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TV spin-off ‘Major Crimes’ makes a poor case for itself

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G.W. Bailey, left, and Phillip P. Keene are major players in Major Crimes.

The Details

Major Crimes
Two and a half stars
Mondays, 9 p.m. (premieres August 13, 10 p.m.), TNT.

It’s difficult for TV networks to let go of shows that are bringing in big ratings and high-value advertising, which is why when Kyra Sedgwick announced that she’d be leaving TNT’s popular crime procedural The Closer following its seventh season, the network didn’t opt to just end the show gracefully. Instead, the setting, concept, style and most of the characters are carrying over into the spin-off Major Crimes, which premieres immediately following the final episode of The Closer.

That means that the send-off for Sedgwick’s Brenda Leigh Johnson is rushed and unsatisfying, and a good portion of the episode is spent setting up elements for Major Crimes, which puts Closer recurring character Capt. Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) in charge of Brenda’s old squad. The crimes on Major Crimes aren’t any different from those on The Closer, and the minor updates to the format bring mixed results. The quiet, rules-obsessed Raydor is a nice contrast to the brash, independent Brenda, and the shifted focus from hard-won confessions to mediated plea deals gives the show a slightly different crime-solving angle.

But the addition of a sullen teenage murder witness as a ward for Raydor is awkward and irritating, and the narrative of the squad being distrustful of Raydor and reluctant to accept her as their commander just rehashes the arc from the early episodes of The Closer. It may have gotten a little stale and sometimes melodramatic as it went on, but The Closer was a well-rounded, often clever crime drama with vivid characters. It deserves to rest in peace, not carry on as a shell of its former self.

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