Last season, TNT’s The Closer [Monday, 9/8C] pulled off an amazing feat – it got higher ratings than in its first year. The highest-rated basic cable series, ever, returns tomorrow night with a horrific murder case and serious crunch time at the Department budget cuts may cost Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson one of her team…
The Closer’s Season Three premiere, Homewrecker, opens with POV shots through a police videographer’s camera as he approaches and documents a horrific crime scene – the murder of three members of an affluent family: father, mother and daughter. Then, as Brenda [Kyra Sedgwick] tries to pull out all the stops to find the killer, she is informed of cutbacks. To make matters worse, her boyfriend, FBI Special Agent Fritz Howard [Jon Tenney] is nagging her to look at new houses/condos [he’s tired of having all his stuff in their garage].To say that Brenda is besieged is an understatement – the family may have been killed by one of its own, the teenage son, who was found hiding in the attic… high on ecstasy!
Then there’s need for a warrant that might be facilitated with Fritz’s help, but he won’t budge until Brenda goes house hunting with him. On top of that, Assistant chief Will Pop [J.K. Simmons] is having fits of apoplexy every time she does something that costs the department more money [using the department jet? OY!]. The mystery for the first ep of the season is a better than average one for the series. As usual, the writers play fair with the clues, and manage to make the solution tough by weaving it through Brenda’s other problems – like the solution to having to reassign one of her team to the Counter terrorism Unit, or maybe asking the gruff Lt.
Provenza [G.W. Bailey] to resign.
Although the ensemble cast of The Closer is excellent, this remains Kyra Sedgwick’s show as Brenda hands out assignments, cajoles, coaxes and bullies witnesses and suspects and runs interference for her team when it comes to the brass. In this commercial-free season premiere, Sedgwick is in top form – a force of nature that gets the job done regardless of the various encroaching dooms facing her team.
One of the best aspects of the show is that, although Sedgwick is the undeniable star, at some point every member of the cast gets to do something only they could do. In this ep, it’s Sergeant Gabriel [Corey Reynolds] who gets to make a contribution that could solve the manpower problem – and maybe even make the department a few bucks.
If the revelations about the murdered family go a bit weird, and the solution – though fairly set up – is more than a little unusual, that’s par for the course on this series. The longer Brenda is in charge of the Priority Homicide Squad, the more complex and twisted her cases become – and it seems that’s unlikely to change.
The result is that Brenda’s life is a mess – but [for us, at least] an entertaining and absorbing mess. Will she ask Provenza [who took a while to come around to her way of doing things] to retire? How can Fritz ever persuade her to look for a place that’s big enough for their combined stuff? Will she chief Pop a coronary? And what happens when her parents find out that Fritz has moved in with her [they still don’t know!]…
The Closer is one show where the main characters’ lives are as interesting as Brenda’s cases. If Home-wrecker is any indication, it’s entirely possible that the series could gain viewers again, this year. So, welcome back Deputy Chief Johnson – and good luck!
Final Grade: A