In June of 2005, a new drama called The Closer started to air on the cable network TNT. The show was very well liked, both by fans and critics, and became very popular. I didn’t see the show when it first aired even though I was very interested in it. I was able to watch the episodes when TNT aired them again starting in January of 2006. Later that year, I picked up The Closer: The Complete First Season on DVD. The second season started to air in June of 2006 and I was able to see the episodes. I picked up The Closer - The Complete Second Season once it was released.
I am going to share some background type of information about The Closer before I get into talking specifically talking about the second season. Some of what I will be discussing in this review will connect back to the first season and would be spoilers for people who haven’t watched it yet. I do think it would be best if that season is watched first.
The Closer follows the Priority Murder Squad, a special unit within the Los Angeles police department, and cases they investigate. The unit was formed after several high profile cases were sent to the DA with evidence that wasn’t strong enough for convictions. The chief of police decided to hire someone from outside the LAPD to run the unit. Brenda Johnson had worked with the CIA and the police departments in Washington D.C. and Atlanta before being hired to run the unit. She was a very good interrogator who had a reputation for getting confessions that would stand up in court.
In addition to dealing with different cases, the first season spent time dealing with the resentment that Brenda faced from other officers on the force. Captain Taylor, from robbery/homicide division, felt he should be in charge of the new unit and he, as well as Detective Andy Flynn, were extremely hostile to Brenda. She slowly won the admiration and loyalty of her unit even though the way she did her job aggravated them, including Assistant Chief Will Pope at times. Brenda and Will had worked together and even had a relationship in the past. That did complicate their current working relationship as well as Brenda’s new relationship with Fritz Howard, an FBI agent.
When the second season started, Brenda and her team were working very well together. She had earned their respect and loyalty, even from Flynn. Brenda went out on a limb for Flynn and Provenza in To Protect & to Serve. Commander Taylor - he’d managed to weasel his way into a promotion - acted better toward Brenda overall. He wasn’t hostile to her anymore, maybe because he was no longer threatened by her. He still didn’t particularly like her though. I really liked seeing how well the team was working together after how things had started off.
Each episode featured a different murder for Brenda and her team to investigate. The murders did add a bit of mystery. Brenda and her team were shown working on the cases doing things like interviewing witnesses or suspects and following leads. Most of the time there were things that just didn’t seem to add up. Then Brenda and the team would start digging, slowing unraveling the clues to piece everything together. I was surprised several times by how things worked out. The way the cases were concluded did make sense even if they weren’t always the ending I would have liked to have seen. I did like that Brenda showed her frustration when an assistant D.A. said he wasn’t going to prosecute because he thought he couldn’t win at trial and he didn’t go to trail with cases he wasn’t going to win. The cases were handled within one episode and previous cases usually weren’t mentioned in later episodes. The one exception was with Overkill, the thirteenth episode. It ended with a bit of a cliffhanger and certain things related to it were brought up in episode fourteen, Serving the King, Parts 1 and 2.
There were a few subplots that did progress from episode to episode. Things connected to Brenda’s personal life, mostly with her relationship with Fritz built throughout the season. There wasn’t a lot of emphasis placed on it, but it was clear that it was important. Brenda was happy with Fritz, but she still had some trouble adjusting to a committed relationship, including Fritz moving in. She had a tendency to blame him for things at home that weren’t really his fault. Fritz loved her but he did get frustrated with her at times. I liked seeing Brenda and Fritz continuing to adjust to the new things in their relationship. It was entertaining to see how Brenda dealt with certain things, like when she had an attack of jealousy when a female co-worker left a message for Fritz. Kitty, the cat that Brenda ended up taking care in the first season, was still around. Brenda still called Kitty he even though she knew the cat was female. I liked seeing how much Brenda cared for Kitty. I did wonder where the kittens were since they weren’t around and there was no mention of them.
The other main subplot that ran over the course of the season related to Will and his wife Estelle getting divorced. That was brought up in several different episodes and caused a lot of complications. He pulled Brenda into the mess by asking her to serve as a character witness so he could get custody of the children. That blew up in her face when Estelle’s lawyer went after her because of their previous relationship even though Estelle had been having an affair during the marriage. In another episode, Estelle also made it clear to everyone on Brenda’s team - plus a few others - that Brenda and Will had been involved previously. Brenda was somehow oblivious to the fact that Will still had feelings for her and seemed to be hoping to start up their relationship again. Fritz was very aware of that, which added some stress to their relationship as well as tension between the two men. Since so much related to the characters was happening in every episode, things would be missed if some episodes weren’t watched.
Crime scenes were featured in every episode, usually right at the beginning with the opening credits intermingled in the scene. Since The Closer airs on a cable station, the show can get away with showing more than it would be able to if it were on a regular broadcast network. Many of the murders were brutal, and it wasn’t pleasant to see the bodies. Certain things that were shown will probably be too graphic or gory for some viewers. Once again, some scenes took place during autopsies or at least in the morgue right after an autopsy. Those scenes tended to be a bit gross. For the most part, there wasn’t a lot of actual violence included in the episodes since the murders all took place off camera. There was a small amount of violence in a few episodes.
Even though The Closer was a serious show overall, every episode included at least a little bit of humor that did lighten the mood briefly. Brenda continued to say and do things that made me laugh. It was just the way she would react to certain things, like when she was really irritated with Flynn and Provenza, that tended to make me laugh. It was really funny and entertaining to see how Brenda went into panic mode when her mother came to visit. Flynn and Provenza also tended to add humor. They had a way of bantering with each other that was funny even in more serious circumstances.
Every episode featured the same group of returning main characters, most of which I do really like. I still don’t like Commander Taylor even though he wasn’t plotting on how to get Brenda fired anymore. It just seemed like he still wanted to be in charge of the unit and would happily do anything to make that happen. There were a few more minor returning characters, like the medical examiner played by James Avery. I don’t thing his name has even been shared. In addition to the returning characters, there were new characters in each episode as well. Those characters were somehow connected to the investigations either as witnesses, suspects, or relatives of the victims.
Brenda continued to be the main character through the second season and she’s the most developed character overall. She has an aggressive work style that does rub several people the wrong way. Her team has gotten use to her style so she didn’t have to deal with the same conflicts there. Brenda was very good at her job, and she would get so focused on cases that her private life suffered. Brenda had a huge sweet tooth that she was still trying to control. During the first few episodes, she had cut out sugar which didn’t really work like she had hoped. Brenda had flaws, which made her more realistic. Kyra Sedgwick was very good in the part.
Fritz was around at least briefly in every episode. He used his connections to help Brenda’s investigations at times. Fritz did get annoyed with Brenda, usually when she put her work ahead of their relationship but he never stopped loving her. Their relationship was important without becoming the main focus of the show. They had moved their relationship forward and Fritz moved in, which caused Brenda some new anxieties, especially when her mother came to visit. Frances Sternhagen was very good in the part. She and Sedgwick interacted very well together and were believable as a mother and daughter.
Will Pope, the assistant chief, was still Brenda’s boss and was at least briefly in every episode. He did back up Brenda most of the time though he didn’t always agree with her. Will was going through a lot with his divorce and it did seem like he had been hoping to start up the relationship with Brenda again. Will pulled Brenda into a huge mess by convincing her to act as a character witness for him. J.K. Simmons handled the part very well. Will’s soon to be ex-wife Estelle was mentioned several times before she made her one appearance. She was being very vindictive in the divorce even though she had been the one having an affair. She was not a nice woman.
The other characters really weren’t as developed and there wasn’t much known about them away from their jobs. David Gabriel had gotten over his initial dislike of Brenda to really like and respect her. She depended on him a lot and he always supported her. The two had developed a good working relationship. He no longer felt like he was caught between Brenda and Commander Taylor. Corey Reynolds was very good in the part. Irene Daniels was the only woman on Brenda’s team. She was very good at her job and worked well with the rest of the men. The only personal life thing that became known about her during the season was that she and David started to date. The relationship was mentioned a few times without it really being shown.
Andy Flynn had been extremely hostile to Brenda when she first took over the squad and he had been working with Commander Taylor to try to sabotage her in some way. As he worked with her, his attitude slowly changed until he became loyal to her. His attitude made it seem like he didn’t care about his work at times, but he was good at it. He didn’t always make the smartest decisions though. He enjoyed bickering with Provenza whenever possible. Provenza had been on the force for long time and didn’t seem to like to exert a lot of energy. He had several ex-wives and he had issues about people putting stuff on his desk. I really liked the way that Provenza and Flynn interacted with each other.
Commander Taylor had a bit of an attitude change once he’d wormed his way into a promotion. He was more willing to work with Brenda and he was no longer actively trying to sabotage her. That didn’t mean that he wouldn’t have happily taken over the squad if he had the chance. I still don’t like the character and think he is just waiting for the right time to try to go after Brenda again. Mike Tao continued to do a lot of computer related research during the investigations. He had a lot of knowledge that was frequently useful. Sanchez was in every episode though I don’t think he was as developed as the others. Buzz was in charge of the video equipment for the interrogation rooms, so he was usually shown at least once in every episode.
G.W. Bailey - Detective Lt. Provenza
Michael Paul Chan - Lieutenant Mike Tao
Raymond Cruz - Detective Julio Sanchez
Tony Denison - Detective Andy Flynn
Robert Gossett - Commander Taylor
Phillip P. Keene - Buzz
Gina Ravera - Detective Irene Daniels
Kyra Sedgwick - Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson
J.K. Simmons - Assistant Police Chief Will Pope
Jon Tenney - Agent Fritz Howard
The Closer - The Complete Second Season is now available on DVD. The set contains four DVDs that are in two thin plastic cases. On the outside of the cases is a listing of the episodes and a very brief plot summary. It was also indicated in the list which of the episodes had unaired scenes. There were also two other extras on the set. The gag reel was funny to watch though it wasn’t very long. The featurette Breaking Down The Closer was very interesting. It featured interviews with the cast and some writers and producers talking about the show. Many of the characters were discussed. Kyra Sedgewick talked about her decision to take the part and she shared her thoughts on Brenda.
Episodes with an * after them have unaired scenes
Mom Duty *
To Protect & to Serve
Out of Focus *
Head Over Heels
Critical Missing *
The Other Woman
No Good Deed *
Serving the King, Part 1
Serving the King, Part 2 *
The Closer - The Complete Second Season is a DVD set worth picking up for fans of the show. I did like that there were a few more extras included with this season. People that enjoy police shows should give this one a chance.
The third season of The Closer began airing on TNT on June 18, 2007. The show is on at 9:00 PM EST on Monday nights. Full episodes can be viewed from TNT’s website, www.tnt.tv. The section of the site for The Closer has information about the show as well as a few games.
The Closer: The Complete First Season ~ The Closer - The Complete Third Season ~ The Closer: The Complete Fourth Season ~
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