Los Angeles' best closer may be gone, but that doesn't mean killers and crooks catch a break in the City of Angels these days. Not, at least, on TNT.
After seven seasons as one of television's best-loved cops, Brenda Leigh Johnson is no longer around to coax out confessions with her honeyed drawl. (While she was on the job, actress Kyra Sedgwick was nominated for five Emmys and The Closer became one of cable's most-watched shows.) Not ones to leave their beat, Brenda's old squad is still on the telly, just with a new boss (Brenda's best frienemy Sharon Raydor) and a new title (Major Crimes).
Captain Raydor was introduced in Season 5 of The Closer as an in-department antagonist—a badge-wearing watchdog tasked with sniffing out instances where officers had used excessive force or stepped over a legal line while bringing bad guys to justice. Since cozying up to that line was at times a point of pride for Brenda and her end-justifies-the-means team, she and Raydor clashed. Frequently.
Now Raydor's heading the same team that for three years barely tolerated her presence. Tension? Uh, yeah. And Brenda and Sharon couldn't be more different. Where Brenda was all Southern charm and toughness—a heaping helping of grits with a side of magnolia—Sharon's a by-the-book professional, pleasant but a bit distant. She's not chummy and never silly.
How are the two similar? In the way they make the crook or cop who dares cross her rue the day they met.
Major Crimes, like its predecessor, still balances hardboiled crime procedural roots with a light office atmosphere, full of banter and inside jokes. But it can be deadly earnest at times, too—and surprisingly touching.
Sharon serves as a foster guardian to Rusty Beck, a one-time homeless teen prostitute introduced to viewers in The Closer's waning days. Rusty's troubled past makes his relationship with authority figures naturally, and obviously, strained, and he and Sharon get along in the beginning about as well as a bear and boa constrictor. But we're already seeing the beginnings of a connection between the two. It's a sincere start, and it hints at the heart this new/old series might have as it gains (or regains) its footing.
Due to Sharon's by-the-book persona, the show also steers clear(er) of The Closer's habit of pushing the law as far as possible (and sometimes even breaking it) in order to catch the bad guys. But Major Crimes still has some major flaws. Its language can be quite harsh, even straying into s-word territory on occasion. Crimes sometimes hinge on sleazy sexual escapades. And there's almost always at least one dead body to be uncovered and examined/dissected.
A car dealership turns into a hotbed of crime and catastrophe as a year-end blowout sale becomes a low-rent blow-up. Literally. The son of the family patriarch who's run the place for decades gets killed when a car bomb decimates his ride. The forensics guys are picking up pieces of his clothing all over the place as the crack team of cops starts picking up the pieces of the sordid story that prompted his murder.
Turns out that the unhappily married Little Ted had a gay lover on the side. His wife sues the company as part of her divorce proceedings, and skeletons start popping up all over the lot.
We see a pic of Ted and his lover shirtless and embracing at a pool. We hear about how Ted proposed "the minute the Supreme Court made it legal … that very minute." Big Ted is oblivious to the infidelity of his heir, meanwhile, but quickly gets up on his moral high horse when it comes to the business's profitability. Rusty complains about his mom's love for rules and talks about learning to drive when he was 12, with his mom OD'ing in the backseat. Foul language includes an uncensored "bulls‑‑‑," a "h‑‑‑" and three exclamations of "son of a b‑‑ch."
"The Ecstasy and the Agony"
A corporate bigwig is shot in the chest and killed. (We see the bloodstain.) Turns out, the guy's high up in the Israeli mob, his business a cover for smuggling Ecstasy. Oh, and his wife has been sleeping with her "life coach," who was putting the whole sordid business into a screenplay.
The life coach had been having sex with several mob wives, actually, and he realizes he'll have to leave the country to stay alive. Lt. Provenza advises him to keep doing what he's good at: sleeping with rich, married women. "That's the sort of business it sounds like you could start anywhere," he says. Provenzo admits he's been married five times himself and that sometimes sexual relations "overlapped" a bit.
We hear the s-word once, as well as "h‑‑‑," "b‑‑tard," "b‑‑ch" and "p‑‑ck." There are a half-dozen misuses of God's name.
More palatable and "chewable" is this: Rusty gets in trouble at his new Catholic school ("I'm not even Catholic," he complains to Sharon), for "lying" (actually, truthfully talking about how he helped catch a serial killer) and fighting with classmates. The priest wants to kick Rusty out, but Sharon talks him out of it, asking if throwing out a boy for telling the truth and defending himself was "an example you want our congregation to follow?" Still, she upbraids Rusty for making trouble. And later, when Rusty talks back to her (a regular thing this episode), Sharon says he should spend the afternoon thinking about the word civility. And, she says, "if it might be proper to treat me with the same respect that I am showing you."