Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Major Crimes

Welcome back to Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday!

Today I’m jumping in with a TNT series that returned to TV this week—Major Crimes.

Following the conclusion of Brenda Leigh Johnson’s story in The Closer, Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) took the lead in Major Crimes.  Over the last few seasons of The Closer, we 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.  So how does 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 didn’t fit in right away with the others, but she’s growing on them and it’s just a matter of time before they accept her fully.

Captain Sharon Raydor

Monday nights will never be the same again without The Closer; but for what it’s worth, TNT is softening the blow with Major Crimes.  Raydor may not close cases 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 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).  At first, I thought this to be the third major difference between The Closer and Major Crimes.  However, as the series has progressed, I’ve changed my tune.  I love the comments and the interactions between the characters.  Just like I did with The Closer.

Oh, the sarcastic Raydor smile…

The new series has focused on developing the Raydor character and the show really has done a great job (of course, they had no choice; she had 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?

Which leads me to the next major difference between the two shows… the addition of Rusty Beck (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 (which she has done successfully) and protecting him while he awaits a trail in which he is scheduled to testify against a serial killer.  Rusty now 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… therefore, I’m awarding it with the MacTV rating.  I’m happy to see it back on the TV schedule and I can’t wait to watch the Rusty storyline unfold.

Rusty… the teenage boy who has been adopted by LA’s finest.

What do you think?  Have you checked out Major Crimes?  How do you feel it fares compared to The Closer?  I’d love to hear from you!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Tele-Tuesday: Major Crimes’ New Look

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.

Captain Sharon Raydor

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.

Oh, the sarcastic Raydor smile…

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!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Closing Cases with Southern Charm

This week, Amber West and I review two crime dramas on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday—the BBC’s Luther and TNT’s The Closer. 

The Closer follows Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) and the Major Case Squad as they solve L.A.’s worst crimes, while her FBI-agent/husband (Fritzy or Fritz Howard, played by Jon Tenney) provides his and the Bureau’s expertise to her team.

Brenda Leigh hails from the south, if not already evident by her accent, and has a very hard time hiding her emotions.  When she’s having a really bad day, she opens her desk drawer full of chocolate and digs in.  She possesses that southern charm we’ve grown to love over the years, and having been born and raised in Texas, I can personally attest to what Brenda Leigh actually means when she says, “Thank you, thank you very much.”  Kyra Sedgwick perfects the sarcasm so many southerners use in our daily vocabulary.

So how does a southern belle from Atlanta score the lead of an all-male major crime squad in Los Angeles?  Of course, there’s the fact that she had an affair with her boss way back in the day (Chief Pope, played by J.K. Simmons), but I’d like to think it’s because of her skills in the interrogation room—tactics that have proven to be better than anyone else, but that have also gotten her into a bit of trouble here and there.

Speaking of trouble… a few seasons ago, the L.A.P.D. issued a new mandate written in Brenda Leigh’s honor called The Johnson Rule, which states that no witness or suspect can be released from police custody without the proper protection if it is believed that his or her life may be in danger.  This came after Major Case, specifically Brenda Leigh, dropped a gang member suspected of murdering a local business man off in front of his house.  Moments later, an angry mob of other gang members waiting on the street killed him.  The murder led to a lawsuit against Brenda Leigh and the City of Los Angeles, thus the creation of The Johnson Rule, and Brenda Leigh’s constant shadowing by Captain Raydor (Mary McDonnell).

Regardless, Brenda Leigh has proven herself in case after case after case.  No one can convince a criminal to confess the way that Brenda Leigh can.

In addition to the drama, each show promises humor, and I find myself smiling at each episode’s end regardless of how gruesome their case.  Most of the fun centers on the interactions of her team: David Gabriel (Corey Reynolds), Louie Provenza (G.W. Bailey), Andy Flynn (Tony Denison), Michael Tao (Michael Paul Chan), Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz), Buzz (Phillip P. Keene), and Commander Taylor (Robert Gossett).

So why are we reviewing and recommending a show that just aired the first of its final six episodes this week?  Because in the age of the digital world and specifically Netflix, The Closer is definitely worthy of a marathon-style viewing party.  And with what we’ve seen over the past seven seasons, I fully expect these closing shows to go out with a BANG!

Brenda Leigh has faced many a foe in the past, but only one has escaped her grasp—lawyer, Philip Stroh (played by Billy Burke).  She has already been ordered by Chief Pope to drop all investigations into the alleged rapist, but those of us who know Brenda Leigh know she’s not going to stop until she gets her man.  This may cost our favorite Deputy Chief her job—and with only five episodes left, maybe that’s exactly what will happen—but politics have never stopped her before… so why would they now?

Get him, Brenda!!

And let me just say the scenes between Burke and Sedgwick are intense—some of the best tension on television today.  I felt similar about the cat and mouse game between Sedgwick and Jason O’Mara (arsonist Bill Croelick) in seasons one and four.

Despite the fact The Closer will not be airing new episodes much longer, I can’t help but award the GTV rating to Brenda Leigh and her team—grill a filet; bake a potato; steam some veggies; and open a glass of Champagne—relish all of the flavors of your meal and The Closer characters at the same time.

I will miss the drama of the Major Case’s cases; I will miss the goofiness of Provenza and Flynn; I will miss the dry humor of Sanchez; I will miss the wittiness of Tao; I will miss Gabriel’s trying to keep everyone in line; I will miss Buzz and his electronic equipment;  I will miss Pope’s and Taylor’s tendencies to only cover their own butts; I will miss Brenda Leigh’s ability to close; and, lastly, I will miss Brenda Leigh and Fritzy—one of the best love affairs on television today.

The way Fritzy “gets” Brenda Leigh just melts my heart every time…

However, most of these characters and character’s traits won’t be missed for long…

Following the conclusion of Brenda Leigh’s story, Captain Raydor takes 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’ve also witnessed a softer Captain Raydor who has stood by Brenda Leigh and done 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 returns for the new series, including Provenza, Flynn, Tao, Sanchez, Buzz, Taylor, and even Fritzy on occasion.

So, here’s to The Closer *lifts Champagne glass*.  We will miss you and will forever recommend you to our readers…

What do you think? Do you watch The Closer?  How would you rate it?  Who’s your favorite character?  Do you plan to watch the spin-off later this summer?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about the BBC’s Luther.  You know Amber loves her British television series…

Come back next week when Amber and I review something…  it’s summer time and the heat is taking a toll on our planning ahead.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

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