Complete Fifth Season
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All photos © TNT
Reviewed by Will Harris
he Closer” has, in its five seasons on TNT, been one of the most consistently interesting, intelligent, and downright enjoyable police procedurals on cable, and there’s no reason to believe that the show’s upcoming sixth season will offer anything other than the same. What’s surprising, though, is how they manage to keep viewers rooting for the character of Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) despite the fact that – whether consciously or not – she always manages to come off as the kind of person that you’d probably really dislike if you ever actually met her.
And no, it’s not because of her accent. That actually kind of grows on you after awhile.
With each season of “The Closer,” it is further confirmed to us that Brenda is someone who loves her job. This is a good thing, of course, as there are many of us who deal with mind-numbing drudgery on a daily basis in order to make ends meet. The problem is that it’s the kind of love that, were Pee-Wee Herman to offer his familiar “so why don’t you marry it, then?” sneer, she’d probably consider it. And this is, as you might imagine, a bit of a problem for her fiancée, FBI Special Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney). It’s also proven to be an issue with Brenda’s family, as we learn whenever her parents come into town.
In Season Five, however, Brenda has a different member of the Johnson clan come to visit: her niece, Charlie, played by Sedgwick’s daughter, Sosie Bacon. (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 somewhat successful. Oh, sure, there’s that little misunderstanding about the brownies Charlie makes with a special ingredient that one of her friends ships to her in a care package, but beyond that, the two end up bonding remarkably well – so much so, in fact, that Charlie wants to stick around. She doesn’t, of course, but that desire bodes well for a return in Season Six.
The Charlie relationship serves to soften Brenda somewhat, but what does more for that than anything else is the surprisingly effective plotline about the love she has for her poor, sick kitty. It’s not really a spoiler to tell you that Kitty doesn’t make it to the end of the season, given how sick she is when things kick off, but Brenda has never been more likeable than she is when she’s dealing with the emotions that Kitty brings out in her. It’s also pretty funny when Brenda is pitted against a new nemesis within the department: Captain Sharon Raydor, played by Mary McDonnell. Watching McDonnell and Sedgwick is consistently enjoyable, but the best of their team-ups occurs during the season finale, “Dead Man’s Hand,” which provides McDonnell with the opportunity to play Queen Bitch to the Nth degree. Unsurprisingly, Sedgwick matches her handily.
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. The episode in question isn’t necessarily the best thing “The Closer” has ever offered, as it feels more like a sitcom than a drama whenever Bridges is in his dress, but when he’s back in a suit and playing a cop, he kicks ass.
It’s hard to say how many more seasons “The Closer” has in it, but in the finale to Season Five, we do get the impression that there’s a battle brewing in the distance over what Brenda would do if Fritz got a job offer within the Bureau that he couldn’t refuse. Based on what we’ve seen thus far, the temptation is to suspect that she’d balk at the thought of moving and giving up her job. But, then again, I didn’t expect to see her in tears over a kitty, so you never know what surprises “The Closer” has in store.
Special Features: No commentaries, unfortunately, 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 season’s episode. The only complaint is that I could find no “play all” option, which was sorely needed.