Yes, lie detector tests may come in handy when trying to spot the holes in a suspect's alibi, however as we discover in the fifth season of TNT's wildly popular award-winning series The Closer, the ability for the police to lie while trying to interrogate a possible perpetrator may be even more important.
Whether Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) is telling a man she has witnesses who claim they saw a body being dragged from a building in the wee small hours of the morning or she's playing two villains off on one another, nobody is better at bluffing, fibbing, and refusing to lay her actual cards on the table than the Deputy Chief of L.A.'s Major Crimes Division.
And although seeing her in action rattling off one lie after another is alarming on the job to her F.B.I. agent husband Fritz, for the loyal team with whom she cleans up the grisliest cases day after day it's just business as usual as the fifth season finds the squad in the midst of serial killings, gang shootouts, cases of mistaken identity, cold cases turned hot, and even a body that is sent Cash on Delivery right to Major Crimes.
Throughout, Brenda's outwardly feminine southern belle politeness masks her ruthless determination to solve the most heinous cases. And some of the strongest episodes of the season find her routinely butting heads with the equally headstrong Internal Affairs investigator Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) whenever there's a police involved shooting, including one that found two officers dead in the line of duty and another's allegedly abusive spouse being shot dead.
Likewise, the Chief's loyalties to her family are tested when Brenda and Fritz must play guardian to her unruly teenager niece, despite the fact that she realizes that the girl can come in handy as Brenda's not above using a relative to try to solve a pair of dangerous cases.
Needless to say there's plenty of action to be found in this four-disc, fifteen episode set even if we quickly learn that we wouldn't want to be anywhere near Brenda when she's off the job as her largely neglected and ignored husband can attest. Yet it's fascinating to watch the way everything just clicks into place at the department, irregardless of the fact that given the show's roughly forty-two minute running time, it's therefore fairly easy to figure out exactly who the killer is long before Major Crimes does.
While the writers plant some clues in plain sight making it slightly irksome when the series experts can't seem to add them up, the show is particularly effective when it adds in an unpredictable element to break up the police procedural formula. This decision to break up the monotony can be found on a number of levels from bringing in a delusional witness who is convinced he's a detective to a few unexpected twists when a retired former partner of Provenza's returns as a woman rather than a man.
Additionally remembering that the show is nothing without its routinely Emmy and Golden Globe nominated star, from testing Brenda's emotional side after a school shooting to deciding whether or not solving a crime is more important than making sure the punishment fits when debating whether to hand over a serial killer to Texas authorities, the fifth season offers Sedgwick plenty of opportunities to shine.
And despite the fact that I like the performance better than the character and the series overall, in the season's superior episodes including “Tapped Out,” “Strike Three,” “Identity Theft,” “Maternal Instincts,” “Waivers of Extradition,” “Make Over,” and “Dead Man's Hand,” it's easy to see that unlike Brenda, the ratings don't lie in illustrating why this show continues to attract such a following of those looking for something distinctly different in their cops and criminals fare.
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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.
Labels: TV on DVD