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Case Number 19506: Small Claims Court

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The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season

Warner Bros. // 2009 // 660 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // August 18th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Kent Dixon used to fold at Old Navy. They called him "The Clotheser."

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The Closer: The Complete First Season (published June 21st, 2006), The Closer: The Complete Second Season (published July 4th, 2007), The Closer: The Complete Third Season (published June 25th, 2008), The Closer: The Complete Fourth Season (published May 26th, 2009), and The Closer: The Complete Sixth Season (published June 29th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

Southern charm, SoCal style!

The Case

The ensemble cop drama. It has been one of the staples of network TV since the '50s, drawing large audiences of weekly viewers in for decades. While many series and franchises have certainly made their mark on the landscape over the years, there still seems to be room for new twists on that old familiar genre most of us love so much. Enter The Closer. When it debuted in 2005, The Closer was a fresh new feature on a TV landscape that had long been dominated by other series like the CSI franchise, The Wire, The Shield and many others. Back for a 15-episode fifth season, does the series still hold its own in a sea of other procedural crime dramas?

I'm approaching this review from an interesting perspective. For whatever reason, The Closer flew completely under my radar and it's only recently, thanks to the small screen summer drought, that I've been able to explore some new territory. I think it's our mutual admiration for Kyra Sedgwick that led my wife and I to start with episode one of The Closer. I found that, even by the end of the first season, I still hadn't really been drawn in by the series. I wanted to like the characters and the writing and production values were certainly above average, but it just didn't grab me, so I was keen to revisit the series by zipping ahead to The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season.

In my recent review of Saving Grace, I touched on the fact that, while that series had a strong ensemble cast, the supporting actors weren't really given the opportunity to show their skills as the series focused the majority of its attention on the main character. While The Closer still focuses largely on its central character, Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Sedgwick, The Game Plan), the audience gets a bit more of an ensemble feeling from this series, as the episodes tend to cover a broader story, with Johnson and her team working together to solve crimes while dealing with personal struggles and issues. As I watched the fifth season, I was delighted to find that the character groundwork that was laid from the beginning, and had worked so well in the series' first season, has carried through to more recent episodes. The Closer continues to boast strong writing and a cohesive and talented group of actors who complement each other well.

The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season delivers a solid 15 episodes with the overarching theme of "change" tying the episodes together. Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Sedgwick) and her L.A.P.D. Major Crimes Division (MCD) team continue to grow as a cohesive unit of colleagues and friends; Brenda and her new husband FBI Special Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney, Brothers and Sisters) adjust to married life; Lieutenant Provenza (G.W. Bailey, M*A*S*H) finds true love with a younger woman; and Captain Sharon Raydor of Force Investigation (Mary McDonnell, Battlestar Galactica) crosses paths with the MCD gang, questioning their methods and motives.

So far, aside from a 13-episode first season, TNT has kept The Closer to just 15 episodes each season. The formula seems to be working well as the overall writing quality, across this season at least, is consistently outstanding and the host of award nominations and wins the series has accumulated since it debuted in 2005 speaks for itself. How is The Closer different from the umpteen other crime drama series that are currently airing? Quite simply, the series has heart. The central characters face the ugliness and brutality of what human beings are capable of doing to one another, but they still manage to maintain their humanity. The series also bears some interesting similarities to Bones in the often creative cases, touch of humor and moral compass the series seems to follow.

The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season looks great on DVD. Despite how jaded I've become as a result of my growing Blu-ray library and more discriminating taste when it comes to A/V presentations, I still know a great standard definition presentation when I see one. The audio mix is surprisingly immersive, coming across strong, clear and consistent, with no one element overpowering any other. The video presentation is also surprisingly good for an SD release, delivering strong colors and contrast and an above average level of detail throughout. On the extra features front, The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season offers a handful of unaired scenes and a gag reel. The additional "Seen at the Crime" location map is interactive, allowing viewers to click through to clips from each episode and comments from the producers.

The Verdict

From intense drama and whimsical heart to strong writing and solid production values, The Closer stands out amid a sea of formulaic crime shows.

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 87

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English (SDH)
• Chinese
• French
• Portuguese
Running Time: 660 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Crime
• Drama
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel


• IMDb
• Official Website

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