Warner Bros. // 2010 // 639 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // June 29th, 2011
"I told you to adapt to the building, not to make the building adapt to you."
Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick, Secondhand Lions) is the rock star of the Los Angeles Police Department Major Crimes Division. When a new case opens, Brenda is usually the one to close it. This season, there are a couple of new complications added to the mix. First, Brenda is forced to adapt to the new high-tech facility that Major Crimes Division has been given. It's loaded with all sorts of fancy crime-solving tools, but Brenda finds her new surroundings a hassle to deal with. Second, the LAPD is searching for a new chief, and Brenda has thrown her hat into the ring. Her primary competition is her boss, Assistant Chief for Operations Will Pope (J.K. Simmons, Spider-Man). In the midst of all this, a colorful variety of new cases are closed.
All fifteen episodes of The Closer: The Complete Sixth Season are spread across three discs:
* The Big Bang
* Help Wanted
* In Custody
* Heart Attack
* Off the Hook
* Jump the Gun
* War Zone
* Last Woman Standing
* Executive Order
* Old Money
* High Crimes
* Living Proof Part 1
* Living Proof Part 2
* An Ugly Game
Full disclosure: I hadn't watched an entire episode of The Closer before digging into this sixth-season set, though I had seen countless promos for the show (it seems to get featured in my movie theatre's pre-show programming every season) and had heard a few positive things about it from friends. Fortunately for yours truly, The Closer is not exactly a tangled web of complex plotting ala Lost or The Wire, but rather a pretty straightforward case-of-the-week procedural that doesn't let its minimal long-arc storytelling get in the way of delivering satisfactory self-contained episodes of television. When a new office is one of the biggest developments, you realize that we're not dealing with The Shield (though this series does borrow that program's blinking opening credits sequence beat-for-beat).
From what I am told, early seasons of The Closer made a big deal of the fact that Brenda was a Georgia girl working in LA; wringing a good deal of fish-out-of-water comedy and drama from her distinctive personality. That element is barely present in season six, as Brenda is now simply a part of the team and is only set apart from the others by her accent and constant frown. Though it took me a while to get a handle on the personalities of the supporting players, Sedgwick gives viewers a firm idea of who she is within mere minutes of any given episode. It's a striking performance that more or less towers over everything else in the show, and it's certainly the element that has received the most acclaim (Sedgwick has received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations -- plus one win from both -- for every season of the program to date).
While a few mildly intense moments appear from time to time, the show's tone veers towards the gently comedic, as murders tend to be a set-up for cornball punchlines rather than wrenching drama (Example: someone talking about the stars makes a reference to "heavenly bodies," and then someone will chime in with, "our latest victim's girlfriend certainly has a heavenly body" or some such silliness). The writers also have a tendency to include everything we need to know right in the dialogue, regardless of whether or not it sounds like a genuine conversation. This is one of those shows where characters tell each other things they already know simply for the benefit of getting the audience up to speed.
That may sound like an insult, but it's not intended that way. There's certainly a place for programs like The Closer, which is a harmless slice of well-crafted sock-folding television. It doesn't strive for realism and things tend to get wrapped up in a tidy manner at the end of every episode, but the series is well-acted (J.K. Simmons and guest-star Mary McDonnell stand out in an impressive field of supporting players) and never takes itself too seriously. As a newcomer to the series, I didn't suffer even a small amount of confusion at any point, since the program goes to great pains to ensure that viewers don't feel lost regardless of when they tuned in. While I imagine that might get a little tiresome if one were marathoning their way through the complete series, it does make this a program that I'd be cool with spending an hour with if there was nothing else particularly exciting on television.
The DVD transfer is a bit disappointing, probably due to the fact that five 43-minute episodes have been crammed onto each disc. The level of detail suffers at times and depth isn't as strong as it could be, but this is par for the course with any television series including this much material on each standard-def disc. Personally, I feel there should be a maximum of four episodes per disc for dramas of this length, as one can almost always tell a significant difference when a DVD is stuffed with just a bit more content. Audio is satisfactory, with clean dialogue and a pretty generic Thomas Newman-y score (easily the most-imitated composer in modern network television, though Newman doesn't really work in TV himself). Extras are thin: some deleted scenes, two quick featurettes ("Kyra Sedgwick Opens Up About The Closer" and "Script to Screen: Making Episode 3 In Custody") and a gag reel.
Watching my first season of The Closer didn't exactly inspire me to go back and watch the rest of the show from the beginning, but it's easy to see the appeal of this charming, unpretentious program. It's quite likable.
Review content copyright © 2011 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 639 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Official Site