Major Crimes is about to enter its fourth season on TNT – not too shabby for a spinoff show; especially when the mothership was Kyra Sedgwick showcase The Closer.
Although Major Crimes also has a spectacular female lead in Mary McDonnell’s Captain Sharon Raydor, the biggest difference between it and its predecessor is that more weight is placed on the shoulders of the rest of the ensemble (most of whom came over from The Closer). One thing that links the two shows inextricably is charming, vicious psychopath Philip Stroh – who has a big presence in Major Crimes’ third season.
On Major Crimes, Lt. Provenza (G.W. Bailey) – whose first name is revealed this season, Lt. Flynn (Tony Denison), Lt. Michael Tao (Michael Paul Chan) and Det. Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz) get significantly more time than they did on The Closer – with significant support from Buzz Watson (Philip P. Keene), another holdover from the earlier show.
Newcomers Rusty Beck (Graham Patrick Martin), Raydor’s foster son, and Det. Amy Sykes (Kearran Giovanni), the newest addition to LAPD’s Major Crimes Unit also play pivotal roles, while Robert Gossett fulfills the same unpopular voice of authority here, as Cmdr. Russell Taylor, as he did on the earlier show. John Tenney’s FBI Agent Fritz Howard also pops up a few times over the course of the season.
Major Crimes operates as a sort of super-cop unit – they get the crimes that generate the most negative press – or threaten to if not solved quickly. Raydor is a more by-the-book boss than her predecessor, but she will bend the rules if she has to. As she notes (and I’m paraphrasing here), there’s no rule that says a cop can’t lie to a suspect to help an investigation.
Grumpy, old school cop Provenza and slick, go with the flow Flynn make as good a partnership as ever – their banter is frequently where an episode’s best moments of humor are generated – though tech guy Tao (pronounced ‘Dow’) has a dry sense of humor that sneaks in some pretty good stuff as well.
Rusty, who first appeared in the last ep of The Closer as a street hustler who barely escaped being murdered by Stroh (Billy Burke), is now Raydor’s foster son and has really put his life together. The relationship between Raydor and Rusty is built on love, trust and respect, which makes it one of the best familial relationships on TV.
Over the course of the third season, the unit’s cases have been varied – child abduction/murder; a parolee says that he didn’t do it and is found murdered the next day; an alleged rapist is murdered and there is a lot of no cooperation at all; a homeless girl’s body is found in a garbage can in an upscale neighborhood; a stalker is found murdered in a storage container rented by the actor she was stalking; a serial killer plans his kills based on astrology, and, of course, Stroh reappears – now representing himself and promising solutions to new crimes in exchange for a very specific deal.
Even though most of the season’s cases are intriguing to some extent, what’s happening away from work can be just as interesting, as when Rusty’s mom (Ever Carradine) contacts him from rehab promising to stay sober. Sometimes, it’s other work stuff that intrigues more than the case of the week, as with the four episode arc that culminates in Stroh’s return for the last two eps of the season.
As season three shows, Major Crimes is consistently very good – one of the better procedurals on TV, in fact. The writing, acting and directing set a high standard and the show quietly pulls in solid ratings. Season three suggests that the show has several more good seasons ahead of it.
The only problem with the Major Crimes: The Complete Third Season set – at least for anyone who really looks forward to special features – is that it is so light on bonus material (a handful of deleted scenes and a gag reel) that the set would have been better without them.
Grade: Major Crimes: The Complete Third Season – B+
Grade: Features – D
Final Grade: B-