We're off to a great start with this one. I had to watch it more than once to see it for itself, but three things soon became apparent to me while watching the pilot of The Closer: a) this is a star vehicle with a difference, a great supporting cast; b) LA is a character in the show, not just the backdrop and; c) whoever claims this show isn't drawn in large part from the British series Prime Suspect is fibbing - big time. Good thing all three were major draws for me, enough to keep me coming back for more.
The episode starts with Brenda arriving at one of LA's too-frequent high profile murders, and entering the male dominated world of the LAPD. She soon makes herself known, and gets her male compatriots' backs up. In their eyes she has two strikes against her: she's an outsider and female, and taking over the investigation from an esteemed colleague who's none to pleased himself. But Brenda soon proves her mettle, and her skill, and slowly wins the grudging regard of her team.
More than losely based on Helen Mirren's Inspector Jane Tennison, Kyra Sedgwick's Brenda Lee Johnson has been aptly, if unoriginally, described as a steel magnolia. And yes, there are a number of plot points clearly drawn from PS I. But the show is no knock-off of the British classic; rather, they use the premise as a skeleton on which to build a show that's entirely an American police procedural, gritty and witty in equal measures.
Along the way, The Closer uses to tremendous effect their consulting producer, former LA District Attorney Gil Garcetti. His inside knowledge of the LAPD and the city of Los Angeles take LA from being an arbitrary city setting to a character in the show, with a unique and enticing set of charateristics that the show can plumb for some time to come. This is LA the way a resident knows it, not the mythic LA of entertainment industry myth, and cliche.
The pilot was a strong indication of the show's promise; now in its second season as I write this, it has more than lived up to the potential shown here, building on its two greatest assets: its ensemble cast lead by Kyra Sedgwick, and LA itself. And if the cases themselves are the simplest part of the show, so what? I watch this show for the people who solve the crimes, not the crimes that are solved. The Closer is perfect summer entertainment, and far better than many of the highly hyped and sadly overrated regular season newcomers earning recent Emmy nominations. This is good, solid, meat-and-potatoes TV. Another portion, please?