It’s a pun, if you think about it.
I was a big fan of The Closer, the cop show about the leader of an élite squad of detectives who was renowned for closing cases by getting confessions. Of course, that original premise was complicated over the seven seasons of the show, and Kyra Sedgwick as Brenda Lee Johnson became less of an interview expert and more of a focus of controversy.
But we loved it, the kids and I, and were disappointed to see it end, although as with all these things, I’m sure seven years was probably enough. But like The X Files after Mulder, The Closer has a life after its death in the form of Major Crimes, which sees supporting character Sharon Raydor played by Mary McDonnell promoted to head the squad, which is almost-the-same but not quite. Corey Reynolds (Lt. Gabriel) has also departed at the end of his story arc, and been replaced with Kearran Giovani as Det. Amy Sykes, a keen-as-mustard young gun with much to prove. G W Bailey as Louie Provenza also takes a more central role, and Flynn, Tao, and Sanchez are all present and correct.
So, is Major Crimes The X Files without Mulder (i.e. a bit rubbish), or is it NYPD Blue without Caruso (just as good, actually, and in the long term probably better)?
I’ve been downloading episodes on Saturday nights during X Factor season, and by now I have watched the first five of season one, and I have not been disappointed so far. The genius here is in replacing the “maverick but gets results” character of Brenda with the “by the book and gets different results” of Sharon. I’m thoroughly bored, for various reasons, of maverick cops, and always had more sympathy with Raydor in The Closer. She was a figure of hate because she was Internal Affairs, but actually her focus on cost-effectiveness and getting convictions that stick is a refreshing breath of fresh air.
So whereas The Closer was all about, you know, closing cases with a confession, Major Crimes is all about doing a deal to save the state the expense of a trial. I’m not saying one is more realistic, but I do like a universe with rules, and the typical cop show habit (give or take Law and Order) of taking us up to but not including the “boring” legal bit, gets a bit old. Sure, the likes of Provenza hate doing deals with criminals, but let’s get real: some of Brenda’s underhand methods would surely have seen cases overturned. And in The Closer itself, she does end up being tied in knots by a civil action brought by one of her “victims”.
It’s disappointing that Major Crimes hasn’t appeared on More4, but it’s a great alternative to the repetitive charms of The X Factor. Recommended