In the last several years, some of the cable networks that previously only aired older shows in syndication or movies started to make their own shows. Some of those shows have been very good while others were fairly bad. TNT started to air The Closer in June of 2005 and the show quickly became a favorite of fans and critics. I picked up The Closer: The Complete First Season and The Closer: The Complete Second Season once the DVD sets were released. I recently finished watching the episodes in The Closer - The Complete Third Season.
Before I specifically talk about things connected to The Closer - The Complete Third Season, I want to share a bit of background information on the series in general. Some of what I mention would be spoilers for people who haven't watched the first two seasons yet.
The Closer is focused on Brenda Johnson and her division, the Priority Murder Squad, in the Los Angeles police department. The unit was formed to handle high profile murder cases after some higher high profile cases had been sent to trial with weak evidence. It was decided to hire someone from outside the department which caused a lot of bad feelings. Brenda Johnson had worked for the CIA as well as the Washington, D.C. and Atlanta police departments. She was known for getting confessions that would stand up in court.
The first season introduced Brenda and the other members of her unit as well as other returning characters. She faced a lot of resentment when she started, especially from Captain Taylor. He was in charge of robbery/homicide and felt that he should have been in charge of the new unit. The officers in the unit didn't care for Brenda at first, but she slowly won them all over and they were working very well together by the time the second season started. She frequently aggravated assistant chief of police Will Pope, a man she had worked and been intimately involved with in the past. That did cause some complications on the job as well as in Brenda's new relationship with FBI agent Fritz Howard.
Once again, the episodes in the third season focused on a different investigation that Brenda and her team were working on. The investigations were almost always murders, but they did work on a missing child case at one point as well. The cases did provide some mystery to the episodes and I usually didn't figure out things before they were revealed in the show. Brenda and her team were shown working on every case, sometimes out questioning suspects, and other times doing different things at the police station. Except for the two part episodes, the cases were concluded by the end of each episode. Most of the times, the previous cases weren't brought up again but a few previous cases were mentioned once or twice. Those things won't make sense to people who haven't seen the previous seasons of the show.
Crime scenes were featured in all of the episodes. Frequently they were shown at the very beginning of the show with the opening credits intermingled into the scene. Those scenes weren't pleasant to see, with some of them being a bit more graphic than others. Since The Closer airs on a cable network, it can show things that don't normally make it into shows on the major networks. The bodies of all the victims were shown, and some of them were rather gory since the murders were brutal. That might upset or bother some viewers. Some of the things shown were a bit disturbing and not at all pleasant to see. There were scenes with the coroner during some of the episodes, though noting too gory was shown during those scenes. There was some violence in episodes, though it wasn't that graphic or extreme for the most part.
The Closer was a serious show overall, but there was a lot of humor added in throughout the episodes. Brenda said and did things and had a way of looking at things that added humor. I thought a lot of humor was added when Brenda's parents came to visit, especially with how her father was teasing Fritz about different things. Flynn and Provenza continued to bicker with each other and that almost always made me laugh. There were several things in Saving Face that I found funny. It was really funny how the bride went after Brenda and how Commander Taylor reacted later.
In addition to the different plots for each episode, there were some plots that carried through the entire series. The police department in general was facing budget issues that was requiring a cut back on overtime and all departments were supposed to lose one member. Brenda had no intention of losing any member of her team and she felt the no overtime rule was also not good because murders didn't always happen during specific hours. I do think she had a point there, especially since when her squad was called in, there was usually a desire for the case to be closed as quickly as possible. The budget issues did cause conflict between Brenda and Will. A resolution to at least some of the problem was figured out, though no one wanted to fully explain it to Brenda which caused another issue or two. The budget problems did seem to be very realistic.
Brenda has been seeing Fritz since the first season even though she seems to struggle with relationship issues. During the second season, Fritz moved into her house and most of his stuff got crammed into the garage because the house wasn't big enough for his stuff too. Brenda had agreed to look for a bigger place with him, but she was dragging her feet a bit in looking and in listing her house. The house hunt did pop up during several of the episodes. The other main story line that carried through several episodes had to do with Brenda's health. At first it just seemed like she had a cold and a weird reaction to cold medicine, but things weren't getting better. She kept putting off going to a doctor, but she did eventually go. For the second year in a row, an extra two part episode was made that aired in December. This one, Next of Kin, was set at Christmas time. It was interesting to see Brenda try to deal with the holiday and a case.
Relationships in general were important to what was going on in The Closer. Brenda started off being very disliked by everyone in the unit and she managed to win them over. Now they are all very loyal to her and each other. They have good working relationships and are almost like a family. Brenda even came close to saying that herself during one of the later episodes of this season. Flynn and Provenza had an interesting friendship that involved a lot of bickering. David Gabriel and Irene Daniels, two of the members of the unit, were dating. Not much was mentioned about that, though it did come out during one of the episodes. Fritz and Brenda still had some conflicts at times, usually because of Brenda having some issues with relationships. Fritz got really annoyed with her at times, but it was clear he loved her. She did take him for granted sometimes and would blame him for things he had no control over. Brenda's relationship with her parents also was focused on a few times.
Brenda is a very strong, independent woman who is very good at her job. She struggles with personal relationships including friendships and even her relationship with her parents. Her work style does irritate people at times, but she does get the job done. She could be a bit hard on the people she is interrogating, but that was her style. She still called her female cat he. She loved chocolate and other sweets but could no longer have them. Kyra Sedgwick continued to be wonderful in the part. I liked that Brenda's mother Willie Ray was back, this time with her husband Clay. Frances Sternhagen and Barry Corbin were very good in the parts.
Fritz was in every episode at least briefly. He is important to Brenda, but he usually doesn't play a large part in the episodes. He does end up involved in her investigations at times. There was something new about Fritz shared during the season that was slightly surprising, especially the way Brenda learned about it. I'm thinking there is still some mystery with his character. Jon Tenney was really good in the part. Will Pope was Brenda's boss. He would usually back her up, though he didn't always agree with her and was annoyed by how she handled some investigations. It seemed pretty clear that he wanted to start something up with Brenda again despite her being happy with Fritz. J. K. Simmons is very good in the part.
Not as much was known about the other characters outside of their jobs. David Gabriel seemed sort of like Brenda's second in command much of the time and even talked about having aspirations outside of the force. He and Brenda clashed over a few cases, including one where he went over the line, which did damage their relationship. Corey Reynolds was good in the part. Irene Daniels remained the only woman that was part of Brenda's unit. She tended to deal with a lot of the financial things that needed looked at during investigations. She was good at her job and worked well with the others. The only personal thing that was shared about her was that she was dating David. She was missing from a few episodes, so Gina Ravera didn't have as much to do as some of the others.
I had thought that Andy Flynn was a huge jerk during most of the first season. He still acted like one sometimes, but his attitude was much better. He was actually good at his job, though sometimes he didn't seem to want to put in as much effort. He could be very opinionated, and he wouldn't hesitate to share his views with the others. He, along with Provenza, didn't always make the smartest decisions. The two of them caused complications at times because of that. They did have an interesting friendship. Provenza had been a cop for a long time, had no interest in retiring, and had several ex-wives. I still do not remember ever hearing his first name.
Mike Tao did a lot of work on computers for the investigations, getting phone records and different things like that. The man was very intelligent and his knowledge did prove useful more than once. Julio Sanchez was always around, though he still didn't seem as developed as the others. He had a lot of knowledge about the gangs in the area. Buzz worked the video equipment for the interrogation rooms. For this season, he had started to show up at crime scenes to make videos that would be used in court. Commander Taylor was acting better toward Brenda overall but I still don't like him that much. He was very ticked off when a case his division had been working on for months was given to Brenda. I still get the impression that he would love to take over the unit. Taylor did resort to questionable actions a few times to get results.
G.W. Bailey - Detective Lt. Provenza
Michael Paul Chan - Lieutenant Mike Tao
Barry Corbin - Clay Johnson
Raymond Cruz - Detective Julio Sanchez
Tony Denison - Detective Andy Flynn
Robert Gossett - Commander Taylor
Philip P. Keene - Buzz
Gina Ravera - Detective Irene Daniels
Kyra Sedgwick - Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson
J.K. Simmons - Assistant Police Chief Will Pope
Frances Sternhagen - Willie Ray Johnson
Jon Tenney - Agent Fritz Howard
There were several different directors for the episodes in season three, including Sedgwick's husband Kevin Bacon who directed one episode. He had also directed one episode in the second season.
The Closer - The Complete Third Season DVD set has fourteen episodes on four discs. The discs are in thin plastic cases with two discs to each case. On the outside of the cases was a list of the episodes on each disc with a short summary. The writers and directors for each episode as well as if there were any unaired scenes were also indicated on the lists. There were only two extras other than the unaired scenes included which was a bit disappointing. The short gag reel was funny. The Art of Interrogation was a featurette that had some real police officers as well as people connected to the show talking about interrogation. It was said at one point that the police don't have to tell the person they are questioning the truth. The featurette was very interesting. It would have been nice if there were more extras, but I'm still glad that I picked up the DVD set.
Episodes with an * after them have an unaired scene
Grave Doubt *
Saving Face *
The Round File
Four to Eight
Culture Shock *
Till Death Do Us Part One
Till Death Do Us Part Two *
Next of Kin Parts One and Two
The Closer - The Complete Third Season DVD set is a good choice for fans of the show even though it didn't have many extras. Fans of the cast or who enjoy good police shows should give it a chance, though I do think it is best to start with the first season.
The fourth season of The Closer started to air on TNT in July of 2008. The show is on at 9:00 P.M. EST on Monday nights. I think the new episodes are also replayed during the week. Every so often TNT will have a marathon of the episodes as well. The new full episodes can be viewed at TNT's website, www.tnt.tv. The section of the site for The Closer also has different information about the show as well as a few games and some downloads.
The Closer: The Complete First Season ~ The Closer: The Complete Second Season ~ The Closer: The Complete Fourth Season ~
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