While network TV hangs on to a series of bright spots, cable networks keep coming up with hits ("Rescue Me", "The Shield", etc.), the latest of which is "The Closer", a crime drama that nabbed star Kyra Sedgewick a Golden Globe nom for best actress in a drama. The show stars Sedgewick as CIA-trained interrogator Brenda Johnson, brought in to the LAPD by assistant Chief and former co-worker Will Pope (J.K. Simmons).
She's met with the expected resistance, as the officers take the new hire to be a knock against their ability and essentially make an attempt to force Johnson out. However, the intention is to have Johnson close up cases, as she has a remarkable rep for getting convictions. As the department has gained some bad press in the past, Johnson looks to be as good a solution as any to the problems that the PD has had in the past.
Although she manages to work her way into the ranks and begin to win over her co-workers, she still continues to meet some resistance, although it's played in a way that's believable and successfully creates conflict. Sedgewick has always remained an underrated actress and this series provides her a strong role, as Johnson is intelligent, driven and intimidating without being forceful. She's not without flaws, but the character is good at what she does.
The second season of the series sees the show more focused on the cases that Brenda and the team tackle, as the issue of her gaining the respect of her team was ironed out in the opening season. Some of the highlights of this second season include: "Mom Duty" (Johnson has to solve the case of a dead juror while also trying to juggle a visit from her mother), "To Protect and Serve" (Brenda, who's in charge of high-priority cases, takes a low-priority case when the crime scene is Provenza's garage), "Critical Missing" (Brenda must uncover the truth about a mother/daughter suicide case), "No Good Deed" (an investigation into the murder of a witness in a death-row appeal is complicated by Pope's ex-wife), "Overkill" (the season finale) and "Serving the King" (a 2-part episode - the second part directed by Sedgewick's husband, Kevin Bacon - that sees Sedgewick's character taking a job with the CIA.)
Sedgewick is backed up by a fine set of supporting actors, including Simmons ("Spider-Man"), Corey Reynolds as Sgt. David Gabriel and Robert Gossett as Captain Taylor. The actors have solid chemistry with each other and they work well in a series that moves briskly, but is often at least a bit more subdued and enjoyably old-fashioned than other shows in the genre.
14. 2- 1 12 Jun 06 Blue Blood
15. 2- 2 19 Jun 06 Mom Duty
16. 2- 3 26 Jun 06 Slippin'
17. 2- 4 3 Jul 06 Aftertaste
18. 2- 5 10 Jul 06 To Protect & To Serve
19. 2- 6 17 Jul 06 Out of Focus
20. 2- 7 24 Jul 06 Head Over Heels
21. 2- 8 31 Jul 06 Critical Missing
22. 2- 9 7 Aug 06 Heroic Measures
23. 2-10 14 Aug 06 The Other Woman
24. 2-11 21 Aug 06 Borderline
25. 2-12 28 Aug 06 No Good Deed
26. 2-13 4 Sep 06 Overkill
27. 2-14 4 Dec 06 Serving the King (Part I)
28. 2-15 4 Dec 06 Serving the King (Part II)
VIDEO: "The Closer" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen by Warner Brothers. The first season episodes were not presented in anamorphic widescreen, so it's nice to see that issue addressed on this second season release. Picture quality does see some improvements here, as while sharpness and detail were not outstanding, the presentation did at least appear smooth and crisp throughout most of the running time.
Some minor flaws did appear - a bit of light artifacting was seen and a few slight instances of edge enhancement were spotted. Otherwise, the picture looked clean and clear. Colors appeared accurately presented, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The episodes are presented with a stereo soundtrack that's just fine, delivering clear dialogue and sound effects.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes for many episodes, a gag reel (about 2 minutes) and the featurette, "Breaking Down The Closer". "Breaking Down the Closer" and the gag reel are on disc 1 - the case notes that they are on the second disc.
"Breaking Down The Closer" is a 25-minute documentary that provides a very good overview of the development of the series (TNT originally wanted a companion piece for "Law and Order") and production of the show. Sedgewick didn't even want a series in Los Angeles, but she liked the role enough that she decided to take it on. We also hear from the show's technical advisors, the cast and crew as they discuss the characters (and casting), stories and
Final Thoughts: A fine entry in a crowded genre, "The Closer" offers a terrific lead performance by Kyra Sedgewick. The DVD set is an improvement over the first season set, but hopefully future sets can offer more in the way of supplemental features. Recommended.