Gritty cop show Southland, which was cancelled before any of its twelve completed second season episodes could run on NBC, did well enough on TNT that the series has been renewed for a new ten-ep season to begin airing in January, 2011.
While Supernatural is still going strong in first run on the CW Network, the hit series, which is now in it’s 5th season, has found a syndication home on TNT. This of course means that fans who discovered this exciting series a little later in the game can look forward to a chance to catch up with Dean and Sam Winchester from the very beginning and those who have been with the show since the pilot have a chance to re-experience it all again.
Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, announced today that TNT has picked up the acclaimed police drama, Southland. “This is a great win for fans of Southland and a perfect opportunity to introduce the series to new viewers,” said Koonin, “It’s also another outstanding example of how TNT has established itself as the go-to place for the best dramas on television.”
We have been on the Leverage TNT Bandwagon since episode one and I had a great interview with the great Dean Devlin and one of the show’s stars Aldis Hodge. The show started off a bit rough but picked up steam as the season progressed. The cast really started to gel well together. I’m usually not a fan of the “Heist” story, but I like the overall premise of the show: A group of super bad con men banning together to do some good in the world and turn their skills onto the evil corporations and other big executives who think they are above the law. If I had one complaint about the show is, I think it’s a bit over directed and stylized when it doesn’t need to be. The season one DVD set includes all the season one episodes and a nice set of extras.
Saving Grace [TNT, Tuesdays, 10/9C] is what you might call a high concept show. Having self-destructive police detective Grace Hanadarko [Holly Hunter] be assigned a “last chance angel” – a rather redneck looking chap named Earl [Leon Rippy], thereby playing with all manner of expectations – is certainly not the most subtle of ideas. For two seasons, we’ve seen Grace inch her way toward some kind of redemption as she works on cases that have ranged from the peculiar to the mundane.
This season, Grace gets rolling quickly, with a dream sequence that plays back to some of the events of the latter part of the show’s winter season. You might remember a girl standing on a street corner, looking at Grace. That begins to play out this season – as Grace learns about Leon Cooley’s [Bokeem Woodbine] connection to her family. Grace’s partner, Ham’s [Kenny Johnson] divorce is finalized, creating a bit of weirdness between them.
In the first three eps of this new season, Grace deals with what could be a terrorist attack; determines that the girl on the corner has a last chance angel – her last chance angel – Earl, and is unexpectedly given the opportunity to change angels! Throughout, Grace is supported and/or chastised by the one person who give it to her without fear of reprisal, her best friend, Rhetta [Laura San Giacomo], who has continued to collect evidence of Earl’s existence – and is given an opportunity to succumb to temptation. Earl even learns about frustration – from personal experience, and not just from banging heads with Grace!
Saving Grace has never been subtle, but in its run so far it has taken a seemingly out there premise and turned it into a consistently entertaining series, with characters that we can recognize and with whom we can empathize. The three eps I was given for review purposes are all prime examples. They are loud and fast-paced, but have undercurrents that aren’t always readily discernable. They may or may not contain life lessons which Grace may or may not [mostly not], learn from – but whether the show is saying anything or not, it remains captivating and frequently compelling.
Final Grade: B+
TNT’s new medical drama, Hawthorne [Tuesdays, 9/8C], features a strong central character in Christina Hawthorne [Jada Pinkett-Smith] – the latest empowered woman to come from Turner, and probably meant to complement its other female-centric series, Saving Grace and The Closer. Unfortunately, it can’t hold a candle, let alone a cotton swab to either of them.
Hawthorne is a widow [cliché] with a headstrong daughter, Camille [Hannah Hodson] [cliché] who blames her for her father’s death [cliché]. She’s also the Chief Nursing Officer at Richmond Trinity Hospital and has on her staff, among others, a blonde beauty named Candy [Christina Moore] who gives “special attention” to returned soldiers [cliché] and a male nurse, Ray Stein [David Julian Hirsch], whom almost everyone suspects is gay [cliché]. She and her mother-in-law, Amanda [Joanna Cassidy], have agreed to keep her late husband’s ashes each alternating year [kinda creepy]. Amanda is also on the hospital’s board [cliché]. The two of them… wait for it… don’t care much for each other! [Cliché!] In the opening ep, we also meet Christina’s best friend, Bobbie [Suleka Mathew – one of two reasons to check out the show] and Dr. Tom Wakefield [Michael Vartan – the other reason to check out the show], Chief of Surgery, apparently, the only the only doctor in the entire building who actually wants to be there [one doctor, played with withering sarcasm by Anne Ramsey, plays golf instead of doing her rounds and blows up at Ray when he follows her prescribed meds and the patient almost dies – and then blames him, to boot]. Then there’s the Japanese doctor who speaks a pidgeon English that only Bobbie can decipher [yikes!]… Christina winds up fighting for her patients, her nurses and herself on an hourly basis – but gets to turn on the tough love when Camille [her daughter, remember?] pulls a protest by handcuffing herself to a junk food dispenser the school is having removed – and she doesn’t even eat junk food! It’s the principle of the thing [cliché]! Sadly, for all the technical expertise that is poured into producing a very good-looking series, no one appears to have given much thought to the writing. [Fortunately, TNT still has Brenda Johnson and Grace Hanadarko…] Final Grade: C-
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-