Though a spin-off of The Closer (2005-12) Major Crimes, given that it has much the same cast, feels much more like a continuation of its sister show, than a new concept. As a fan of both, I suspect that’s just how creator James Duff wanted it. While the characters have largely stayed the same with a couple notable subtractions and additions, the narrative is slightly different, making major crimes the central focus, no longer having to deal with Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson’s (Kyra Sedgwick of The Closer) battles with top brass.
Following the departure of Deputy Chief Johnson, Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) spent a lot of time during the first season trying to earn the respect of her officers. Along the way, she decides to Rusty Beck (Graham Patrick Martin), a teenager who must be protected until he can testify in the Phillip Stroh case, an investigation that has been going on since the days of The Closer. Having Rusty around is an interesting twist. A seventeen-year-old streetwise kid who desperately wants a parental figure in his life, his presence, allows us to repeatedly see Sharon’s softer side. We also learn that her relationship with her own son and daughter isn’t necessarily as close as she would like it to be.
The writer’s and producer’s of Major Crimes take an interesting approach to the season, by making the Philip Stroh case an ongoing story throughout the season. Rusty has been receiving letters for months, threatening him if he testifies, which creates a real sense of tension. Making matters worse, he’s reluctant to tell Sharon, for fear of being taken out of her care.
In the midst of all this, the Major Crimes Unit must deal with the cases that come up on a daily basis. Unlike The Closer, they no longer have someone like Chief Johnson who can walk into the interrogation room and get a perp to confess. Enter Deputy District Attorney Emma Rios (Nadine Velazquez) tough as nails; her job is to make deals to ensure crooks go to jail before a trial is even necessary. She is also working the Stroh case, and butts heads with Sharon more than once over her handling of Rusty as a witness.
Many of the cases, whether it be a drive by shooting, the search for a bullied transgendered girl, or a dead witness, many of the cases seem as though they could have been ripped from the headlines. The cast works very well together and brings a freshness and excitement to each episode. There’s no question though that Mary McDonnell leads the cast, and she does it with a keen understanding of her character.
For fans of The Closer, Major Crimes has been a nice continuation of sorts. I will admit though, I’d like Brenda Leigh Johnson to pop in for a visit some day.
Episodes: Final Cut, False Pretenses, Under the Influence, I, Witness, D.O.A., Boys Will Be Boys, Rules of Engagement, The Deep End, There’s No Place Like Home, Backfire, Poster Boy, Pick Your Poison, Jailbait, All In, Curve Ball, Risk Assessment, Year-End Blowout, Return To Sender, Return To Sender (Part 2)
Presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, given the limitations of standard DVD, there is some edge enhancement in play, but contrast and sharpness levels remain fairly stable. While colors don’t necessarily pop off the screen, they look natural throughout, and no bleeding is in evidence. Flesh tones look normal, and aside from a few specks here and there, the image is clean.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack provides a rather clear and stable listening experience. Dialogue is clean and crisp, while the sound effects are largely on low end spectrum. This is essentially a standard TV soundtrack mix that works well for the material.
English, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Major Crimes: Personal Conviction: The actors discuss their characters and how each of them deals with the difficult situations they face.
- Behind The Scenes: A Look Forward: Creator and executive producerJames Duff, executive producer Michael M. Robin, and co-executive producer Mike Berchem provide a look into season three.
- Deleted Scenes: Eighteen in all; attached to the given episode.
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