Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Consider, just for a moment, a universe in which you work for me.": The Closer

To be perfectly frank with you, there was a time a few years back where I heard tell about a new television series called "The Closer" and I was terrified. Now, my fear stemmed mostly from the fact that I was afraid this television series was a further adaptation of the play (or worse, the film), which it is not, but discovering that the series was actually yet another procedural, this time helmed by Kevin Bacon's wife, sporting QUITE the Southern accent did little to assuage my early misgivings.

So perhaps it is not surprising that it has taken me years to build up the intestinal fortitude to actually sit down and watch an episode of the forementioned show. And, honestly, it wasn't terrible. I'll even go beyond that and say that it was definitely okay. The episode (the premiere of season three) began with handheld footage taken at a crime scene where three members of a suburban family were brutally stabbed to death in the middle of the night. While the footage seemed overly processed in order to look different and gritty, this served as a convenient device to introduce new viewers to the characters and to the show itself. (Note: It appears that their foresight was spot on.)

From there the episode played out as it would on just about any procedural on television, though with it's own little quirks. Where as the CSI(s) have their science and Law & Order(s) have their "both sides of justice" viewpoint, Cold Case has nostalgia and Numb3rs has ... well, numbers, The Closer has Kyra Sedgwick. As center of The Closer's world, Brenda Leigh Johnson, Sedgwick serves as both heart and haraguer of the show, taking the weight of the world on her slender shoulders and oozing southern hospitality as she does it.

Surrounding Sedgwick is a supporting cast of utterly forgettable individuals. It's as though the writers poured all of their efforts and ideas and idiosyncrasies into creating Johnson and just had nothing left over for anyone else. Beyond that, the rest of the characters are faceless and interchangeable, despite obvious efforts to make them as ethnically diverse as possible. (Note: I said ethnic; Sedgwick is obviously the only female detective in Los Angeles. I'm just sayin'.)

The only exception to this (and a notable exception it is) is the work of J.K. Simmons. Though Simmons is ostensibly playing the same character he always plays (himself), he serves as a breath of fresh air the show desperately needs periodically. Simmons, playing Johnson's long-suffering boss, is the only person who can share the screen with Sedgwick without being completely overshadowed, and it seems like the show would do well to utilize him more often.

Taking all of this into consideration, The Closer makes a case for being one of the finer procedurals currently running. Add to this the fact that it runs during the summer, and it makes it one of the finer television viewing options during that drought-ridden season. But really, Age of Love could make anything look like distinguished fare.


page said...

I must be the perfect demographic for this show because I liked it from the start. I tuned in to see Kyra Sedgwick and while I was initially put off by her cloying faux-southern accent, I enjoyed her character enough to become a regular viewer. I like that she's a mess, that she's funny, that she's in charge. All the stuff they want me to identify with and like, I know. They were right on target in thinking fans of "Prime Suspect" would like "The Closer." I love PS and while the plot line on "The Closer" can't compare, I like the twist of focusing on the confession. That's new. I find this new programming trend with strong, quirky female leads played by strong, quirky actresses (the Glenn Close show, the Holly Hunter one, the Lily Taylor one) interesting and hopeful. I haven't seen those shows yet but I hope at least one of them doesn't suck.

Carrie said...

Did you notice the Veronica Mars 09er reunion on the season premiere? Beaver (my name is CASSIDY!) and Sean (poker money stealer/fake rich kid/son of butler) played the dead man's sons. I loved that.

Libby said...

Whoa Carrie, you're even better than me at that game! I totally noticed the Beav (who is, evidently, the only teen this age willing to play gay) but completely missed Sean.

And Page, I kinda dig this show too. I usually sign on for procedurals in 2 year chunks and with this airing in the summer, I can't see not watching it at least for the duration of this season.

Anonymous said...

I think the G. W. Bailey character, Provenza, is pretty funny when he gets some dialogue.

Nea said...

I like this show too. Carrie, I thought that at least one of the kids was on Veronica Mars. I caught this episode during an encore showing last night, and realized that there is indeed a second female detective. She is not in the picture posted, but if memory serves me correctly, she has always been on the show. She is always in the background, but her desk is right up front by the big dry erase board! I love that Sedgwick's caracter loves chocolate sooo much. The way she feels about sweets, is exactly how I feel!