Brenda Leigh Johnson
(S05E15) I can't believe we're already at the end of the season for The Closer. Alas, it's true. Until next summer, this is it for Brenda and Fritz and the Major Crime Unit. Fortunately, they saved a good one for the finale. Has Brenda been so hip-deep in work that she's neglected the important things in life? That seemed to be one of the concerns, as well as the fun of dealing with someone who -- at best -- is a thorn in Chief Johnson's side. For all that and more, jump to the next page and tell Joel the cat he's not allowed on the table.
Perhaps it didn't happen exactly that way, but here was a show in which a gifted actor was presented a wonderful opportunity and he rose to the occasion. The Closer is one of those procedurals that has a deft touch with the comic episodes. Oh yeah, there are occasions when it gets a little bizarre -- and this episode might have gone there but it didn't. Instead, we had a terrific twist in more ways than one.
We also got to see how adorable Kyra Sedgwick looks in a hot pink ski parka. For more on the wardrobe and the old folks getting killed by the faux nurse, read on.
The fine art of interrogation may seem lost thanks to suspects lawyering up and the Miranda warning. Whatever happened to the days when a snarling cop could throw a perp against a brick wall to get him to squeal? Or a sly questioner could finagle a confession by laying on a guilt trip? Still, there are some very clever, brilliant interrogators plying their trade on these days. In fact, when you look at these eight interrogators, you'll probably agree that they know just how to get to the truth. Here are the eight top interrogators on TV today:
8. Captain James Brass, CSI
Brass is the most "old school" of all these interrogators. He's like Andy Sipowicz from NYPD Blue, only without the violence. Brass talks to suspects with a modicum of respect, but a healthy cynicism. He's seen it all and knows the truth is in there somewhere. He asks questions and waits for them to trip themselves up. When they do, he has them write it down. Despite the laconic attitude, Brass has the brass to get the job done.
For a time, it looked like Brenda and Major Crimes were on the trail of a ninja. No, not a real ninja, but a guy dressed all in black who kind of looked like a ninja. He used a blade, albeit a knife, and he was a stone cold killer who showed no mercy and seemed to take pleasure in the kill.
(S05E11) After last week's show, it was great to see The Closer bounce back with a particularly strong episode. The case itself wasn't overly complicated or multi-layered, as some Major Crimes are, but that's probably because Brenda literally wandered into this one. And she wasn't alone. Charlie, her niece from Atlanta, was in the car. More on the Brenda/Charlie relationship as well as the case, after the jump.
(S05E10) One of the reasons The Closer is a good show is that it's smart. It presents challenging situations and complicated crimes, and as Brenda and her crew figure out what happened and how to get the guilty to incriminate themselves, the viewer is along for the ride. The title of tonight's show was Smells Like Murder. I think the subhead should have been, smells like a dud.
There was a good premise, a decent set up, suspects that were interesting ... all the elements were there. What went wrong was character. Things happened that were so out of character that it sunk the entire episode. More on that -- and Jack in the box -- after the jump.
(S05E08) When I say that a lot of this episode of The Closer felt like a CSI episode, with the emphasis on the gory and gruesome aspects of original murder, I'm not being critical. And when I mention there were also elements that reminded of Cold Case, that's also not a diss because Cold Case is an underrated show.
But unlike Cold Case, which brings the past to life, The Closer remained very much in the present. Generally speaking, this was a pretty strong episode that played up Brenda's vulnerability.
(S05E06) 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?
(S05E04) After an intense, heavy-duty The Closer last week, it was probably a wise move to roll out a lighter episode. That's what this show was, a change of pace with some insight into the delicate dance that makes Fritz and Brenda's relationship work.
The decision to not work together since they're not married was news to me. But Fritz had an ulterior motive in getting Major Crimes into the case of missing person Austin Blair. The motive was not just to distract Brenda Leigh from her grief of losing Kitty, but at first that seemed to be his intent.
The emotional impact was intense when the Priority Homicide team arrived at the crime scene to find four dead bodies, two of them pre-teen children. Flynn was hot under the collar immediately, ready to prejudge the man of the house who had opportunity and possible motive in the quadruple killing.
(S04E11) "It's what you do. When you're a hammer, everything in the world looks like a nail." -- Pope to Brenda
Did you notice, as I did, that Brenda was more distressed and unfocused while making decisions for the wedding than she was working on the case? By the end of the episode, Brenda finally settled on the when, the where and the how, so all things considered, it was a good day for Brenda...except for that little thing that happened to Daddy.
Meanwhile, returning after a few months off, the cliffhanger was resolved early on and priority homicide was back at work. However, when is an apparent suicide not a suicide? More on that and the cliffhanger after the jump. Also, Clay Johnson.
When I look back at the 2006 television landscape, a few key characters come to mind. This year, I discovered some new characters that have my adoration and I've stuck close to the ones I loved from 2005. Here's my list of the Best Characters of 2006:
5. Michael Scott, The Office While it's no secret that I adore a certain member of the supporting cast, the best character on The Office is definitely Michael. He sucks the fun out of any situation by making everybody uncomfortable, but at least you know what his true colors are. He tries, and does a poor job of covering up his non-P.C. thoughts such as, "How queer! (sees camera) Queer Eye for the Straight Guy-- that's a great show!" He just tries so hard to get people to like him and to be a buddy rather than a boss that you can't help but love/pity the guy. And Jim's right, Michael is the most loyal guy at Dunder Mifflin.
The Thanksgiving marathon is in preparation for a new, two-hour episode that airs December 4th. In it, Brenda is called upon by the CIA to assist in an "off-the-record investigation of a would-be defector found murdered in Los Angeles." Johnson has to find a link between the death of a KGB agent, several CIA agents, a young terror suspect and 20 pounds of missing plutonium. The second hour of that episode, called Serving the King, is directed by star Sedgwick's husband, Kevin Bacon.
Also, following the special, two-hour event, season two of The Closer will air every Tuesday night at 10 pm starting on December 5th.
TV Squad reader Bill Pruett asks 'What's with The Closer? There have been a few episodes than . . . nada. I can't even find a web site for the show. Will it ever get on some sort of regular schedule?'
Actually, Bill, The Closer is on a regular schedule. It is a summer series for TNT that normally begins in June and runs for about 15 episodes. So, you won't see it on a fall schedule, unless it's in repeats. The good news is that it has been renewed for another season, which will begin in the summer of 2007.
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