June 11, 2013




MAJOR CRIMES, TNT’s spin-off of The Closer, will always have a weakness at its center, caused by the odd decision to build the show around the character of Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell), the not very likable or interesting LAPD detective who’d originally been introduced as an officious internal affairs investigator on The Closer.  But the bones of the earlier show are still there–most of Raydor’s squad were previously Kyra Sedgwick’s supporting cast–and the show is a decent summer procedural.

Last night’s Season 2 premiere, written by Co-Executive Producer Leo Geter and directed by Roxann Dawson, introduced a new antagonist for Raydor, Assistant District Attorney Emma Rios (Nadine Velazquez).  Raydor’s one major character beat on the show is that she’s become the foster mother to Rusty (Graham Patrick Martin), a former teen prostitute who’s a material witness in a serial killing case.  Rios, apart from being the Major Crimes Division’s regular prosecutor, is also the DA on that case, and she’s already strenuously objecting to the fact that Raydor has taken the boy into her home, no matter how altruistic the motives.  I wish the show hadn’t introduced Rios by making her nearly faint at the sight of a dead body (and later react almost as badly to a mere crime scene photo)–it was probably meant to humanize the character, but it sets her up all too quickly as an unworthy foe for Raydor, who of course is as tough as nails.

Aside from that, the show continued on its professional track.  Last night’s murder, a Hollywood director’s wife found stabbed in a swimming pool, wasn’t exceptional, but it had a couple of twists along the way to keep things moderately interesting (Raydor’s first instinct on the killer’s identity was wrong).  Major Crimes maintains its conceit that Raydor’s unit doesn’t just catch the killers, but has to reach a plea bargain with the culprit by the end of the episode, and that’s more awkward than it’s worth, requiring a lot of rushed interrogation room brokering in the last few minutes.  Nevertheless, the series knows how to get where it’s going, and while Raydor will always be a cold fish (which consequently constrains McDonnell), the show is buoyed by that Closer supporting cast, including G. W. Bailey (who had a choice couple of scenes in the premiere, especially one where he served as a confidante to Rusty), Tony Denison, Michael Paul Chan, Raymond Cruz, Philip P. Keene, and Robert Gossett, along with Kearran Giovanni, who joined the crew for Major Crimes.  Most of them have been playing these characters since 2005, and they have their roles on the show down pat, enjoying their occasional moments in the spotlight but mostly serving as an expert ensemble.

Major Crimes, once it settled down from its post-Closer premiere, performed comfortably for TNT at an 0.7-0.9 rating in 18-49s (like The Closer and the network’s Dallas, it overperforms with older audiences–about three-quarters of its viewers are over 50), and last night it did a bit better than that with a 1.0.  It seems well set to keep providing a weekly fix of efficient procedural through the summer.


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."