‘Major Crimes’ Pilot Recap: “I Have a Tremendous Capacity for Ingratitude”

On Monday, TNT brought its long-running police drama ‘The Closer’ to… well, to a close. Immediately afterwards, the network then premiered that show’s spin-off, called ‘Major Crimes’. While I’ve never watched more than five minutes of ‘The Closer’, I’m made to understand that the series was pretty good. From the perspective of someone who doesn’t bring seven seasons of existing baggage into it, is the spin-off strong enough to capture a new viewer’s attention on its own?

Yes and no.

As near as I can tell, ‘Major Crimes’ is a direct continuation of ‘The Closer’, as if it were the start of that show’s new season, just without Kyra Sedgwick in the lead anymore. Aside from Sedgwick and J.K. Simmons, it looks like everyone else from the original cast is still hanging around, doing the same jobs in the same department. The pilot episode, ‘Reloaded’, makes continual references to old storylines that I’m not familiar with. Honestly, I found myself a little lost, struggling to figure out who the characters were and how they all related to one another. The episode doesn’t make much effort to reintroduce that sort of information.

From what I gathered, Sedgwick’s character, Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, was ousted in some sort of scandal. In an obvious power play, Capt. Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) steps in to replace her as the head of Major Crimes, which no one in the department is happy about. Apparently, Johnson and Raydor had a very antagonistic relationship. Most upset about this is Lt. Provenza (G.W. Bailey), who makes no secret of his disdain for Raydor.

While this internal conflict plays out, Major Crimes has to investigate a supermarket robbery that turned into a big shootout and left four of the assailants dead. The perps were all ex-military, but from different branches and with seemingly no direct connections. Eventually, it’s discovered that they met up playing an online FPS videogame called ‘Win or Die’ and frequenting a firing range called “Gun Heaven.” The ringleader of the operation turns out to be the son of one of the cops. He’d been gleaning information about police activity from his father, and using that to stay ahead of the cops when coordinating heists. At the supermarket, he’d deliberately led his crew into a trap so that they’d all get killed and no one would be able to tie him back to the crimes. Raydor figures this out but, after capturing him, convinces the D.A. to allow the kid to plead to a reduced crime in order to avoid the death penalty. This makes Provenza especially unhappy, because that’s not the way that Brenda used to do things.

Based only on this one episode, ‘Major Crimes’ seems like it has potential. Nothing about the show exactly reinvents the police procedural genre, but I enjoyed the dynamic of Raydor stepping into a job where just about everyone absolutely hates her. (This reminded me a bit of last year’s short-lived ‘Prime Suspect’ remake.) The initial case-of-the-week is also reasonably clever and compelling. I’m sure that if I were a fan of ‘The Closer’, I’d have probably gotten more out of the episode and enjoyed it more.

With that said, I don’t feel a burning need to watch this regularly. I already have too many cop shows in my life. For a new one to grab me, it needs to have a really great hook. As well made, well written and well acted as this one is, it doesn’t have that hook. I wouldn’t be opposed to watching an occasional episode if I happened to stumble across it when nothing else was on, but I won’t go out of my way to set a series recording on my DVR.

Did any fans of ‘The Closer’ catch this? Did the episode do more for you than it did for me?

1 comment

  1. Bob

    Will wait to see??? Kyra Sedgwick was the draw for the closer and her fill-in, Mary McDonnell is presented in a considerably shallower character with a clouded past. Something else that developed in the last “Closer “episodes and is carried over into “Major Crimes” is police administration becoming spineless jerks and their joining in on the efforts to screw the department. From a “Closer” fan perspective, these changes rub me the wrong direction. The first episode fell short of the promo hype for me and left me wondering if the series will survive. Some room was left for guest appearances by Kyra but that will probably be rare if at all. Her husband’s character, Fritz, on the other hand seems to have held his slot and so far, is a regular character, which will be odd because he could show up frequently but we’ll never see Brenda. He’s already been in telephone contact once???? Time will tell.

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