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Tag Archive: Kyra Sedgwick


Major Crimes Flight Risk

The tenth season of the Major Crimes team that began with seven years of The Closer, led by Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda Lee Johnson, and continued with two seasons of Major Crimes under Mary McDonnell’s Captain Sharon Raydor, begins tonight with Major Crimes Season Three.  If you haven’t been watching these two series you don’t really have time for a TV series binge before tonight’s season opener (although TNT will air a Season Two marathon beginning Monday morning at 1 p.m. Central/12 a.m. Eastern), but you can set your DVR and put it on your must-watch list and get caught up later this season.

Each member of Los Angeles’s Major Crimes squad is back: G.W. Bailey’s old school detective Lt. Louis Provenza, his able partner in fighting crime Tony Denison’s Lt. Andy Flynn, Michael Paul Chan’s tech savvy Lt. Mike Tao, Raymond Cruz’s Detective Julio Sanchez, who knows the neighborhoods of L.A. better than anyone, Phillip P. Keene’s evidence gatherer Buzz Watson, Kearran Giovanni’s Detective Amy Sykes, the newest member of the squad, as well as Graham Patrick Martin’s informant trying to be a regular kid Rusty Beck, Jonathan Del Arco’s Dr. Morales from the morgue lab, and Robert Gossett’s Assistant Chief Taylor, who helps keep them all on the right track.  And don’t forget G.W. Bailey tied for Best Actor in our own Best of 2013 end of year wrap-up last year.

"MAJOR CRIMES""Flight Risk" / Ep 301TNTPh: Tyler Golden

It’s arguably the best ensemble cast on television.

Here’s some quick promos from TNT for Season 3:

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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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Reviewed by C.J. Bunce

The first season of Major Crimes was better than the last season of The Closer.  It even had individual episodes that out-performed several episodes of the entire run of The Closer.  Since the production was working with pretty much the entire cast of The Closer sans the series lead, is that a commentary on Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda Lee Johnson?  Heck no, but the freshman year of Major Crimes convinced me that The Closer picked the right time to end a good thing.  Major Crimes is a good series in its own right that should be judged on its own merits.  Yes, it has its faults, including some clunky writing in its season finale.  Yet considering it was set up for failure from almost the beginning of the last season of The Closer, Major Crimes surpassed the typically lackluster performance of any season one effort.

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Monday night, TNT closed the books on one of the most popular series in its history, and began a new chapter that seems well poised to carry on the tradition of great ensemble casting and storytelling viewers have come to love.

In the series finale of The Closer, we saw the conclusion of seven years of great drama, including the wrap up of storylines sometimes two to three seasons in the making, as well as a neatly-handled setup for the new Major Crimes spinoff.  All our questions were answered, in a complex, slightly bizarre, altogether satisfying final installment featuring Chief Brenda Lee Johnson’s recurring nemesis, evil defense-attorney-slash-rapist Philip Stroh.  Johnson’s relentless pursuit of Stroh, despite an infuriating lack of physical evidence, ultimately drives her to extreme lengths–attacking Stroh and planting evidence (featuring a truly brilliant scene with the excellent but underutilized Coroner Dr. Morales (played artfully by Jonathan Del Arco, who once played our favorite borg, Hugh, on Star Trek: The Next Generation).  It’s all a bit edgy and far-fetched, but Sedgwick pulls it off, bolstered by a history of increasing histrionics over the past two seasons.  Her behavior also provides a neat exit from the series: she’ll leave the LAPD for a new job as chief of investigations for the DA’s office, taking disgraced Detective Gabriel along with her.  (Which conveniently also explains Fritz’s carryover into the new series.)

A couple of logical gaffes didn’t distract from the show’s overall impact.  When did serial rapist Stroh change his (painstakingly well-established through at least two previous episodes) M.O. and become a serial murderer instead?  And young newcomer Graham Patrick Martin pulled off a terrific performance as protected witness Rusty Beck, a teenage hustler as adept at making deals as the Department of Major Crimes–a strong showing despite some improbable moments designed to wrangle his storyline into the new series.

The very best moment in the entire episode comes during the action-packed climax–an over-the-top violent confrontation with Stroh in Johnson’s home (with only Rusty as a witness).  No spoilers, but suffice it to say that the writers concocted brilliant ends for every beloved member of the series–including Brenda’s ubiquitous black bag.

All in all, the finale felt logical, well-paced, and not overly sentimental.  With various threads wrapped up in the last several episodes, writers weren’t forced to cram too much into the finale, keeping the focus on taut storytelling and entertaining performances.  The best thing to say is the best that can be said for any series finale: It felt like a darn good episode of the show.

Despite seamlessly picking up where The Closer left off, series producers wisely gave Major Crimes its own original plotline for the pilot, giving the new show a chance to stretch its legs and introduce some of the changes viewers can expect to see, including a greater focus on action and Law & Order-style justice system manipulation.  The challenge for the new series will be to strike a balance between old and new–giving viewers enough of what we love from The Closer, while becoming more than just The Closer Minus Brenda.  I think most viewers would welcome the latter, frankly–but that’s not fair to the new series, which deserves a chance to develop in its own direction.

The cast dynamic will feel familiar to longtime Closer viewers, as the first episode centers around powerplays between Detective Provenza (G.W. Bailey) and new boss Captain Raydor (Mary McDonnell).  The two have worked together now for at least the last two seasons, so this aspect felt slightly forced and perfunctory, but no more awkward than average TV pilot growing pains.  Also slightly improbable, yet surprisingly well done, was the integration of Graham Patrick Martin’s character of Rusty, the underage witness introduced in The Closer finale.  In return for his testimony against Stroh, Rusty demands that the LAPD find the mother who abandoned him months earlier at the zoo.  Complications with the foster care system land Rusty in Captain Raydor’s custody–a twist that stretches disbelief.  It’s an interesting move, though, and it’s easy to imagine that the Rusty-Raydor relationship will mirror the zany emotional melodrama of Fritz and Brenda.

With so many familiar faces returning for Major Crimes, and the show in its predecessor’s timeslot, everything should be in place to make the new series a success.  Changes are inevitable, and maybe even exciting–with the focus off Chief Johnson, the series is free to explore new directions with the characters and storylines.  It will be interesting to see what this favorite, seasoned crew serves up with their new project!

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

For the past 6 seasons TNT’s The Closer has consistently been one of the strongest dramas in Prime Time.  With its inexplicable mix of graphic violence, quirky and lovable characters, and domestic chaos, the show delivers its own original brand of police procedural whodunnit.  Led by Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson, the entertaining ensemble cast keeps viewers tuning in weekly every summer.  Now The Closer’s last season has begun, with typical solid writing and performances. 

“Unknown Trouble” follows a mass murder in a rap music label-owned LA mansion.  Real-life rapper Reason’s music provides the undeniably catchy baseline for the whole episode–both literally and metaphorically.  But the real reason we tune in is for the drama of Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson’s personal and professional life.  And “Unknown Trouble” delivers here as well.  Within the first 20 minutes, the Major Crimes squad is plunged into organizational chaos and a wrongful death lawsuit, both of which had me fairly bubbling over with rampant speculation over what’s to come in the next 20 episodes (10 into fall, 5 winter and 6 next summer)–and beyond.

Because although Season 7 may be The Closer’s and Sedgwick’s last, it was released today that much of the cast has signed on for a Major Crimes spinoff to begin where The Closer finale leaves off.  This is happy news indeed, as I have begun to tire of Brenda’s constant angst, but knew I’d miss Flynn, Provenza, Sanchez, Tau, Gabriel and Buzz.  What could be better?  But 20 episodes is a lot of room to send off the current crew.  And lots of questions to answer–Where will Chief Pope (JK Simmons, Spider-man, Law and Order) end up?  Will Captain Raydor (Mary McDonnell, Battlestar Galactica) lead the squad?  Can Fritz (Jon Tenney, Green Lantern) and Joel continue living with Brenda?  Looks like plenty of The Closer entertainment to keep us watching through next year.