DVD Review: The Closer – The Complete Fifth Season

Warner Bros. | 2009 | 660 mins. | Not Rated

The Closer is one of my favorite shows on television today. In its five seasons’ on TNT, The Closer has been one of the most interesting, intelligent, and exciting police procedurals on the air. There is no reason to believe things will be any different when the fifteen episode sixth season premieres on July 12, 2010. I’ve long been a fan of police dramas, but The Closer’s Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick), is near and dear to my heart. Speaks well of the show’s writers that they manage to make viewers root for her, despite her tough as nails exterior, and they do it without stooping to tired clichés.

The Closer – The Complete Fifth SeasonFrom the pilot on, it’s been clear that Brenda loves her job, and a lot of her identity and self worth is derived from being a law enforcement officer.  Of course, that’s good, but it often causes problems in her personal relationships. For Brenda, her job comes first, and we see the problems that causes for her husband, FBI Special Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney). It’s also proven to be a problem for other members of her family, as we see when Brenda’s parent’s come to visit (Barry Corbin, Frances Sternhagen).

However, season five finds Fritz wondering about the possibility of having a baby, and Brenda having an unexpected visit from another member of the family. After a major falling out with her parents, Brenda’s niece, Charlie (played by Sedgwick’s daughter, Sosie Bacon) comes to visit her aunt and uncle. (To make it a full-fledged family affair, Sosie’s dad, Kevin, turns up to direct an episode) Interestingly, the relationship between Brenda and Charlie ends up being rather successful. There is an incident with some ‘special’ brownies that one of her friends ships to her in a care package, but beyond that, the two end up bonding. In fact, Charlie wants to stay with them instead of returning to Georgia. She doesn’t, of course, but I’d say their newfound closeness bodes well for Charlie to return during the sixth season.

While Charlie softens Brenda a bit, it’s the surprisingly effective plotline about the love she has for her poor, sick kitty that truly shows her soft side. Since Kitty was very sick at the end of the fourth season, I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say she doesn’t pull through. Dealing with whether to put her beloved animal to sleep, and then what to do with her remains, puts Brenda into an emotional tailspin, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

Sometimes in the fifth season, you start to see signs that a show is slowing down, or starting a slow decline. Personally, I think The Closer is just hitting its stride. With the introduction of Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell), in this nemesis, Brenda has met her match. Watching the two talented actresses work together is always enjoyable, but their best scenes occur during the season finale, “Dead Man’s Hand,” which provides McDonnell with the opportunity to play Queen Bitch, and Sedgwick matches her, stride for stride.

In addition to McDonnell, Season Five offers several other guest stars, including Miguel Sandoval (Medium), Tom Skerritt (Picket Fences), and, amusingly, Beau Bridges in drag. Though I love Beau, admittedly, I thought the episode in question was the weakest of the bunch. Though it was meant to be serious, at times, it felt like a comedy sketch that harkened back to a bad episode of Bosom Buddies.

We’ll have to see what the sixth season has in store, but the finale would seem to suggest there might be some tension brewing between Brenda and Fitz. Though the couple has always gotten along smoothly, Fitz suggested he wasn’t sure if she would choose him over her job. One does have to wonder if Brenda would be willing to leave her beloved squad if Fritz got a better job offer. As we know, Brenda is a mass of contradictions. As a result, anything is possible.

The episodes are available in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. As always, the episodes look pretty darn good for standard definition, and are on par with the past four seasons. Image sharpness and detail are solid. Colors maintain a natural level of saturation, with appealing flesh tones. Blacks appear accurate, while the whites are crisp. Contrast is smooth and the lighting avoids too much flatness. The film elements from which the episodes have been transferred are quite clean, displaying few imperfections. A mild to moderate grain structure can be noticed here and there, but it never becomes excessive. Digital compression artifacts don’t interfere in the viewing experience.

Audio is presented with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. The simple sound design is effective, but unremarkable. Like the preceding seasons, the series sound design takes the talky crime drama approach; much of what we hear is front and center. There are occasional channel separations, but the outlying channels don’t see much activity beyond ambient sounds and musical fill. Overall, the fidelity is good, but the material remains largely dialogue based. Music sounds fine, while the sound effects are reasonably convincing. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English, Chinese, Portuguese and French subtitles are provided.

There are no commentaries among the special features, but we do get several deleted scenes (labeled “Police Files”), a gag reel, and – most impressively – a feature called “Seen at the Crime Location Map,” which gives you the opportunity to see how the locations were selected for each of the seasons episodes.

[xrrgroup][xrr label=”Video:” rating=”4.0/5″ group=”s1″ ] [xrr label=”Audio:” rating=”4.0/5″ group=”s1″] [xrr label=”Extras:” rating=”2.5/5″ group=”s1″] [xrr label=”Film Value:” rating=”4.0/5″ group=”s1″] [/xrrgroup]