November 26, 2013

THE SKED Midseason Premiere Review: “Major Crimes”



MAJOR CRIMES isn’t the kind of series to go for “game-changing” alterations, so the back half (actually 8 episodes) of its second season, which resumed tonight after a break since August, is only incrementally different from what aired last summer.  The show is a straightforward procedural for the most part, with stern Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) presiding over a squad mostly made up of veterans from The Closer (who also dominate the behind-the-scenes team).  In terms of the overall show dynamic, the one change–and it’s a welcome one–announces itself quickly, when one of Deputy District Attorney Emma Rios’s (Nadine Velazquez) first lines notes, in a semi-meta way, that she’s making an effort to be less annoying, which among other things means that the character mercifully no longer goes faint at the sight of a dead body.

The episode, written by Consulting Producer Jim Leonard and directed by Steve Robin, advanced the one significant serialized part of the story, which has had Raydor’s teen foster son Rusty (Graham Patrick Martin), a former street hustler who came into Raydor’s life as a witness to a serial killing, on the receiving end of threatening letters, which he’d been keeping a secret.  By the end of the hour, it was agreed that he’d help the police in the investigation of the threats rather than hiding from whoever’s been making them, which will presumably provide the fireworks for the season’s last few episodes.  There was also the hint that Rusty, who’s been unwilling to acknowledge his homosexuality, will start to work through that issue with therapy, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if we haven’t seen the last of the guest star young undercover cop with whom he played chess in this episode

The rest was a standard procedural mystery, with a pair of teens killed by poisoned drugs that turned out to have been doctored by the husband of the teacher one of the teens had been sleeping with, something the cops confirmed by eavesdropping on a conversation the husband had with his brother, an attorney (“an” attorney, but crucially not “his” attorney).  It all played out professionally enough, if unexcitingly.

That serves as a description of Major Crimes in general, a proficient show that does the job for TNT.  Even without the sparkplug star quality Kyra Sedgwick brought to The Closer, Crimes has ratings in the 0.8-0.9 range (but with a much larger total viewership of 5M or so, due to its older-skewing audience).  This isn’t cutting-edge dramatic television–in fact, it makes CBS procedurals like Person of Interest and Elementary look downright daring–but it provides an hour of escapism for its fans, and after almost a decade of The Closer and now Major Crimes, its producers seem very able to keep turning out reliable product.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."