know that there were times when the folks couldn't help but crack up, like when Lt. Louis Provenza (G.W. Bailey) roams a crime scene, mockingly dishing out orders like Deputy Chief Johnson, until the real Deputy Chief arrives to catch him at it.  A making of documentary would have been nice also.

            In closing, I wish there were more extras, but I truly enjoyed re-watching the episodes that turned me on to the show in the first place.  The Closer: The Complete First Season is one of those TV series DVDs that any fan of crime dramas featuring a fun quirky side is going to love.  What do I have to say to the creators of The Closer and Kyra Sedgwick who made the character of Brenda Leigh Johnson so entertaining?  Thank youuuuuu, thank you very much!

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