Stream On: Changing horses mid-stream – The Closer and Major Crimes

By on December 28, 2019

Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson is known as “The Closer” due to her innate ability to read people and obtain confessions. (


It’s rare that a TV show loses its lead actors but keeps the same setting for a continuation/spinoff. One that comes to mind is The Andy Griffith Show, which was followed successfully by Mayberry R.F.D. when Ken Berry inherited the lead from Andy Griffith. The setting and most of the cast stayed put, but the lead was now a widowed farmer on the local town council, not a sheriff, who was raising a son in Mayberry.

A continuation of NYPD Blue is in the planning stages, and 1978’s Dallas was revived in 2012. Archie Bunker’s Place featured the same lead actor in the same role as All in the Family, but with a different supporting cast.

In 2012, The Closer’s star and producer Kyra Sedgwick announced that the show, a Los Angeles-based police procedural, would end after season seven. A few weeks later, it was announced the show would have a spin-off, as most of the cast and crew were willing to produce more stories for the characters. The result was Major Crimes, with Sedgwick being replaced by Mary McDonnell, as Captain Sharon Raydor, an internal affairs officer who was in the original series, investigating Sedgwick’s character.

THE CLOSER (Amazon Prime; on-demand from other services)

“Each episode of The Closer deals with an aspect of the Los Angeles culture as it interfaces with law enforcement in the megacity. The show deals with complex and subtle issues of public policy, ethics, personal integrity, and questions of good and evil. The large character ensemble explores the human condition, touching on individual faiths, traditional religious influences in the lives and communities of contemporary society, and the breakdown and dysfunction of family systems, work teaming, and government responsibility. The first season began with Brenda Leigh Johnson (Sedgwick, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) arriving at the LAPD to lead the Priority Murder Squad (PMS), quickly renamed Priority Homicide Division (PHD), a team that originally dealt solely with high-profile murder cases.” (Wikipedia)

Johnson, an iconoclastic student of psychology, is able to read people, witnesses and suspects, and is nicknamed “the Closer” due to her ability to elicit confessions in the absence of proof. She goes too far, though, when she petulantly has an uncooperative suspect dropped off publicly in his own hostile neighborhood from a police cruiser, which results in his murder. Inspector Sharon Raydor (McDonnell, Dances with Wolves) is brought in to investigate Johnson.

It’s a dense, thrilling and thought-provoking series, not to mention fun. Here’s a four-minute trailer from TNT that shows off Deputy Chief Johnson’s trademark attributes of acumen and crazy. [TVPG]


Captain Sharon Raydor, brought in to investigate Deputy Chief Johnson, takes over her command in the continuation/spinoff Major Crimes. (

MAJOR CRIMES (Roku Channel; on-demand from other services)

“With the sudden departure of Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson sending tremors throughout the entire Los Angeles Police Department, Captain Sharon Raydor faces difficult challenges as she assumes Johnson’s former post as head of the Major Crimes Division. For one, as a former internal-affairs officer, many of her squad members do not trust her. Additionally, the controversial new rules she had instituted as head of the Force Investigation Division (FID) are reaping unintended consequences at crime scenes. Finally, the LAPD’s new cost-saving policy of striking deals with violent criminals instead of extracting confessions from them is generating additional rancor among the rank and file, particularly with Major Crimes’ senior officer, Lieutenant Provenza (G.W. Bailey, M*A*S*H and the Police Academy movies).

“Raydor’s foster son Rusty Beck (Graham Patrick Martin, Catch-22) adds more drama to Raydor’s personal life, but it bleeds into her professional life as well, since Rusty is the key eyewitness in the trial of serial killer Philip Stroh.” (Wikipedia)

Major Crimes is a seamless continuation of The Closer; here’s a two-minute trailer. [TVPG]

I received some good advice for this column from Twitter users Sneakers 1957, and Classic Film TV Cafe, who also blogs at The Classic Film and TV Cafe, which is a great resource. Join me next time for more obscure or just plain forgotten TV gems now streaming. Email me and follow Stream On OBX on Twitter.

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