Not ratings-wise — in that sense, putting “Major Crimes” up after Brenda Leigh’s swan song is probably the smartest decision TNT could have made. But creatively, a bit of a breath might have served the new show well.
Because even though “Major Crimes” actually manages pretty well to establish its own tone and rhythm in Monday’s (Aug. 13) series premiere, it still has much of the same cast, some of the same sets — heck, even the same style for its opening titles as “The Closer.” All of that could make it easy to dismiss the show as “The Closer Minus Brenda,” but that’s not what’s happening.
For starters, the show has given itself the gift of building around a very different female character. Sharon Raydor is light-years ahead of Brenda in terms of political savvy, but after years of working under Brenda, Raydor’s brand of leadership is not exactly welcome by the squad’s holdovers. It’s not hard to see why — this is, after all, the woman who has been looking disapprovingly over their shoulders for the past couple years.
The squad was initially skeptical of Brenda too, but that was because they didn’t know her. Raydor has been an outsider by choice, not circumstance, and that could be pretty rich territory for the show to explore.
It’s also pretty evident that “Major Crimes” is going to be more of an ensemble show than its predecessor. Mary McDonnell isn’t even on screen for a good portion of the premiere, and seeing characters like Provenza, Flynn and Sanchez get to open up a little more will help make the familiar seem a little fresher.
So the initial impression is a hopeful one for “Major Crimes,” but it will probably take a while to get out from “The Closer’s” shadow. What did you think of the premiere?