Think of "Major Crimes" as a sort of step-down program, pushed on the nation by TNT to help us gradually get over the pain of losing "The Closer" and our beloved Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick).
"Major Crimes," debuting tonight at 10 after the series finale of "The Closer," actually doesn't require any lengthy explanation. It's essentially "The Closer" without Brenda Leigh and a couple other cast members (I won't spoil who's missing, though even a fleeting glance at the show's previews on television have already given that away).
It's the exact same show: Capt. Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell, right), who has appeared on "The Closer" for a few seasons now, steps into the lead position in the L.A.P.D.'s Major Crime unit after Brenda's departure in "The Closer's" series finale.
And I have to say, the transition from Deputy Chief Johnson to Capt. Raydor is much smoother -- and more enjoyable -- than I ever expected.
Let's face it: Raydor was never the fan favorite on "The Closer," so the writers were smart to soften that character significantly once they knew Sedgwick was leaving and talk of a spinoff began. Even fans who haven't liked Raydor much in the past (and she was pretty unlikeable there in the beginning), slowly (and perhaps, reluctantly) warmed up to her after she proved herself to be Brenda's ally and perhaps even her only friend (apart from loyal husband Fritz, played by Jon Tenney, and cat Joel, played by Jax and/or Darlie).
Does Raydor have the quirky personality of Brenda Leigh? No. Not even close. But she's just fine. In the spinoff, Raydor is tough and smart, as always, but gets a storyline designed to show viewers her softer side right away. And she gets lots of resistance from Provenza (G.W. Bailey), of course, but then so did Brenda. That's expected -- and not unwarranted, so good for Provenza for pushing back against the new boss. That said, I'm looking forward to watching Raydor slowly win him over, just as Brenda did.
In short, "Major Crimes" is really pretty enjoyable to watch, especially if you can keep yourself from thinking about Brenda Leigh while doing it. It's a perfectly good nostalgia trip for "Closer" fans who aren't quite ready to let go.
"Major Crimes" airs on Monday nights at 10 on TNT.