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December 19, 2014

The Closer: Tapped Out

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 14th 2009 12:13AM

There's an old show biz line that goes, "Dying is easy, comedy is hard." Well, sometimes when dramas try a comic episode, it can be a little like death warmed over. Or a show can completely succumb to humor and forget the original genre entirely (you know that I'm talking about you, Mr. Monk). Fortunately, when The Closer chooses to take a walk on the funny side, it usually hits the mark. This episode was a bull's eye.

It was also great to see The Closer shine a light on J.K. Simmons. As Assistant Chief Will Pope, Simmons is great as Brenda's boss and the face of the L.A. cops in many tense situations, political and otherwise. A consummate character actor -- Juno, Burn After Reading, Spider-Man -- Simmons always brings a lot to the show. This episode was prime Simmons, with Pope the butt of the jokes and off his game, if you will. How else could a faux police detective named Dick Tracy dupe the chief?

Often the plots of TV crime shows have a certain familiarity, but this one felt fresh. The idea that Dick had completely snowed Pope, Flynn and Provenza at the crime scene -- one that Flynn and Provenza were quick to note was supposed to be covered by Central -- was ingenious. Although considering how Brenda has always been a stickler for procedure, it was a bit incredible that Flynn, Provenza and Pope would all turn over their business cards without ever asking Dick to do the same. Still, Baird ... a.k.a. Dick Tracy ... was a fun character. He was snarky, slightly obnoxious, and too smart for his own good.

The weak element in the episode was the notion that a schlubby guy like "Intrigue" would be a womanizer with the skill to really land hot babes. Also that Sanchez would admire his technique! Really? However, I recall a disgusting New York City basic cable success called Ugly George, so anything is possible. But any shots at the misogynistic bent of guy TV -- in this case Slag TV -- is fair play. Tapped, the fictional "nail-the-chick" program, was disgusting -- just like Brenda said -- but hardly unique considering some of the reality fare currently on the air.

Brenda's ability to connive Dick Tracy into confessing -- by having him write up his report like a real L.A. detective -- turned out to be the key to saving Pope from public humiliation. She brilliantly played to his ego and employed Pope to do the good cop to her bad cop. The password, for instance, on the laptop was pure Dick Tracy -- crimestoppers. He could have kept that from Major Crimes, but it was more fun for him to share the info and hog the spotlight.

Pope and Brenda understanding each other and working so well in tandem, of course, was totally in keeping with The Closer vibe. So was Brenda's frank assessment to Will that every department in the L.A.P.D. lies to him all the time and that's what binds them together and helps them do their jobs. Everyone lies to the boss.

In addition to the dig at Spike TV, Paula Abdul, Homicide, P.I. and reality TV, I wonder if the presence of a pineapple was a nod to USA's detective show, PSYCH?

Finally, on the plus side, there was no mention of Kitty. While it was sweet to show Brenda's emotional reaction to losing her pet, anymore grieving would have been overdone.

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