Television Series DVD

The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season

Distributed By: Warner Video

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                I loved The Closer and miss it much.  One of the best dramatic crime series TNT has ever produced, The Closer ended while the show was still on top of its game years ago, but I still love it.  Summer television can be such a drag with nothing on worth watching, so I decided to break out my DVD set of The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season.

                Season Five is all about change and not just for Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick), but for everyone in the squad.  According to the show’s creator, it’s the theme of the season.  Things start with Products of Discovery and a family murdered while eating breakfast and getting ready for school.  This is the Major Crimes Division’s first case since Detective Daniels’ (Gina Rivera) departure from the squad (one major change).  Another huge change presents itself in a very interesting look for Lt. Provenza (G.W. Bailey) thanks to a much younger girlfriend.

                This is followed by Blood Money in which the team searches for a high-stakes crooked con-man who may or may not have been kidnapped for ransom, but more than likely has been killed.  Meanwhile, Brenda is dealing with the fact that her cat is very ill.  Kitty has become a part of her family and the first being that accepted Brenda right away since her arrival in Los Angeles.  Losing her is something that Brenda can’t comprehend, no matter how husband and FBI Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney) tries to prepare her for the inevitable.

                In Red Tape, Sergeant Gabriel’s (Corey Reynolds) ordeal with a complicated police shooting makes him realize that he has to give up on his relationship with Daniels.  This episode represents the first time we meet Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) of Internal Affairs, a character who will figure in very importantly in the seasons to come.  She will eventually take over the Major Crimes Division after Brenda leaves.  In Walking Back the Cat, Fritz asks for Brenda’s help finding an FBI contact who disappears from a gay rave and the team are introduced to Provenza’s girlfriend.

                In Half Load, Brenda and her team find themselves dealing with Father Jack (Mark Rolston) again.  Though they aren’t received with opened arms, Brenda must try to bond with the priest and his violence-torn community in an effort to discover who killed an ex-gang member who had turned his life around.  From there, the team moves on to the murder of an internet sleaze sensation (Tapped Out).   Too bad much of the case has been compromised thanks to Lt. Provenza, Lt. Flynn (Tony Denison) and Assistant Chief Will Pope (J.K. Simmons) who unwittingly allow a fake detective named Dick Tracy to take possession of their evidence.

                In Strike Three, the victims are two Los Angeles Police Department patrolmen and one Aryan follower.  Brenda finds herself once again working with/against Sharon Raydor proving that the officers were justified in shooting the civilian victim while discovering who his accomplices were and putting them behind bars.  This is followed by the discovery of the body of an accused murderer found in Elysian Fields.  The victim, who most feel wholly unsympathetic towards, appears to have been tortured – dragged behind a car before shot to death.  The Major Crimes detectives bring in the lead detective on the old murder cases, hoping he will have some insight on this new murder.  Brenda is about to learn something very important from Retired Detective Joey Olin (Tom Skerritt) – if you hold on too tightly to the cases you can’t solve (Philip Stroh’s case, for instance), they can eat you alive and ultimately destroy you.

           Just when that harrowing affair is over, Brenda is plagued with yet another change – her parents (Barry Corbin and Frances Sternhagen) come to her for help.  Brenda’s niece, Charlie (Sosie Bacon), is a troubled teen who has worn out her welcome in her father’s home and is trying the patience of Brenda’s parents.  They hope a stay with Aunt Brenda will not only straighten Charlie out, but maybe inspire some maternal instincts in Brenda as well.  Brenda is none too pleased with the situation which spans over four tumultuous episodes.  In Identity Theft, Brenda discovers that a case that had been considered closed by Major Crimes prior to Brenda’s arrival is about to put the wrong man in prison.  She uses her niece to talk to a schizophrenic young man regarding the facts of his therapist’s murder and the results are shocking. 

In Smells Like Murder, the Major Crimes Division receives a package – human remains stuffed in a large cooler.  Brenda thinks that this case could be a perfect teaching tool for Sgt. Gabriel who is about to take the Detectives Exam.  Meanwhile, Charlie pulls a stunt that seems pretty funny, until Uncle Fritz figures it out.  Her actions threaten her stay at Brenda’s home.  Brenda manages to smooth things over with Fritz, but before she can fully take Charlie to task, they stumble on a shooting at a local high school (Maternal Instincts).  Both Charlie and Brenda become attached to one of the survivors (Philip Ettinger) of what they initially believe is a drug-related shooting.  As the case moves forward, it becomes readily apparent that the survivor was actually the target all along, but will he last long enough to point Brenda in the direction of the shooter. 

           Waivers of Extradition finds Brenda’s father Clay arriving to take Charlie home just when Brenda is in the middle of trying to discover the identity of a serial killer whose path of destruction is a stretch of highway from Texas to Los Angeles.  It is in this episode that Brenda finally realizes that Charlie’s visit, though trying, has actually been good for both of them. This is a change that Brenda can actually embrace in its fullest.

In the final episodes, change has more of an effect on others in the unit, though the introduction of a new kitten in Brenda’s life by Fritz does present a big change for Brenda herself.  Provenza breaks up with his girlfriend, making him even more cranky before responding to the crime scene of a twelve-year-old gang member (The Life).  If his break-up wasn’t unsettling enough, Provenza is about to learn that his old ladies’ man partner George (Beau Bridges) is now a lady named Georgette (Make Over).  This could prove detrimental to a case that they had solved in which the murderer confessed to George thanks to his flirtatious ways.  Dead Man's Hand finds Captain Raydor coming to Brenda for help with an officer in her unit whom she believes is a victim of domestic violence.  When that officer’s home becomes a crime scene, the two adversaries find a common ground in bringing the murderer to justice.  Meanwhile, Fritz has been offered a promotion that would lead to a move back to Washington, D.C.

                This season of The Closer was a lot of fun and I loved the episodes with Charlie.  Portrayed by Kyra Sedgwick’s own daughter, these episodes forced Brenda to use maternal instincts she never knew she had…but somewhat affirmed the idea that having children of her own was not something Brenda was exactly ready for.  I could sympathize with Brenda on the loss of Kitty, having been through the loss of a beloved cat due to prolonged illness twice.  And new kitten Joel, actually portrayed by three rescue kittens, is adorable.  I applaud the decision to use rescue cats on The Closer as these animals are in desperate need of homes.  Other great and funny moments in this season include Provenza’s transformation to please his younger girlfriend, his reaction to the new identity of his former partner, Assistant Chief Pope’s ride along gone sour and the witch drawing on the crime board in reference to Captain Raydor.  Favorite dramatic moments come in Maternal Instincts, when Brenda finds herself standing in for a dying boy’s mother in his final moments, and Waivers of Extradition in which Brenda pretends to befriend a serial killer so she can get him to confess to each of his sixteen murders.

                The actors and actresses in this series have incredible chemistry and come across as believable in their roles.  The stories are always different and when they seem a bit similar, there is always a quirk or two in the case that takes the story in an entirely different direction than what you were expecting.  There is a terrific mix of comedic notes in the midst of the drama and I credit the writers for knowing just when to insert those notes.

                The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season DVD contains a couple of extras worth viewing.  In Seen At the Crime Location Map, the creator, consultant and more take you through the various locations of each episode, revealing bits of behind the scenes information for each one and discussing some of the memorable moments of the series.  The Gag Reel is really very funny and is a must see.  Deleted scenes are located here and there on each disc.

                The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season DVD has given me my Closer fix for the summer.  Can’t wait until the winter hiatus to watch the Sixth Season on DVD!


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