August 20, 2013



TNT’s MAJOR CRIMES, like its predecessor The Closer, belongs to the “procedural-plus” subgenre, with a crime to be solved every week combined with a secondary amount of continuing serialized plot.  However, there was very little of the “plus” to be found in tonight’s season finale (really a half-season finale, with the show scheduled to resume in November), and since this was one of the less interesting procedural stories of the season, it wasn’t a terribly satisfying conclusion to the year’s first run of episodes.

The script, by Co-Executive Producer Leo Geter (directed by Michael M. Robin), was different from most Major Crimes episodes in that it lacked any whodunnit element–we were clearly shown who the killer was early on.  Since he turned out to be no more than a garden-variety psychopath (he had come to LA to become a reality show star and callously murdered the people he envied or who failed to help him), the only thing of interest was the hour’s reliance on new media.  There were featured roles for instant messaging and Skype, as an errant one of the first read by the killer spurred him to a murder he might not have otherwise committed, and Major Crimes honcho Captain Sharon Raynor (Mary McDonnell) used the latter to flush him out by making him think he was on live TV–which unwittingly led to his “on-air” suicide.

As for the “plus,” it took up no more than five minutes of the episode, as first Deputy District Attorney Rios (Nadine Velazquez) and then Sharon finally discovered that Sharon’s teen foster son, ex-prostitute and murder witness Rusty (Graham Patrick Martin), had been receiving and hiding threatening notes from the serial killer against whom he was due to testify.  Since this came at the very end of the hour, it formed the show’s summer cliffhanger, with the possibility (not a very strong one) that he could be removed from Sharon’s custody.  The Rusty story, which is all that separates Major Crimes from a bare-bones procedural, has never been particularly strong–much of this season danced around the likelihood that he’s gay and his not wanting to tell the cute girl from school who’d like to be more than his study partner–and it was perhaps fitting that it ended anticlimactically.

The only other significant Season 2 development was the introduction of Rios as a regular character, which has not been the show at its strongest.  Velazquez has the burden of playing an arrogant coward who isn’t as smart as she thinks she is, often screwing up in court and nearly fainting at the sight of blood, yet the character isn’t dismissible as comedy relief, since she’s meant to be a genuine threat to Rusty’s ability to stay with Sharon.  (Every so often there’s a hint that Rios might become involved with Raymond Cruz’s Detective Sanchez, but so far it’s come to little.)  Tom Berenger had a bright few episodes as Sharon’s down-on-his-luck lawyer ex, and apart from that it was business as usual, with Provenza (G.W. Bailey) cracking wise about getting old, and Flynn (Tony Denison) worrying about his blood pressure and unable to handle a cleanse.

With McDonnell’s Raynor at the helm instead of Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda Leigh Johnson, Major Crimes isn’t and probably will never be as engaging as The Closer was, even though the series has tried to soften Raynor’s edges a bit from her days as Brenda Leigh’s Internal Affairs adversary.  Nevertheless, it’s a reliably professional piece of work with an excellent ensemble, most of it together since the start of The Closer in 2005, and very popular with older viewers (a recent episode with elderly guest stars like Tim Conway and Doris Roberts may have been a nod to the show’s most numerous fans).  With more than 5 million people watching each week, it even accumulates a decent 18-49 rating, in the 0.7-0.9 range (20% or less of its total viewers), and it’s already been renewed for Season 3.  It’s a show that fills a need, and television will always have use for those.


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."