June 19, 2007


Who Needs David Caruso? (BRENDAN BERNHARD, June 19, 2007, NY Sun)

Critics seem almost obliged to go gaga about how good Kyra Sedgwick is at playing a whip-smart police chief and CIA-trained interrogator who can detect a lie before it's even left a suspect's mouth.

But what I really like about TNT's "The Closer" is not its plots or climactic interrogation scenes, riveting as these often are, but the quirky-sexy Ms. Sedgwick herself — the way she's always running rings around her hapless male boss, Assistant Police Chief Will Pope (J.K. Simmons), for instance, not to mention her principal rival, Commander Taylor (Robert Gossett). Or how she manages to cajole, boss, charm, and befuddle all the men under her command into doing whatever she wants them to do, not excluding (by and large) her maximally patient boyfriend, FBI agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney). [...]

There were also two subplots, both of which were like dessert in comparison with the main course. The first involved departmental budget cuts, leading to the worrying possibility that the oldest member of Brenda's squad, the crusty-but-endearing Detective Lieutenant Provenza (G.W. Bailey), might have to retire, but the main point was that it allowed us to enjoy watching Brenda flout every order Pope gave her by spending even more of the department's money than she usually does.

My favorite moment in the episode was when Pope, insisting that Brenda go ahead with the budget cuts, said, "Consider, just for a moment, a universe in which you work for me, and in which what I need is important too." Nice try. Brenda is not what you'd call a team player, a phrase she'd probably regard as a euphemism for agreeing to go along with the prevailing mediocrity in a given group. Her idea of team play is to do her best for the team by doing her best as an individual. There's a lot to be said for that approach, but it's amazing how many people can't quite wrap it around their team-playing skulls.

The second subplot was about Brenda's ongoing battle with boyfriend Fritz, who wants them to get a bigger house so that he can finally move his stuff out of the garage. "Don't you realize I'm working on an extremely important murder case?" Brenda asked him plaintively after he reminded her that this was the weekend they'd agreed to go house hunting together. "You're always working on an ‘extremely important' murder case," Fritz replied sarcastically, treating her to a marvelously level staredown. Somehow, Fritz manages to cater to practically all of Brenda's whims while combining understated machismo with the forbearance of a yogi.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 19, 2007 8:05 AM
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