Television Series DVD

The Closer: The Complete Fourth Season

Distributed By: Warner Video

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I used to love watching The Closer on TNT.  In my opinion, it was one of the best police dramas ever created for the network.  So, when winter comes and my usual shows are on hiatus, it's time to break out my DVD sets of The Closer.  This time around, I watched The Complete Fourth Season.

            Things are changing for Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) - she's agreed to marry longtime FBI boyfriend Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney) and she's agreed to find a new house for the couple.  These decisions are not taken lightly and not without a whole lot of stress.  To make matters even more difficult, former lovebirds Sergeant Gabriel (Corey Reynolds) and Detective Daniels (Gina Rivera) are at each other's throats, closer media coverage of her unit is not helping and family troubles on both sides of the playing field are starting to weigh heavily.

            It all starts off with a conflagration in Griffith Park that appears to be a case of arson committed to hide a murder (Controlled Burn).  This leads to a much despised reunion with pyromaniac Bill Croelick (Jason O'Mara), who generously offers to help solve the crime.  And even worse, Brenda is told that she must conduct the investigation while being shadowed by an L.A. Times reporter (Stephen Martines).  We move on to the hit and run and run over again murder of a recently paroled convict with no shortage of suspects wanting him dead (Speed Bump).  This is followed by the suspicious suicide by a teenager who recently reported having been raped by a law enforcement member's son (Darren Yates) which reveals quite the brutal hobby (Cherry Bomb).  Episode 4 finds our reporter involved with a shooting, the victim found to be wearing a camera that may have recorded the whole incident (Live Wire).

            Things get hairier when Brenda's odd couple, Lt. Provenza (G.W. Bailey) and Lt. Flynn (Tony Denison), screwing up a wrapped up case when Provenza's car is stolen while he and Flynn are dining with the murder suspect (Jennifer Coolidge).  Losing the car wouldn't be so bad if all of the damning evidence wasn't in the trunk (Dial "M" for Provenza)!  This is followed by a case in which a teenager who has gone missing turns out to be the area's most hated person, with everyone having a reason to kill him, including his own family members (Problem Child) .  And when Detective Sanchez's (Raymond Cruz) brother (Walter Perez) is murdered, the division must rally around their own to prevent him from destroying their best chance at bringing the killer to justice (Sudden Death).  Then, Brenda's last bit of sanity is tested when she struggles to juggle a visit from her parents (Barry Corbin and Frances Sternhagen) while investigating the death of a hairdresser at a movie studio (Split Ends).

            Our L.A. Times reporter writes a scathing article regarding the cases Priority Homicide deems priority, seemingly disregarding issues affecting the less fortunate communities for the upper classes.  This calls for a shake up of the squad just as they begin investigating the murder of two Tijuana cops who somehow ended up in Los Angeles (Tijuana Brass).  After wrapping up that case, the Priority Homicide Division is no more.  Newly dubbed the Major Crimes Division, Brenda Leigh and her detectives find themselves taking on an active shooter case that could have deadly consequences for someone in her unit (Time Bomb).  Another suspicious suicide pops up after the active shooter case, but Brenda is distracted by her parents' search for wedding chapels for her upcoming nuptials (Good Faith).  Somehow, she finds a way to incorporate investigating the crime with finding a suitable revenue for her wedding.  And when a large man involved in a diamond heist ends up dead in the trunk of his car, the Major Crimes Division must deal with his on-the-side love interest to find the diamonds and the identity of the man's killer (Junk in the Trunk).

            Just when you think that Brenda Leigh has faced the most heinous of criminals, she finds herself matching wits with defense attorney whose client is a pedophile accused of a serial rape spree that has ended in murder (Power of Attorney).  But what the client reveals will shock her to the core.  This is the beginning of Brenda's obsession with Philip Stroh (Billy Burke).  Unfortunately, the Stroh issue will have to wait thanks to the arrival of the officiator of Brenda's wedding, Fritz's sister (Amy Sedaris), an eccentric woman who now believes herself to be a psychic with the ability to help Brenda solve a murder revealed only by text messages found on a burner phone (Fate Line).  And when the big day finally arrives, Brenda Leigh and Fritz both find themselves involved in major cases that could derail their plans.  Fritz is closing in on the drug kingpin he has been trying to capture all year, while Brenda is after the criminals who have been robbing escort services, the most recent one ending in murder (Marriage or Murder).

            While it has been said that this season was about the concept of power - of the media, the legal system, gun violence and more - I was more focused on the changes I saw in Brenda Leigh during Season 4.  Brenda has grown since Season 1 of The Closer.  She's allowed herself to become close to her crew, which means protecting them to a fault, even when it means protecting them from themselves.  She's realized how much she is willing to do and how far she is willing to go to bring a killer to justice.  We watch as she realizes that she has been running from her problems instead of facing them straight on.  She stands up to her parents instead of wilting in front of them.  We see Brenda get sneakier when trying to trip up suspects and gather up confessions.  And we see a hint of an obsession to come and a slip over the line between what's right and wrong in the pursuit of justice.

            Murder is never a thing to celebrate, but this particular season of The Closer featured some particularly nasty murders - teenagers, rape victims, exploding bodies and more.  The show was edgier than past seasons and that made it even more exciting than before.  I loved solving the cases along with Brenda and the members of her team.  The chemistry between the cast members is terrific and so believable that, often times, you forget you are watching a fictional series.  And it is clear that the cast has a lot of fun with one another from the Gag Reel included in the extras in the DVD set.

            There are other extras to be found in The Closer: The Complete Fourth Season.  There are some deleted scenes which, though of better sound quality than those in the past, leave you with no doubt as to why they were deleted.  Most interesting are the two featurettes.  In To Catch A Lie, three very different law enforcement agents discuss the various ways they look to catch a killer in a lie.  Their opinions on methodology may be different, but as you watch you will notice that all of these methods have been used on The Closer in one way or another.  A Day in the Life of a Homicide Detective features Corey Reynolds on a ride along with Retired LAPD Detective Mike Berchem and insights into his career and various cases he worked on.

            I had a great time re-watching Season 4 of The Closer!  Some cases I remembered and some cases I ended up solving alongside the LAPD, but it was such a fun ride, I want more.  I can't wait to watch The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season!


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