VOL. 13, No. 23
The Closing of
KYRA SEDGWICK and the cast of "THE CLOSER"
Cable TV's most popular show goes out on top
By RON MILLER
This week the TNT cable network bows its head in sorrow and lets go of "The Closer," which has been ad-supported cable television's most popular show for most of its seven-season run.
Ratings have nothing to do with it. "The Closer" is still right up there at the top of the viewing measuring stick. It has to do with star Kyra Sedgwick's desire to leave the show while it's still on top and to end the risk that she'll only be remembered for one role--Deputy Chief Brenda Lrigh Johnson of The L.A.P.D.
Other lead actors have left hit shows and watched their fellow actors suffer as the network decided not to go on without the star. In Sedgwick's case, that won't be an issue. "The Clsoer" will be gone, but almost all the other characters will continue on in a new crime show with the same setting--"Major Crimes," which premieres right after the iinale of "The Closer" on Monday night (Aug. 13).
I think Sedgwick was smart to leave on a high note. Though "The Closer" has been "must see" viewing for me and millions of others for the past seven years, it may have reached the point where the progression of her character has been thwarted by certain plot developments and Brenda's future in the department was not especially promising. Sedgwick also finally won an Emmy for her performance in 2010 and really had nothing to prove by continuing in the role until the public's appetite for Brenda finally waned.
My major complaint about the series has been the sometimes heavy-handed use of comic moments that occasionally verged on silliness, particuarly the moments involving her "country-style" Mom and Dad, who spent a lot of time visiting Brenda recently. Brenda's FBI agent husband (Jon Tenney) also had become rather extraneous to most of the storylines and plots often had to be stretched a bit to keep him on screen.
Still, "The Closer" remained one of the better-wirtten police procedural crime shows on television and boasted a superb supporting cast of veteran acors, among them J.K. Simmons, Robert Gossett, G.W. Bailey, Tony Denison and Mary McDonnell, who will take over the lead role in the show in "Major Crimes."
will take over Brenda's
department in the successor
spinoff to "The Closer."
Writer-producer James Duff deserves much of the credit for creating "The Closer" and giving it the ingredients that made it a hit. I'd say those ingredients were shaping the character of Brenda Leigh Johnson around Kyra Sedgwick and giving her lots of charming vulnerabilities to kind of balance out her incisive mind and brilliant interrogatioin style, which made her usch an effective "closer" of criminal cases.
For example, fans will miss the candy Brenda hid in her desk drawers and her propensity to pull down the blinds in her office to keep us from knowing what was going on inside. I used to have an office just like that and didn't have any blinds to pull down if I wanted to eat any candy I had hidden in my desk.
I always thought Kyra Sedgwick was an underrated actress who seldom got roles that would allow her to flesh out a real character. I'd met her a couple of times when she played subordinate roles to real-life husband Kevin Bacon in TV movies and always found her quite attractive and smart. So, it was a pleasure to see her sink her teeth into a juicy role like Brenda Leigh and really go places with it. She's a full-fledged star now and ought to be able to land some even better roles in features and in TV.
In the meantime, we have this week's "Closer" finale to savor and "Major Crimes" to look forward to for the rest of the TV year.
©2012 by Ron Miller. The photos are courtesy of TNT. This column first posted Aug. 13, 2012.
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