January 13, 2014

THE SKED Season Finale Review: “Major Crimes”


The Season 2 finale of TNT’s MAJOR CRIMES, intended to pay off the show’s one serialized storyline, about Rusty (Graham Patrick Martin), the teen ward of series protagonist LAPD Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) and witness to a murder committed by imprisoned serial killer and attorney Philip Stroh (who was originally introduced back in The Closer), was hindered by the fact that Stroh had been played by Billy Burke, now starring in NBC’s Revolution, who was either unavailable or unwilling to make an appearance.  So the character didn’t show up for the hearing that the season had been building toward, which made things feel somewhat anticlimactic.

Instead the episode, written by Executive Producer Adam Belanoff and directed by series creator James Duff, concentrated on Stroh”s minion, a serial murderer himself who’d written threatening letters to Rusty and, at Stroh’s orders, stalked and eventually tried to kill him, and who turned out to be a counselor to troubled youths named Wade Weller.  Tracking down Weller took the show down a fairly familiar procedural path, and the episode’s final confrontation didn’t threaten Rusty’s life, but rather a relatively random client/target of Weller’s.  In the end, crusty (and newly-eyeglassed) Lt. Provenza (G.W. Bailey), who’s become Rusty’s surrogate grandpa, planted a bullet right between Weller’s eyes to remove the threat.

The finale was different from a routine Major Crimes episode only around the edges:  Sharon betrayed more emotion than her tightly reined-in usual, and the script danced closer to Rusty admitting his homosexuality, about which he’s been conflicted since the series began.  The court hearing, which was probably originally meant to feature Stroh representing himself, instead had guest star Jeri Ryan doing a capable job of provoking Rusty on the stand until he (a talented chess player) trapped her into making Stroh’s threatening letters admissible in court.

Major Crimes is a reliable performer for TNT, and that’s what it is in general, a well-paced, reasonably intelligent but unexceptional procedural.  McDonnell’s character doesn’t have the flair or humor that predecessor Kyra Sedgwick gave The Closer, and there’s much less about the internal politics of the LAPD here than that show used to feature.  ADA Rios (Nadine Velazquez) became a less annoying and silly character over the course of the season (she stopped swooning at the sight of dead bodies), but occasional hints of a relationship between her and Detective Sanchez (Raymond Cruz) have so far gone nowhere.  Instead the show has leaned heavily on Provenza’s reluctant aging and Lt. Flynn’s (Anthony Denison) attempts to turn around his blood pressure and his relationship with his adult daughter.  The only real relationship in the series is the one between Sharon and Rusty, and that’s nicely played if also a little synthetic.

Already renewed for next season, Major Crimes is especially popular with older audiences, and despite the occasional high-tech surveillance gadget, it has an old-fashioned feel.  Combined with The Closer, which shared most of the same cast and creative team, the franchise has been on the air now since 2005, and seems to have the stamina to extend well into a second functional decade.

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."