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Mixed Notes - Aug. 14

By Rich Heldenfels Published: August 14, 2012

It's the customary DVD release day of the week,  but today will be greatly overshadowed by the release later this week of "The Hunger Games" on DVD and Blu-ray. My column about that and some other video matters is here.

So, did you watch the finale of "The Closer' and the premiere of "Major Crimes"? I wrote about the "Major Crimes" premiere for Sunday's Beacon Journal but once again a Sunday column proved impossible to find online. So here's the text:

The Closer ends its impressive run on TNT at 9 p.m. Monday — with its successor series following at 10 p.m.
The new series, Major Crimes, follows that unit of the Los Angeles Police Department after the departure of Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) in the Closer series finale, which I won’t spoil here. Early in the new show’s first episode, Capt. Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) becomes the new leader of the squad. And, besides catching criminals, the squad now has to get them to make plea agreements in order to reduce the time and costs devoted to court cases.
In a statement, The Closer and Major Crimes creator James Duff promised that the new show “will feel very comfortable” to fans of the older series, not only with cast holdovers but in the way the show is shot and edited — and the time slot, which will be The Closer’s old 9 p.m. Monday one beginning Aug. 20.
Indeed, besides Raydor, the new series returns squad members Provenza (G.W. Bailey), Flynn (Tony Denison), Sanchez (Raymond Cruz), Tao (Michael Paul Chan) and Buzz (Phillip P. Keene) as regulars, with guest appearances by Taylor (Robert Gossett), now a deputy chief in the department, and Fritz (Jon Tenney), the liaison between LAPD and the FBI. Sedgwick, for that matter, has said there is a chance she will guest-star, and Brenda is far from forgotten as Major Crimes begins.
The new series adds a new detective, Sykes (Kearran Giovanni), who gets under people’s skin quickly, and Rusty (Graham Patrick Martin), a young man who first appears on Monday’s Closer finale.
Still, Major Crimes seems not so much a continuation of The Closer as a resetting of the original concept. When The Closer began, the squad was trying to recover from public embarrassment and had a new leader, Brenda, whom many of its members resented. The squad had to learn new ways of approaching cases as well. Major Crimes also has a squad with some heavy baggage, a new and resented boss, and another approach to cases — not only in the idea of plea deals but in Raydor’s insistence on following rules that Brenda found highly bendable. The new series even includes a defense attorney played by an actor who played an attorney in the Closer premiere.
There are flaws. The Rusty storyline is cumbersome, an awkward way of showing another side of Raydor. But there are also virtues. The cast is still strong, and it looks as if Major Crimes will be more of an ensemble effort than The Closer. It’s a reasonably good continuation, with the possibility of better episodes ahead.

As for the conclusion of The "Closer," it felt  right emotionally, if a bit implausible in real terms. Would Brenda have gotten her new job considering all the problems in her police tenure? Would a master criminal suddenly make a reckless move after being so smart for so long? But it at least wrapped up Brenda's story in a satisfying way -- and I suspect we will not be seeing much of her nemesis's trial, since he is now on NBC's "Revolution."

 Another good "Bunheads" last night, and a rebound from the previous week. Much as I like the show, the crying scene a week ago felt completely wrong; is Sutton Foster incapable of on-camera tears?


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