Closing The Closer: Now That’s What I Call a Finale

Remember back in the day when Brenda Leigh Johnson first arrived at the LAPD? The pretty, dainty Southern belle was put in charge of alternately crusty, macho, and skeptical officers whom she would have to supervise. And, she was put in the position by a man who used to be her married lover. In other words, The Closer was an excellent example of the kind of detective shows television does so well, that of the intrepid investigator whom everyone underestimates.

Of course, as with all of those other detectives (Columbo, Monk,) Brenda had a hidden superpower; she could get almost anyone to confess, almost every time.

The show built on this premise, and also traded on star Kyra Sedgwick’s steel magnolia presence. That, combined with a stellar cast that generated chemistry in every direction, made The Closer one of the shining stars of basic cable and gave Sedgwick’s career a second wind.

But after seven short seasons, The Closer had its finale. And unlike so many shows, this finale was satisfying; both brutal and sentimental in just the right measure, reflecting the hard-hitting, occasionally hilarious show itself.

Brenda had been getting in trouble for quite a while with her bending and sometimes breaking of the law in order to close her cases. She had also undergone various personal traumas such as the death of her mother and the apparent betrayal by someone on her team. That, coupled with her inability to close that one troublesome case-the slick lawyer-rapist whose sociopathic brilliance had plagued Brenda for years-and it was time to go out in a blaze of glory.

The conclusion made sense and left just enough loose ends hanging to continue into the new show, Major Crimes starring Mary McDonnell. (See review below.) Though I’ll miss the cast and characters, this was a good time and place to end it. At least it didn’t hang around until well past its ‘best if used by’ date, unlike so many TV shows (House and The X-Files, I’m looking at you.)

And at least no one of the major characters had to die to satisfy some rule of finales where you sacrifice one of your major players to make some point about ‘the cost of crime,’ or something. The new show is set up in such a way that fans of the old show can imagine Brenda raising hell at the DA’s office with stalwart David Gabriel at her side, trying to curb her more ruthless instincts. And there could be guest spots. (Sedgwick has said it’s likely to happen.)

I give The Closer finale a solid 5 out of 5 stars.

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MAJOR CRIMES–A WORTHY SUCCESSOR?
Mary McDonnell has all kinds of goodwill from me for her portrayal of schoolteacher cum president of the human race Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica. Also Passion Fish, Dances With Wolves, Sneakers, and well, just about every thing she’s ever done. I was thrilled with her guest spots on The Closer last year as Sharon Raydor, foil and then friend to Chief Johnson. Somewhere along the line, the decision was made to ease Raydor into the Chief’s chair and build the new show Major Crimes around her.

They were smart to not try to replace Brenda Leigh with someone else who could close cases but instead, are going in a new direction, one where Raydor gets the best plea-bargain possible.

Well, okay. It’s not as gripping a premise, and it will be difficult to pull off the fish-out-of-water having to win over the crusty old detectives that she’ll be supervising-again. I already miss Brenda Leigh and Gabriel. It remains to be seen if Provenza and Flynn, who were so good as the jester sidekicks on The Closer, will hold up under more scrutiny.

But the pilot episode wasn’t bad and I’m certainly willing to give this cast and crew another chance. And yeah, did I mention Mary McDonnell?

You can re-watch the pilot on Comcast On Demand as well as catch rebroadcasts on TNT and TNT online. If you like The Closer, check out Major Crimes, Mondays on TNT.

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