TNT’s Cop Shows Make Mondays Mystery Night!

Closer S7 - Karen neal Rizzoli & Isles 2.01 - Doug Hyun

TNT’s Cop Shows Make Mondays Mystery Night!

If you’re tired of reruns and reality TV, and don’t much get science fiction and fantasy, then TNT’s Monday night cop shows – The Closer [9/8C] and Rizzoli & Isles [10/9C] – are a solidly entertaining alternative.

The Closer’s seventh and final season opener, Unknown Trouble, finds Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson [Kyra Sedgwick] and her Major Crimes Unit faced with the murder of a young, up and coming rapper named C-Game and six others – just as the department is about to go public with its reorganization [with the possibility that the MCU might not exist tomorrow], and Internal affairs’ Captain Sharon Raydor [Mary McDonnell] apprises her of a lawsuit that is most definitely not going to go away.

The department’s reorganization causes problems for Deputy Chief Pope, too, but not nearly as much as for Johnson. If she quits, then the department will see to it that she faces the full brunt of the aforementioned lawsuit – and her new immediate superior is very blunt about that. To her team’s amazement, Johnson gives full cooperation to the investigation the department initiates following the lawsuit – though she gets some unexpected support on two major fronts.

The actual murder investigation comes down to one major suspect, the owner of C-Game’s record label [Rockmond Dunbar] – at least until the MCU finds out about the rapper’s girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. It all comes down to an interrogation room sequence that showcases Johnson at her best – and finishes off with one those finales that networks require assurances that reviewers not reveal [I actually laughed out loud while simultaneously exclaiming ‘WHOA!’ as I watched it].

Unknown Trouble was written by Michael Alaimo and directed by Nelson McCormick, and they definitely get The Closer’s final season off to a rip-roaring start.

Grade: The Closer: Unknown Trouble – B+

What a difference a year makes.

When the series premiered last summer, I found it clichéd, hokey and – outside of its sterling cast – pretty much awful. The season two premiere of Rizzoli & Isles really surprised me. I liked it. Somewhere along the way [I tried, but couldn’t get through the show’s second and third episodes, so I gave up], it’s raised its quality level enormously.

We Don’t Need Another Hero opens three months after the events of Rizzoli & Isles’ first season finale. Detective Jane Rizzoli [Angie Harmon] is about to honored for her actions in the first season finale, but she’s both unwilling to be considered a hero, and still suffering from the self-administered gunshot would that took down the bad guy. ME Maura Isles [Sasha Alexander] is certain that her best friend’s health problem is largely psychosomatic, but Rizzoli will have nothing to do with that idea.

Somehow, Isles persuades Rizzoli to attend the ceremony [she refers to it as ‘the hard way,’ but we never actually see what that is], where Rizzoli meets a woman she considers to be a real hero – a marine who, though wounded in a firefight in Afghanistan, was able to crawl to a machine gun and lay down suppressing fire until her surviving comrades could be rescued.

Also at the award ceremony, Rizzoli meets a former flame from high school, Charles ‘Casey’ Jones [Chris Vance] who is now a staff sergeant in the army – and they strike all kinds of sparks. Then, after the ceremony, a bomb blows up the marine’s car and – despite not being cleared for duty – Rizzoli forces her way into the investigation.

To add to Rizzoli’s not good, very bad day, Angela breaks the news about an enormous upheaval in her life – one that comes as a complete shock to Rizzoli, but not to her baby brother [which ticks Rizzoli off almost much as the event itself].

The combination of the polar opposite detective, tough tomboy, Rizzoli, and the very girly girl ME, Isles, drew record setting audiences last summer – mostly because of the chemistry between Harmon and Alexander, but also possibly because the show’s ensemble of Bruce McGill [Detective Vince Korsak, a newly promoted sergeant, this season], Lee Thompson Young [Rizzoli’s still wet behind the ears partner, Barry Frost], Jordan Bridges [Rizzoli’s baby brother, patrol cop, Frankie Jr.] and the amazing Lorraine Bracco [the Rizzolis’ slightly OCD mother, Angela], is pretty stellar.

Neither TNT’s screener, nor the accompanying press release for We don’t Need Another Hero include the names of the ep’s writer or director, but the second season premiere is so much better than the early episodes that it’s almost like seeing a whole new show.

The writing is smarter, the characters are more nuanced, the action seems to fit better and the ep is nicely paced. Rizzoli & Isles still has a ways to go before it’s as good as The Closer, but it’s infinitely better than it was.

Grade: Rizzoli & Isles: We don’t Need another Hero – B

Final Grade: TNT Mondays – B

Photos by Karen Neal and Doug Hyun/courtesy of TNT