TV Review: Shocking Mid-Season Premiere of TNT Hit ‘The Closer’

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CHICAGO – It’s nearly impossible to write about the details of the season premiere of “The Closer” as TNT has asked us not to discuss the shocking events that open the episode so we will have to talk around the specifics more than usual. You may wonder why or how we can review an episode with no details? We’ll give it a shot because this is excellent television and we wouldn’t want to leave it un-reviewed. Television Rating: 4.0/5.0
Television Rating: 4.0/5.0

“The Closer” has earned a loyal following and consistently-impressive ratings but it sometimes gets lumped in with other serial mysteries-of-the-week like the “C.S.I.” and “Law & Order” franchises. This program is much better than your standard serial mystery for two reasons — one, it’s nowhere near as predictable in tone or execution and, two, most of those other programs don’t have an actor or actress nearly as talented as the Emmy-winning Kyra Sedgwick.

The Closer
The Closer
Photo credit: Marc Hom/TNT

One of the most interesting things about “The Closer” is how surprisingly and effectively the program’s writers, directors, and cast can shift tones from week to week. One episode may be a light mystery that allows Sedgwick, J.K. Simmons, and the rest of the cast more comedic beats than dramatic ones. The next episode can be shockingly dark. Take for example the season premiere, which opens with a scene that will take the breath away from most major fans of the program.

What allows the writers of “The Closer” to shift tones without losing focus or believability is that they’ve focused on and built these characters to the point that they can feel genuine in either intense drama or light comedy. I’m not sure Sedgwick deserved the Emmy but she’s easily one of the best actresses on television. She’s smart, sexy, and completely believable. But as great as she is, the program wouldn’t work without a strong supporting ensemble and excellent writing.

Every television development team working on a new mystery-of-the-week series should take a look at “The Closer.” The best of these programs find the perfect balance between character and mystery, not turning the investigators into faceless drones but also not losing the fact that we want to watch a crime get solved. “The Closer” finds that balance in nearly every episode and it’s only getting better.

‘The Closer,’ which airs on TNT, stars Kyra Sedgwick, Jon Tenney, J.K. Simmons, G.W. Bailey, Robert Gossett, Anthony John Denison, Michael Paul Chan, and Raymond Cruz. The mid-season premiere airs on Monday, December 6th, 2010 at 8PM CST. content director Brian Tallerico

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