You know, I was pretty excited when it was announced that Mary McDonnell would be doing an extended guest spot on The Closer–two strong women going toe-to-toe sounded like a lot of fun. Too bad I was wrong–the presence of McDonnell’s internal affairs-type cop has highlighted what’s made The Closer less fun over the years: Deputy Chief Johnson’s blazing lack of professionalism. The show keeps trying to tell us Brenda’s coming out on top, but the actions she takes to get her results don’t make her look like much of a winner.
There’s no question that pretty much everyone who ends up in Major Crimes’ interrogation room is reprehensible (and since Brenda is never, ever allowed to be wrong, they almost without exception deserve to be punished). But the show seems to be getting closer and closer to the idea that since these people are reprehensible, it’s okay for Brenda to do absolutely anything in order to wring a confession from them and give them that punishment they so richly deserve. “Three Strikes,’ in which two policemen are killed by Aryan gang members (who, as if we needed additional reason to despise them, are also running meth), edged right up to asking the audience to cheer for waterboarding.
The show sets Brenda’s rage and grief over two of the (very) good guys being killed by the (very) bad guys up against Captain Raydor’s more pragmatic claims that investigating cases correctly and following the rules protects the good guys (mostly from the threat of lawsuits, which is somewhat less sexy than Brenda’s emotional appeals). And Brenda’s insistence that Raydor’s rules make the job of convicting criminals harder probably resonates with the audience’s wishes that justice was easier to come by, suggesting that maybe it’s okay to bend those rules in order to protect society from the worst of the worst. But when Raydor has to march into the scene and demand that our main characters put a stop to Culprit #1 trying to strangle Culprit #2 with handcuffs in the back of a police car rather than standing around enjoying the show, they’ve crossed the thin blue line. The rules that create a free society are only meaningful when they protect the worst in that society along with the best, and our crew seems to have an interest only in the kind of justice that punishes criminals, not in the kind that ensures it’s only the guilty who are punished. Ending an episode that shows that Brenda and her crew are more than happy to turn their back on American ideals as long as it helps them get a confession by zooming in on an American flag being lowered to half-mast is audacious indeed.
Brenda’s audacity has recently taken a turn that asks us to believe that a woman who would disregard basic rights, tell lies, pout about her team doing their jobs, and use her cat’s death to manipulate people is someone who is good at her job because she always gets her man. But being good at a job isn’t limited to an end result–to some extent, the journey matters as much as the destination, and as long as Brenda continues down this unprofessional road, it’s less fun to take that journey with her. Don’t make us cheer for Captain Raydor, Brenda–we already thought she should have your Emmy nomination slot. Don’t make us think she should have your show, too.
Oh, squee and a half–it’s Mary McDonnell on The Closer tonight (and for at least a few episodes beyond)! You may recall Ms. McDonnell from her Emmy-winning–OR IT HAD BETTER BE–role as President Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica, in which she rocked the airlock hard. She also recently appeared as a surgeon with Asperger’s Disorder on Grey’s Anatomy. She had a multi-ep arc on both ERandE/R, as well as roles on Touched by an Angel and High Society. And that’s not even counting her Oscar-nominated turns in Dances with Wolves and Passion Fish. I’d have loved her forever even without Roslin, just for being Donnie Darko’s mom. Now she’ll take on Chief Johnson as a hard-nosed Internal Affairs investigator. Put ‘em out the airlock, Captain Raydor! Tonight on TNT at 9pm Eastern and Pacific.
I kinda like FBI Agent Fritzie (Jon Tenney), so I wonder occasionally what he sees in Brenda Leigh Johnson. Sure, I love her, but I love her as a hard-nosed cop who makes cool intuitive leaps. If I had to live with her, the Bacon Universe version of Deputy Chief Johnson would be investigating how the real Deputy Chief Johnson’s hacked-up corpse ended up in the garbage disposal.
Still, Fritz seems to be sticking it out, and the new season of The Closer that begins on TNT tonight finds the newlyweds negotiating both marriage and a case both the LAPD and the FBI want. Brenda and Fritz can be married all they want, as long as we get to see lots of Provenza (GW Bailey), Flynn (Tony Denison) and Tao (Michael Paul Chan).
TNT also brings back legal drama Raising the Bar, which did not raise the bar when it debuted last year. I may try it again for the love of Jane Kaczmarek, for said love runs deep. If they expect me to stick with it, though, they’re going to have to come up with twistier storylines and retreads of things we saw on Law and Order a decade ago. Fleshing out the characters and their relationships would be a bonus, too. They’ve gotten a second chances, so we’d love to see them take advantage of it. Opening the season mocking Mark-Paul Gosselaar‘s hair seems like a good sign.
The Closer premieres at 9pm Eastern and Pacific, with Raising the Bar immediately following, both on TNT.
It was a cruel autumn break, making us wait to find out if Detective Sanchez survived being shot by Columbine-esque teen conspirators on The Closer. I like Sanchez, and although I think the supporting cast could use a little culling so we could focus more on them instead of on the Travails of Brenda Leigh Johnson (oh, look–her parents are back to badger her about a wedding again. Hey, could they get a spinoff?), I’d hate to think what Sanchez’s death would do to Provenza. So I’ve been crossing my fingers pretty hard for a long time now, and I think we’re all ready for an answer. In addition to finding out what happens with that storyline, the crew works on a case that might be suicide or might be…muuuuuurrrrrder.
TNT gives us an extra treat with the premiere of Trust Me, a show about ad executives. We know these things go in cycles (procedural begets procedural; paranormal begets paranormal), but we never would have guessed we’d get a spate of shows about the inner workings of marketing firms. Maybe this will end up being a modern-day Mad Men, but there’s a good chance we won’t care, as stars Eric McCormack (Will and Grace, Dead Like Me) and Tom Cavanagh (Ed, Scrubs, Eli Stone) give us some pretty high hopes. The Closer shows at 9pm Eastern and Pacific, with Trust Me following immediately at 10; both shows repeat several times.
This year’s Screen Actors Guild nominations, announced this morning, seem to look an awful lot like last year’s SAG nominations. There were only a few surprises, among them well-deserved nods for Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss and Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union. Also, oddly, this is the first year that House has been nominated for an ensemble award by SAG.
The 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 25, 8 p.m. ET/PT. Recipients of the stunt ensemble honors will be announced from the SAG Awards red carpet during a live pre-show webcasts.
A complete list of primetime television nominees is behind the cut…
The 66th annual Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Although the televised ceremony (AKA the drinky Oscars) is generally a rip-roaring good time due to the mingling of film and television stars and the copious amounts of alcohol consumed by attendees, the awards themselves are invariably somewhat dubious, given as they are by a small group of irrelevant journalists known for being easily swayed by studio marketing campaigns. Still, they’re awards, so we’re gonna talk about ‘em.
For the most part the nominees this year are exactly who think they are: 30 Rock, The Office, Mad Men, Dexter, House, etc. Once again we are bored to tears by been-there-done-that nominations for Tony Shaloub, Mariska Hargitay and anyone connected with Entourage. There is some pleasure to be gained by the nods for Cranford, January Jones and Neil Patrick Harris. On the other hand, multiple nominations for Californication and True Blood just go to show that absolutely anything can get nominated for an award if it airs on premium cable, and the total exclusion of Pushing Daisies suggests the HFPA doesn’t even watch TV.
A complete list of television nominees is under the cut…
• Spin-offs are in the air: Showtime is spinning off The L Word‘s Alice (Leisha Hailey) and TNT is plotting a spin-off of The Closer, although it’s unknown whether that one will focus on an existing character or a new one.
• Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz is developing a new comedy for CBS about a family that “loves too much.” I’m already excited, although I can’t quite imagine how it’ll fit into CBS’ current comedy lineup.
• The Cylon-centric Battlestar Galactica movie starts shooting Monday, with familiar faces Edward James Olmos (Admiral Adama), Michael Trucco (Sam Anders), Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol) and Dean Stockwell (Cavil), Tricia Helfer (Six), Grace Park (Boomer/Athena), Rick Worthy (Simon), Matthew Bennett (Doral) and Callum Keith Rennie (Leoben).
Forget barbecuing. Why battle bugs, heat prostration and burned burgers when you can spend your Labor Day in air conditioned comfort, racked out on the couch in front of the TV?
That’s what the cable networks seem to expect you do anyway, since they’ve planned a whole slew of TV marathons to help you wile away the last rays of summer.
For those who want to spend the whole three-day weekend in a nostalgic stupor, VH1 Classic has lined up 80 Hours of the ’80s starting Friday at 4 p.m., and featuring an A-to-Z showcase of videos, an 80 Greatest Songs of the ’80s special, and more.
On Sunday, AMC has a five-episode Mad Men marathon to catch you up on all of this season’s episodes, starting at 5 p.m. and ending with a new episode at 10 p.m.
Starting at midnight on Sunday night (or is that Monday morning?) SOAPNet has a 24-hour “mega-marathon” of Beverly Hills, 90210 to help get you ready for the premiere of The CW’s spin-off.
Moving on to Monday, USA has a Monk marathon starting bright and early at 6 a.m.
FX has That 70′s Show all day starting at 7 a.m.
TV Land will be showing I Love Lucy from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a seven-hour Scrubs marathon at 4 p.m.
A&E is offering a CSI: Miami marathon at 8 a.m.
Hallmark has Murder She Wrote all day starting at 8 a.m.
Sci Fi Channel will be showing Star Trek: The Next Generation from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
TNT will be airing 12 episodes of The Closer starting at 9 a.m., and ending with a new episode at 9 p.m.
The Travel Channel has a marathon of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations starting at 9 a.m.
The Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs marathon runs from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Spike TV will be showing CSI from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
TBS is offering a 20-episode House of Payne marathon starting at 10 a.m.
ABC Family has a My Wife and Kids marathon on tap at noon.
Food Network has seven hours of Unwrapped starting at noon.
BBC America will be showing a marathon of Pink Panther movies starting at 12:30 p.m. (which is what we’ll be watching in my house).
And, of course, for the traditionalists, there’s always the Jerry Lewis Telethon.
With the return tonight of The Closer and Saving Grace, along with the recent premiere of witness protection drama In Plain Sight, we’re seeing a run on shows focusing on female protagonists who are tough as nails on the beat and weighed down by personal problems the rest of the time. For these characters, the thin blue line might refer to their police work, or it might refer to a pregnancy test. While Police Woman opened the door for a female-driven cop show, and Cagney and Lacey laid out the blueprint for female cops who had heavy caseloads and troubled personal lives, this template seems to have been dominated recently by the likes of Andy Sipowicz and Vic Mackey. (In other words, we really miss Helen Mirren and Prime Suspect.) It’s nice to have you back, ladies.
Of the two shows returning to TNT tonight, Saving Grace may be the more ambitious, with its explicit religious questioning and emphasis on Grace’s (Holly Hunter) redemption or fall. Still, we might be slightly partial to Brenda Leigh Johnson’s (Kyra Sedgwick) band of merry madcaps. The journey from alienating the Southern newcomer to staunchly standing behind their leader has been an impressive arc for that crew, too, and one made all the more fun by watching Brenda cross swords with Chief Pope (the brilliant J. K. Simmons) or try to corral Dets. Flynn and Proveza (underappreciated MVPs Tony Denison and G. W. Bailey). While Brenda isn’t quite as much of a mess as Grace, her sparring partners make her wobbling really entertaining. New episodes of both shows tonight on TNT, starting at 9pm Eastern.
The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films has announced the nominations for the 34th annual Saturn Awards, with ABC’s Lost garnering seven nods in the television categories. Showtime’s Dexter scored five noms and NBC’s Heroes received four.
The Academy, founded in 1972 by film historian Donald A. Reed, is a nonprofit organization devoted to honoring, recognizing and promoting genre entertainment. The Saturn Awards will be handed out on June 24 in Universal City, Calif. A full list of nominees can be found behind the cut… Continue reading →