Los Angeles Deputy Brenda Johnson [Kyra Sedgwick] is facing a season of change as The Closer [TNT, Mondays, 9/8C] embarks on its fifth season. Now that she and Fritz [Jon Tenney] are married – and back at work – things haven’t quite smoothed themselves out. Not only is Brenda still adjusting to being married, her cat is sick [and we know how much she loves Kitty] and someone has just killed four of five members of a Hispanic family, execution style – a crime that is likely to cause serious repercussions in the community.
On May 26th, Warner Brothers released the complete 4th season of the hit TNT series The Closer onto DVD.
They’ll bring you in. She’ll make you talk.
The Golden Globe award winning series stars Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson who runs the Priority Homicide Division of the LAPD. Johnson has an unorthodox style, she couples with an innate ability to read people and obtain confessions all of which makes it possible for this Deputy Police Chief and her team to solve the city’s toughest, most sensitive cases.
Along with the usual hard hitting action and police drama, season 4 of The Closer had some vital changes going on in the storylines of the characters. The change that seemed to divide fans of the show the most was the marriage of Brenda and FBI Special Agent Fritz Howard (played by Jon Tenney), which left many loyal viewers wondering if The Closer had ‘jumped the shark’. Since only the progression of season 5 can answer that question, let’s take a look at what the DVD has to offer regarding season 4.
Season 4 found Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson and her team coming under the gun of an ambitious news reporter’s unflattering tell-all which marked the end of the PHD unit even amid the successful solving of some very brutal and dangerous cases. But Brenda is not one to be counted out and in the episode Time Bomb, she and her team, reunite as the newly created Major Crimes Division with expanded jurisdiction, find themselves uncovering a murder plot by a group of teens who see humans as a plague on the earth. When a member of the terrorist teen group dies of an overdose during interrogation the clock is ticking for the MCD to stop the carnage before it’s too late.
The series also stars J.K. Simmons (Juno), Corey Reynolds (The Guardian), Robert Gossett (Passions), G.W. Bailey (The Jeff Foxworthy Show), Tony Denison (Prison Break), Michael Paul Chan (Arrested Development), Raymond Cruz (Training Day), Gina Ravera (ER) and Phillip P. Keene (Home).
While Season 4 of the Closer has some uneven pacing in episodes, it has plenty of very intense storylines and intriguing regular and guest characters to offer the viewer. The DVD itself comes with some high quality special features.
Bonus Features on the DVD set include:
A “Day in the Life” of a Homicide Detective: – An engrossing featurette hosted by actor Corey Reynolds (Det. Sgt. David Gabriel) that spotlights Reynolds as he rides along with an LAPD detective.
Catching a Lie – A compelling featurette that teaches viewers how interrogators know a suspect is telling a lie. The FBI as well as other highly trained interrogators are taught unique and specific ways to catch a potential suspect in a lie. The technique and mannerisms are so precise that the results are almost identical to those of an actual lie detector test. Viewers visit with an actual member of the FBI as they discuss what to look for and how one can spot tell-tale signs.
The packaging of the 4 disc series is solid and the discs have an ease of access that helps to protect them and reduces wear and tear on them. Rosemary Markson, WHV Vice President, TV and Special Interest Marketing had this to say about The Complete 4th Season of The Closer:
“When a series earns major award nominations and wins for each season since its inception, you know you’ve got a rare and exceptional television program on your hands. That is consistently the case with The Closer. We feel privileged to be associated with this remarkable show. Kyra Sedgwick is dazzling in her role as Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson. Her outstanding performance combined with the show’s powerful story lines and brilliant production is what makes this a real stand-out police drama, and we are pleased to offer it to consumers.”
Check out this video clip of season 4 of The Closer.
The Closer: The Complete Fourth Season will be available in a four-disc DVD set from WHV on May 26, 2009, and will retail for $39.98 SRP
Tonight, Saving Grace [TNT, 10/9C], one of the more unusual cop shows returns – bringing Detective Grace Hanadarko [Holly Hunter] a new partner, Abby Charles [Christina Ricci in a three-episode arc] and Grace’s “last chance angel,” Earl [Leon Rippy], a seeming setback in his assignment to help Leon Cooley [Bokeem Woodbine].
Heart of a Cop introduces Abby, who makes a terrific first impression by being late on first day of a 28-day rotation. The day gets more complicated when a murder turns out to be the work of a serial killer. Then, to Earl’s consternation, Leon asks for his execution date to be moved up. Plus, a creepy crime scene fan may be the killer.
Do You Believe in Second Chances? Finds Grace’s brother, Father John Handarko [Tom Irwin] trying to help Leon – but being more than a little bewildered by Leon’s response. Meanwhile, Grace’s niece, Sarah, is arrested at a scavenger party [the guests bring various drugs which are then put in a bowl and everyone takes something randomly from the bowl – it’s a kind of druggie’s Russian roulette], while her friend winds up in a coma. This episode features one of the most heartbreaking depictions of consequences I’ve ever seen.
In Take Me Somewhere, Earl, the investigation of the murder of a drug dealer bleeds over into another case – one with unexpected ties to the precinct. Meanwhile, Father John and Loretta [Laura San Giacomo] meet the mother of the woman whom Leon was convicted of killing; Earl produces an ancient hangover remedy, and we see that Grace is actually capable of having fun without any artificial stimulus. Oh, and there’s an unexpected revelation about Abby.
Besides having one of the two coolest theme songs on TV [the other being True Blood], Saving Grace has taken an especially odd premise and turned it into a powerful exploration of ethics, morality, self-destructiveness and [hopefully] redemption. The writing has become sharper and wittier as the cast have settled into their characters [or, in Hunter’s case, rode her character into the ground]. The show’s directors have framed the cast’s performances in episodes that are now individual jewels in a complicated setting.
With Saving Grace, a series that could have become a joke has become a genuinely unique show – and one of the best on TV.
Final Grade: A
The winter premiere of The Closer [Mondays, TNT, 9/8C] is following a pretty hard act – it’s mid-season cliffhanger, and so we both learn the fate of Detective Sanchez [Raymond Cruz] and witness Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson’s [Kyra Sedgwick] reaction to Fritz’s marriage ultimatum. Even better, there’s an apparent case of suicide that coroner Dr. Morales [Jonathan Del Arco] won’t sign off on – and he’s extorting Deputy Chief Johnson into taking the case [or he’ll take it to another division, making her team look like idiots!].
The deceased is a recovering drug addict and con man who seems to have gone straight – though that doesn’t jive with the recollection of his ex-wife which is, in turns at odds with the experience [or at least testimony] of his pastor [church in a slating rink!] and cancer-suffering girlfriend. Add in the after effects of the cliff-hanger’s two-pronged dilemma – and the presence of Brenda’s parents [Barry Corbin and Frances Sternhagen], who are visiting for a few days before setting out on a Hawaiian cruise – and you’ve got all the ingredients for a truly odd mix of confusion, misdirection and pathos. The episode, Good Faith, is also notable for actually having scenes that do not require the presence of DC Strong.
Upcoming episodes feature a body found in the trunk of a car, and a suspected rapist/murderer whose lawyer has a track record of successfully defending sex offenders.
As usual, The Closer is written well enough to give us a few moments pause over each ep’s mystery, but it remains most notable for giving us a strong lead character that continues to grow as a person – and as a high-ranking member of the Los Angeles Police Department. Though this is Sedgwick’s show, there are moments for several members of her team as well as J.K. Simmons’ Assistant Chief Pope [who gets some really good stuff in the premiere].
All in all, The Closer hasn’t yet lost a step. It remains one of the best [and most watched] programs on cable television.
Final Grade: B
When Trust Me [Mondays, TNT, 10/9C] premieres following The Closer, there will be a tonal shift of some magnitude. Whereas The Closer is a darker drama with humor, Trust Me is much lighter in tone, with a nearly equal amount of each.
The set up is this: Mason [Eric McCormack] and Conner [Tom Cavanagh] are partners in a creative group for ad agency Rothman, Green & Mohr. Mason is a bit uptight, a bit square and a draughtsman as opposed to an artist. Conner is sly, charming, talented but incredibly immature – and us brilliant at coming up with concepts and taglines.
When one of their biggest clients, Arc Mobile, wants to change their approach, Mason and Conner are pulled away from a cushy assignment to come up with something new – only their boss [Life on Mars’ Jason O’Mara] hasn’t been told. When he finds out, he retreats to his office and has a heart attack. The group’s creative director, Tony Mink [Griffin Dunne] promotes Mason to take his place. Conner has a fit of pique.
Trust Me’s first two episodes [Before and After, All Hell The Victors] deal with the ramifications of the client’s need for change and the fall out form Mason’s promotion – working a newly hired hot shot writer, Sarah Krajicek-Hunter [Monica Potter] who was promised “a window;” two junior copywriters, Tom [Mike Damus] and Hector [Geoffrey Arend] who think taglines are passé, and Mason’s wife Erin [Sarah Clarke] into the mix, along with all their unique arcs.
Between dealing with Arc Mobile and the inadvertent plagiarizing of a tagline from a potential employee, the first two episodes do a good job of setting up the characters and situations that will be the foundation for the series. If the ad agency stuff feels real it’s because series creators, Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny have between them over twenty years experience in the field.
Trust Me wouldn’t be out of place on a major network [or on the “Characters Welcome” cable net, for that matter]. It’s hugely entertaining despite still needing a bit of work on the drama/humor balance and figuring out how to maximum effect out of its minor characters. It’s certainly a better than average series, but it has the potential to be much more.
Final Grade: B-
Leverage is a new TNT show that airs Sunday nights. The show reminds me a lot of USA’s weekly spy caper – Burn Notice. The difference is being that instead of an ex spy stuck in Miami, Leverage is about criminals trying to do the right thing. They take on, primarily Corporate criminals who prey on the week and helpless. I watched the first two episodes a few weeks ago and liked it, can definitely see the potential in it, even though I’m usually not a big fan of procedurals or complicated con-games.
I recently had the chance to sit down with one of the shows stars Aldis Hodge who plays the techno geek Alec Hardison and the show’s creator and mastermind, the great Dean Devlin. Doing a multi-person interview is always strange because I always end up focusing on one of the participants and not both equally. I had a lot of questions for Dean, but I made a connection with Aldis over our mutual geek love fest and he new friend the Playstation 3. It was a 5pm interview (which I usually hate) both were energetic and a lot of fun. They were going to do a screening and Q and A later that night and I was off to see the Wizard of Oz at DC’s Warner Theater. We had a short-term (about 30 minutes) romance.
I’ve been playing a lot of Call of Duty 4 the last few weeks. Thinking about picking up Call of Duty: World at War.
After sitting through the first four episodes of TNT’s new series Leverage [premieres Sunday, 10/9C, then moves to Tuesday, 10/9C] – one of the easiest assignments of my career, it occurred to me that TNT’s motto could be modified to read, “We Know Dramedy.” Leverage, like its fellow TNT shows The Closer, Saving Grace and Raising the Bar, does have its moments of drama – but like those other show [okay, excepting Raising the Bar], it makes frequent use of wit, charm and humor.
Former insurance investigator Nathan Ford [Timothy Hutton] put has a team put together to steal a supposedly stolen set of plan for a new aircraft on the series premiere, The Nigerian Job. Part of the reason he takes the job is because that insurance company, for which he saved untold millions of dollars in claims, refused his son’s medical treatment and the boy died.
The other four members of the team – grafter Sophie Deveraux [Gina Bellman – Coupling], retrieval specialist Eliot Spencer [Christian Kane – Into the West, Angel], cat burglar Parker [Beth Riesgraf] and hi-tech thief Alec Hardison [Aldis Hodge – Friday Night Lights] – aren’t especially interested in doing the right thing. For them, the money is where it’s at.
Leverage is smart, showing its influences without losing its own identity. One of the keys to its success is that Ford puts together his team from thieves he’s taken on in his old job. As the team leader and token “honest man,” Hutton takes the still grief-stricken Ford and gives him enough dramatic weight that he anchors the show as well as the team.
The rest of the cast fills out their roles in various idiosyncratic ways – all of which work, because series creators John Rogers [Transformers, Global Frequency] and Chris Downey [The King of Queens] have written them with a depth that is striking. There are also twists on the standard caper personalities, the biggest of which is that, whereas the “crazy” member of the team is usually a guy, here it’s beautiful, blonde Parker. That’s only one of many variations of the usual themes that sets Leverage apart – in a good way.
Over the first four eps, the team will steal top secret plans; save a church; tackle the ownership of a thoroughbred and deal with a Blackwater-type mercenary company. In each case, the caper is different – especially when the man who moved into Ford’s old office [played by Mark A. Sheppard, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica] appears on one of their cases!
Final Grade: B+
Every so often, you need a little low-budget, B-movie fun. The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice [TNT, Sunday, 8/7C] provides exactly that. This time, Flynn Carson’s [Noah Wyle] New Orleans vacation is interrupted in unique style as it comes to light that the Judas Chalice – the chalice made from the silver of the thirty coins paid to Judas Iscariot for Christ’s betrayal – has come to light. Obviously, The Library would like to add it to their private collection.
Curse of the Judas Chalice continues to mine the Indiana Jones format to good effect. The movie opens with Carson bidding on a vase from the early Ming Dynasty [circa 1411] and having to destroy it to obtain the real treasure inside. There follows swordplay – and a throw pillow is involved – all of which leads to Carson’s girlfriend breaking up with him.
From there, a serious meltdown and a strange dream lead our hero to take a vacation in New Orleans – where he encounters a statue and a woman that were in said dream. Mix in a former KGB agent and Russian government official named Kubicek [Dirkan Tulaine], who has a lead on the chalice; a decrepit history professor named Professor Lazlo [Bruce Davison], and a legend that suggests that the Judas Chalice can resurrect vampires and you’ve got a potent mix for adventure. Once Carson encounters the woman from his dream, Simone [Stana Katic], singing in a club, the action comes fast and furious.
Curse of the Judas Chalice is a bit of a comeback for the franchise. As with the Indiana Jones films, the second chapter wasn’t quite right [and Gabrielle Anwar was no Sonja Walger – whom we see in the opening credits here for some reason]. Where the second Librarian movie was too silly, Curse is just silly enough. The idea of resurrecting vampires combines well with revelations that make sense of Judson’s [Bob Newhart] appearance in New Orleans to give the series an extra layer of the epic.
Jonathan Frakes keeps things light and breezy and Marco Schnabel’s script is witty and slightly deranged. Add in genial performances and solid effects and the result is an entertaining bit of froth that will provide a cheery couple of hours – which is exactly what it sets out to do.
Final Grade: B
One of my favorite summer series, The Closer is returning to Television this week, Mondays at 9pm on TNT to be exact. I spoke with Michael Paul Chan who plays Det. Lt. Mike Tao. I joked that he’s the show’s “exposition” guy. Whenever we need background on a suspect, Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) goes to Tao. There was an episode in the 2nd season where they even made a joke about it. Chan has a very impressive career, you may not know his name, but you will probably recognize his face. The phone interview was short and to the point, there was a lot that he couldn’t talk about, but I did get some tidbits.
- Power is the theme of this season. It’s about people who have it or want to get it.
- We will meet Mrs Tao this season. Michael wouldn’t tell me who plays her. But he did say that we will get to know more of the crew this season.
- The relationship between Brenda and her staff are going to get strained again.
- The Closer isn’t a serialized show, so there won’t be any overarching stories again this year.
- The cast rehearses in the mornings and it takes up to 13 hours to film five minutes.
- He does have a lot of input into his character’s basic development. The decision for Tao to be an early backer of Brenda’s was his.
- Brenda and Taylor’s battles will heat up again this year.
- Brenda and Fritz are still together.
- To prepare for his role Michael took weapons training and went to detective school. He said he feels like he has all the tools to be a real detective if he wanted to.
- Surfer and build bicycles and motorcycles anything to keep movie
Don’t forget to be sure to catch The Closer, Mondays at 9pm on TNT. It’s a great show. We’ll be doing weekly recaps starting with this week’s season premiere. The show will run new episodes through August.
Given that The Closer isn’t quite the typical procedural, it only makes sense that its double-length Christmas episode, Next of Kin [tonight, TNT, &C] would be a bit off-centre – in a good way.
When Saving Grace returns this evening [TNT, 9C], the series shifts into high gear – exploring Grace’s need for self-destructive behaviour [one-night stands, drinking, taking risks on the job] at the expense of a family, friends and colleagues who care about her. Tonight’s new episode revolves around a school bus accident and a group of tornados. Continue reading Saving Grace: Progress Made In Inches