Case Not Yet Closed On New TNT Series

The new deputy chief of a Los Angeles “priority murder squad” has more problems than finding out whodunit. She’s a woman in a man’s world and seems to be totally lacking in team-building skills in the new series The Closer, debuting today (June 13) on Turner Network Television.

Kyra Sedgwick (The Woodsman, Cavedweller) plays Brenda Johnson, a CIA-trained Southern gal who’s hired in over the heads of veteran cops at the L.A.P.D. because of her phenomenal skills as an investigator and interrogator, and especially for her ability to quickly close a case.

When it comes to her work, she is razor-focused. Unfortunately that doesn’t leave her much energy to devote to massaging the egos of the men around her. She’s so brusque that within 10 minutes on her initial case, her co-workers are calling her “bitch” to her face.

The setup is guaranteed to create plenty of conflict for the writers to utilize and, based on the premiere episode — the only one provided for review — the series has potential. The creative team is the same one behind FX’s successful Nip/Tuck. One of the consulting producers, Gil Garcetti, was the Los Angeles district attorney during the O.J. Simpson investigation and trial. And The Closer cast is truly racially diverse.

But there were some troubling plot elements. Johnson is a brilliantly analytical cop, but she obviously got her new gig in part because of prior relationship with her married boss, assistant police chief Henry Pope (Oz’s J.K Simmons, in a rare, somewhat romantic lead). I know that’s for grist for the coming story lines, but couldn’t she have been hired just because she’s a damn good cop? Just a thought.

And at least one character will be a hackneyed stereotype: actor G.W. Bailey (the Police Academy movies) will play the team dinosaur who spouts politically incorrect phrases when the tension gets too heavy.

The biggest problem, though, in the debut episode: the unraveling of the crime occurs mostly in Johnson’s head, revealed at the “ta da!” moment of the final interrogation. It’s sort of like an Agatha Christie novel, without so much of that pesky exposition in the middle.

Given all that, it will take a few more episodes to judge if The Closer is a keeper.

The Closer debuts June 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on TNT.