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Tag Archive: James Duff


Strategic Operations Bureau

If you aren’t watching this season of Major Crimes, last night you likely missed the best episode of television this year, which made us do a double take as to whether this was a midseason finale special cliffhanger ratings booster.  It wasn’t.  Likewise, it was the best TV pilot we’ve seen in ages (more on that later).  And add to that one of the most satisfying conclusions that The Closer and Major Crimes writers James Duff and Mike Bercham have concocted yet.

Directed by The Closer, Major Crimes, Dallas, and NYPD Blue director Michael M. Robin, the episode “Two Options” took an almost Dragnet approach to a police procedural and crammed more drama into an hour of TV than we thought possible.  And the climax might have caused someone to claim it as the best stand-and-cheer moment since Eowyn killed the Witch-King at the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Reviewers write about new seasons and finale episodes all the time, but it takes a great hour of regular programming to cause you to stop in your tracks and tell everyone about it, especially in the week full of press briefings leading up to Comic-Con.

Major Crimes Two Options and SOB

For regulars of the series who haven’t watched the episode yet, we’ll just note that everyone gets his and her moment–Sharon, Louie, Andy, Mike, Julio, Buzz, Amy, Taylor, Rusty, Dr. Joe, Cooper, and even Fritz.  Although if we worked in the actual district attorneys’ office in Los Angeles we’d probably not be too happy with the portrayals of last years’ Deputy D.A. Rios or last night’s D.D.A. Gloria Lim.

That brings us to our prediction.  Allow us to summon the ghost of Carnac the Magnificent.  (Drum roll, please).

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major crimes season 2 dvd cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re keeping up with the third season of Major Crimes on TNT, you’ll have seen last night’s episode, “Frozen Assets.”  Set up with a preposterous plot–a multi-millionaire who has her head frozen and a poisoning that is foiled by returning detective wannabe Dick Tracy (Andrew Daly) from a 2009 episode of The Closer–Major Crimes yet again proves the show knows no bounds as to what the ensemble cast can get sucked into (and suck viewers into).  Like Season Two’s episode with a comedy twist “There’s No Place Like Home,” which featured Marion Ross, Tim Conway, Ron Glass, Paul Dooley, and Doris Roberts in a plot to murder their landlord, “Frozen Assets” shows the lighter side of a series that usually reflects the violent world of L.A. crime.  If you missed Season Two, the DVD release from Warner Bros. is here, and it’s full of plenty of extras for Major Crimes fans.

Creator and executive producer James Duff delves deep into the story development for Season Two in the special feature “Major Crimes: Personal Conviction,” revealing his vision of a season split between stories about “identity” as a theme–who the characters are and who the culprits of the crimes are and how they all got to where they are–and “character,” growth of the main cast members and learning more about these characters we thought we already knew from the prior eight years on television.  Each cast member discusses their view of the characters they play (except the strangely absent Raymond Cruz).  The crew seems to agree that Graham Patrick Martin’s Rusty Beck became the lynchpin and glue holding together the series for the second season, especially his relationship with series lead Mary McDonnell as Captain Sharon Raydor.

Major Crimes Season 2 cast

The series begins with the opener “Final Cut,” directed by Roxann Dawson, who sci-fi fans will know as Lt. B’Elanna Torres from Star Trek Voyager, and who also played Detective Ortega in a 2011 episode of The Closer.  This episode introduced D.D.A. Emma Rios, played by Nadine Velazquez, the prosecutor who constantly clashes with the Major Crimes squad (interspersed with a season full of hilarious flirtations by Detective Sanchez).  Duff acknowledges why viewers proclaim how much they hate the character, and also why she fits perfectly into the dynamic of the show.

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Major Crimes Season Two banner

TNT’s first season of Major Crimes was the surprise win of 2012.  It accomplished something very rare, taking a series–The Closer–that might otherwise have wound down after seven seasons, and used a change in cast to take the best ensemble cast on TV in a very different direction.  For fans of the series wanting to delve deeper into the decision to move the story of L.A.’s Major Crimes unit from a team bent on getting criminal admissions to settling cases, check out Major Crimes: The Complete First Season, available on DVD, next Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

The DVD set includes the ten season one episodes plus four behind-the-scenes features, deleted scenes showing some good acting by the cast that didn’t make the final cut, and a blooper reel.  The best of the features, “Major Crimes: Major Challenge,” examines the big hurdle for this spinoff series, and series creator/writer and executive producer James Duff reveals the challenges, rationale for story arcs, and casting decisions that resulted in the first season of Major Crimes.  Duff is open about the struggle the writers had, ultimately pulling the reality of national economic crises into the series as a key story element that grounded the first season episodes.  Here are three clips from Season One:

Series star Mary McDonnell and the rest of the cast discuss the characters in the feature “Crossing the Tape: Inside the Major Crimes Squad,” touching on Captain Raydor in particular.  Fans of the series actors cannot get enough of these types of interviews, and hopefully future season DVD sets include in-depth interviews with Lieutenant Provenza (G.W. Bailey), Lieutenant Flynn (Tony Denison), Lieutenant Tao (Michael Paul Chan), Detective Sanchez (Raymond Cruz), and Buzz (Phillip P. Keene).  This includes some insightful anecdotes, such as having show writers refer to Detective Tao instead as Mike to personalize the role and cut-through the possible stereotype of Michael Paul Chan’s character as just another Asian on TV.  Instead of focusing on featurettes tied to the characters from The Closer, the DVD set includes two features focusing on the new key roles: witness turned foster teen Rusty (Graham Patrick Martin) and the too-eager-to-please Detective Sykes (Kearran Giovanni).

Major Crimes Complete First Season DVD

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