A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I would return to my thoughts about TNT’s The Closer spinoff. Today is that day…
Following the conclusion of Brenda Leigh’s story, Captain Raydor took the lead in Major Crimes. For the past few seasons, we’ve tolerated Captain Raydor while she terrorized Brenda Leigh, leading all of the officer-involved investigations (kind of like Internal Affairs). But we also witnessed a softer Captain Raydor who stood by Brenda Leigh and did everything in her power to protect the Deputy Chief. How will Captain Raydor do leading Brenda Leigh’s team?
That’s right—almost the entire cast of The Closer returned for the new series. I said almost… this is the first major difference between the two shows. Besides losing Brenda Leigh, obviously, the team also lost David Gabriel (Corey Reynolds) and we haven’t seen the recently promoted Chief of Police (Chief Pope, played by J.K. Simmons).
Once a TV series loses a character, it usually makes sense to replace that role. Enter Kearran Giovanni as Detective Amy Sykes, the newest member of the Major Crimes unit. As expected, Detective Sykes ruffled the feathers of a few of the veterans on her way to her new position… especially Louie Provenza (G.W. Bailey). But that could be because Detective Provenza was already bothered by Raydor’s promotion, since he had been leading the team in the interim. It could also be Detective Sykes’ eagerness and her constant over-reaching and jumping in where she doesn’t belong. Either way, her abrupt nature isn’t fitting in with the others just yet, but she’s growing on them and it’s just a matter of time before they accept her.
As of last night, I’ve watched three episodes and I stand behind my earlier statement that my Monday nights will never be the same again without The Closer; but for what it’s worth, TNT is softening the blow. Raydor (Mary McDonnell) may not close like Brenda Leigh, no one ever will for that matter; but what Brenda mastered in closing a case and prying a confession out of her suspect, Raydor will match in her ability to settle the case—saving Los Angeles a ton of money (the second major difference between the two TV shows).
How will our favorite group of detectives handle their new leader’s style? Once again, Provenza doesn’t like it in the least. None of them really do, but he’s the most likely to speak out against Raydor. But there is nothing he can do; the Major Crimes unit is to work with the District Attorney’s office every step of the way in trying to skip the courtroom and walk the criminals directly to their prison cells—Chief’s orders.
In an earlier post, I also mentioned that in addition to the drama, The Closer episodes promised humor, and I found myself smiling at each episode’s end regardless of how gruesome their case. Most of the fun centered around the interactions of the team: Gabriel, Provenza, Andy Flynn (Tony Denison), Michael Tao (Michael Paul Chan), Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz), Buzz (Phillip P. Keene), and Commander Taylor (now Assistant Chief, played by Robert Gossett). So far, this is the third major difference between The Closer and Major Crimes as far as I’m concerned. While there may be a comment or an interaction that brings a smile to my face, it happens a lot less often in Major Crimes.
For now, I believe this is because the show is focusing on developing the Raydor character—they have no choice; she has some really tough shoes to fill. Initially, The Closer fans didn’t like her; but the writers and creators slowly began to appeal to the viewers with a softer Raydor—a Raydor that even Brenda Leigh started to like. I mean, let’s be real; if Brenda Leigh likes her, so will Brenda Leigh’s fans… right? But Raydor is still no Brenda Leigh, and her character needs to be developed just a little bit more for us to fully fall head-over-heels for her like we did our favorite southern Deputy Chief.
Which leads me to the fourth major difference between the two shows… the addition of Rusty (played by Graham Patrick Martin), a homeless teen who was left with no other choice than turning to prostitution in order to survive. Brenda Leigh initially discovered Rusty working her final case for the LAPD; but in her departure, Raydor has now stepped in and promised to continue Brenda Leigh’s work searching for Rusty’s mother. In the meantime, Rusty lives with Raydor and the viewers slowly see the maternal side of Raydor kicking in. She’s not just a ball-buster, she’s a mother.
It’s no Closer, but Major Crimes still has the characters I’ve grown to love over the years. Raydor may not be Brenda Leigh, and she has a long way to go to establish herself on the same level in my opinion, but I’m not giving up. Major Crimes is definitely worthy of a watch… even if this isn’t one of my Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday posts.
What do you think? Have you checked out Major Crimes? How do you feel it fares compared to The Closer? Do you think the spinoff is headed in the right direction? I’d love to hear from you!