Monday, June 18, 2007

THE CLOSER Season Three Begins Tonight!

It’s summer, and that means it’s time for a brand new slew of summer replacement programs while we wait for the returning fall programs to start up again.

Fortunately, that means the successful summer series are also returning. Chief among those is The Closer which is being touted as cable television’s #1 show ever. The series stars Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson, an ex-CIA specialist who handled interviews and interrogations for the agency. When it comes to getting the truth out of someone, Brenda can each and every time in an original and unique way all her own.

As a Southern woman, Brenda acts differently than all of the television her ones out there. She’s bossy, yet polite. She chews you out, yet you feel special because she gave you her undivided attention. She can make eating chocolate seem like a sexual experience. She runs a homicide investigation unit, yet she’s still a daddy’s girl. She knows she’s supposed to play fair with others, but she doesn’t care. She says “please” and “thank you” and “thank you so much” even when she’s telling people how stupid they are, asking them to do something dreadful, or telling you – no – she’s not going to do something.

I love this character.

Brenda also comes with a lot of baggage. She isn’t exactly a people-pleaser, doesn’t really care what other people think when she’s doing her job, and looks at solving murders before she looks at balancing Los Angeles police department’s budget or department regulations. It doesn’t endear her to her boss, Will Pope. Of course, the fact that Brenda used to have an extramarital affair with him when she was working with him at an earlier juncture in their careers also means that she has extra ammunition along the way.

Driven by her career, Brenda expects the same effort she puts forth to come from the people who work for her. That causes lot of problems and aggressive friction between the characters. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons of The Closer I really recommend that you rush out and rent them or buy them before you see the new episodes that started airing tonight. That back history is important and shows the development of the character and the special murder investigation unit. The first season especially brings home Brenda’s character as well as the department and personal problems she has to contend with on a daily basis.

Placed in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Priority Homicide Division, Brenda only handles the hard cases with high profile earmarks. She goes after the untouchable, and she tends to quickly solve cases that are hitting the news and media outlets in a fury.

When she first arrived in Los Angeles, Brenda had no friends. Except Will Pope. And ex-lovers don’t really count. Nor can they be counted on.

In this third season, though, if Brenda is friends with most of the detectives she’s working, has a live-in boyfriend (that she can’t exactly explain to her father because she came from Atlanta and even though other people do that, he doesn’t expect her to do that), a cat, and a house.

The boyfriend is Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney), who also happens to be a special agent for the FBI. Fritz can get information that the LAPD can’t. Brenda has been known, on several occasions, to take advantage of that fact. And Fritz knows she’s taking advantage of him and doesn’t always go along with her wishes. He understands her, but you can see that she drives him crazy at times. And not in a good way.

Over the last two years, the detectives who work for Brenda have really come along as characters. I care about them and want to see them in each and every episode. They are real to me, and they are real to the fans the love this show.

J. K. Simmons (who played absolutely the best J. Jonah Jameson I have ever seen in the new Spiderman franchise movies, and he missed playing Perry White in the new Superman Returns movie) stars as Assistant Police Chief Will Pope. The relationship he has with Brenda is absolutely amazing. I tune in every week just to watch her run him through the wringer over some issue, personal or professional. It never fails to crack me up.

Soft-spoken Corey Reynolds place Sergeant David Gabriel, Brenda’s major domo and liaison in the department. He’s only starred in television shows so far, but I really think he’s got a successful future ahead of him.

G. W. Bailey stars as Detective Lieutenant Provenza, the unit’s curmudgeon and Neanderthal throwback. He’s absolutely one of the reasons I watch this program. (You may remember him from the Police Academy movies.)

Anthony John Denison (whose face you’ll also remember from dozens of television shows) play sharp-dressed Detetective Andy Flynn.

Robert Gossett stars as Commander Taylor, a rival division head who was once Brenda’s most vicious enemy within the department.

Michael Paul Chan stars as Detective Mike Tao, the ballistics and physical evidence expert. He brings a lot of subtle humor to the show.

Raymond Cruz plays Detective Sanchez, a brooding and solid Hispanic investigator who rarely cracks a smile.

Philip P. Keene stars as Buzz, the computer expert. The Rowl is actually very small, if because most of the drama derives from the character interactions. But Keene has made himself known on several occasions and has actually been a scene-stealer from time to time.

Gina Ravera plays Detective Daniels, the unit’s other female detective.

There are a lot of reasons to tune in The Closer. Kyra Sedgwick – already an award-winning actress, including five Golden Globes – won a Saturn Award for her portrayal of Brenda Johnson in the series. Rumor has it that Sedgwick has been locked up in the series for a total commitment of seven seasons.

In addition all the actors are so well-seasoned that they function like a well oiled machine. The writing is exquisite, but the timing and delivery of the lines can make or break a script. These people make it every time.

For the puzzle and mystery crowd, The Closer presents a great puzzle and fairly placed clues throughout. They even manage to keep secret the true perpetrator of the murder(s) a lot of the time. My wife and I love making our guesses at every turn and twist of the plot. We’re armchair sleuths and enjoy a good mental workout. Even when we know who the killer is, we try to work out how Brenda is going to catch that person by the end of the episode. My 24 year old son is hooked on the show as well.

Adding to the flavor of the show, Brenda usually gets blindsided by the department rules and regulations, or trying to figure out Los Angeles, or being a small town Southern girl in a big West Coast city. This human frailty makes her a deeper and richer character that I care about a lot. Brenda is like a lot of women I grew up with and still know to this day. I wouldn’t want to face life without them.

And she usually has relationship issues. In the beginning it was trying to sort out all the feelings with Will Pope and where the lines were going to be drawn. With the addition of Fritz, those relationship issues a taken on a much more personal flavor as they attempt to sort out what they mean to each other and how they’re going to be in each other’s lives. Without driving each other crazy.

The Closer is must-see TV in my house. I couldn’t believe how excited my wife and I both were to see the episode tonight, which was aired without commercial interruption. The repeat airing later had commercial interruption.

This is my introduction to the series for those of you who haven’t seen it before. I’m going to try to keep up a weekly log to review the individual shows. If you haven’t seen it, and you like police shows or character-driven shows, please try an episode and decide for yourself.

Thank you so much.


Angela/SciFiChick said...

I tried watching one episode. And while I like the actress in other roles I've seen her in. I really can't stand her in this one. Her bad accent is a major factor. lol

Mel Odom said...

But I LOVE the accent. It sounds like home! :)