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August 29, 2015

The Closer: Dial M For Provenza

by Brett Love, posted Aug 12th 2008 12:40AM

Jennifer Coolidge and G.W. Bailey - The Closer
(S04E05) This was probably the most anticipated episode of The Closer ever, for me. I mentioned the episode in the early look at the season, and the idea of Provenza stepping into the spotlight and working undercover seemed like a can't miss. Add to that the dramatic conclusion to last week's "Live Wire" and we really seemed to have the makings of a great episode on our hands. Unfortunately, it didn't really work out that way. "Dial M For Provenza" certainly had it's moments, but overall, I'd call it hit and miss. I'll explain, after the jump..

Let's get started right where we left off last week, Fritz and Brenda. Good grief, that was a fantastic scene, and there were so many ways to interpret it. As I watched it, I was fully on the side of Fritz. Brenda was completely in the wrong. A little time, and FloridaGirl25's comment on the review, had me reconsidering. Fritz did play his part. And all of that played a big part in my excitement for this latest entry.

What we got, honestly, was really kind of a let down. Bitten by the fact that The Closer isn't a true-to-form serial. I get that, and I can roll with it usually. But to just see Fritz in the background, joking about Brenda's case, took it too far away from the serial line. A big development like the end of "Live Wire" really deserves some play at continuity. It would have actually been better if we just hadn't seen Fritz at all, then Brenda's frustrations with Provenza would have played in a whole new light. Disappointed, but looking forward to the return to that story.

On a brighter note, the increased Provenza did work really well here. It's one of the great things about The Closer. While Brenda is the show, what makes it great is the cast of characters that surround her. As we approach 50 episodes, we now have enough background on all of them that we are invested. We get Brenda's attachment to Provenza, and we get Pope's budget concerns. My only complaint about Provenza's part in all of this is that I would have liked to see more of his undercover operation.

Although, that may have been asking for more trouble, because this was one of those cases that kind of strains the suspension of disbelief. The team just splits up to drive back? Provenza and Flynn are transporting the prisoner, and the evidence, in his personal Civic instead of Brenda's cruiser? It's the kind of convenience that makes you cringe a little bit. Fortunately, once the case moved beyond the murder for hire sting, it got a little better.

Jennifer Coolidge - The CloserThe scene with Hava..Hanaav...Hanava...Hank and Brenda was classic. Right down to Brenda with the sweet little, "We all tell little white lies from time to time..." And I loved Gabriel's reaction, "No." Until the bit about the combination, I was still unsure of just where we were headed. The brother as the culprit, and Provenza saving his own bacon by working the confession out of Angie, made for a solid wrap up to an episode that started on some shaky footing.

The biggest surprise of the episode for me was another bit that missed, and that was Jennifer Coolidge as Angie. It's surprising because I really like Jennifer Coolidge. I think she's very funny, and well cast for this part. But what was up with that accent? It came and went, and I'm just not sure why it was there in the first place. If you're asking us to believe the bit with the Civic, we're going to be just fine dealing with Alex Serabian marrying a buxom blonde American woman. It was all just odd and distracting.

Finally, the last scene with Pope and Provenza really was great. It's something we've seen before. Two members of the team with tension between them finding a common ground and sharing a moment. It reminded me of Brenda and Taylor in "Cherry Bombs." So, overall, it was a good episode, but stopped short of being great by some bits that just didn't quite work. If this is the worst we get though, we're way ahead of the game. Let's try it all again next week.

Other fun stuff:
--Tao continues to be a scene stealer. Both with his Dr. Horrible goggles for the bomb removal, and the followup popping through the wall in exaltation. He also had the line of the night with, "Money is exchanged...and so ends another Provenza date."

-- The bit with Provenza taking the picture of Willie Rae to use in his interrogation was very funny. "He's always been fond of my mother." Of course, that was topped by the exchange with the perp. "Do you know who this is?" "Your daughter?"

-- The short exchanges with Brenda and Pope were very good. My favorite was the look on her face as she tried to hide the fact that Serabian had now been murdered for real. And Pope's reaction to the realization.

Did this episode need to deal with Fritz and Brenda?
Yes, they can't just leave that hanging.76 (40.4%)
It didn't have to, but what they did really didn't work.56 (29.8%)
No, it's a procedural. These things are expected.56 (29.8%)

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Toby O\'B

I was off on vacation for a few weeks and only just so this last night. My favorite moment came from Pope when he saw that Serabian was murdered. "With me! With me!" Very funny.

And I loved the truce/bonding between Pope and Provenza at the end.

August 29 2008 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This Episode was hilarious, I think that some people's expectations get the better of them when they watch such a quality show. I was laughing throughout, what's wrong with having a lighter episode?

August 13 2008 at 11:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morjana Coffman

While I enjoyed the episode as a whole -- mainly because I love G. W. Bailey as Provenza, and a lot of Provenza really helped this episode -- this episode was not really what I have to come expect for 'The Closer.'

Especially how they wrote the evidence being lost. That was so...lame. However, errors are made every now and then...in writing an episode, and by law enforcement agencies, so I'll give 'The Closer' a mulligan on this episode.

REALLY wanted to see a follow up of Brenda and Fritz from the last episode.

August 12 2008 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm thinking Fritz was drunk at the beginning

August 12 2008 at 1:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Margaret Calvert

I loved this episode. It's one of my all-time favorites and I've never missed an episode since The Closer started. It just shows that "different strokes for different folks" is still very true. I laughed out loud so many times. I'm really glad this show continues to integrate comedy with the drama. The writers have done it in top notch form on a regular week-to-week basis. For The Closer and Saving Grace to be on the same night and in succession is too good for words. And, how can you not love the ensemble cast in The Closer. The Best!

August 12 2008 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Allison Solow

I agree, Brett. This episode felt a little forced, like they were trying to a change of pace, comedy and overplayed it. I loved last year's Provenza & Flynn and the Dodger game comic episode; that's what I think they were going for here.

Jennifer C. did seem to be all over the place with the accent. Was she trying to do an Armenian accent? I wasn't sure.

Overall, it wasn't a total miss, but not nearly as strong as the previous eps. And, yes, Fritz should have been out of the episode entirely. Seeing him and their not addressing last week's blow out was bad. If he wasn't there, our imaginations would have been engaged to wonder if the fight was still going on.

August 12 2008 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The second best line of the night was Fritz's "The FBI hasn't manufactured evidence since the 1990s."

my one question is though - did we ever learn who killed Alex?

August 12 2008 at 7:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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