A show will live or die by whether the audience responds to a character and allows that character to take the viewer into their world. I would say it’s one of the reasons why Monk has thrived and Dirt struggled before being canceled.
I’ve definitely heard complaints from people who don’t enjoy Kyra Sedgwick’s performance as Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson but I’m definitely not one of them. I delight in Segwick’s unique take of Brenda. She’s created a character who is relatable, real and endlessly entertaining. And I’m so excited that she and The Closer are back for a fourth season Monday at 9 p.m. on TNT.
The season begins with Brenda investigating a fire that has claimed the lives of four people. Jason O’Mara returns as Billy Croelick, the arsonist who got away. (His performance is so terrific, I’m even more excited for his new series Life on Mars this fall.) While Brenda and her team try to solve the case, she’s being followed by a reporter who is writing a story for the LA Times. You can imagine how well that goes.
Brenda’s personal life is also in a bit of an upheaval. She and Fritz (among my all time favorite TV romances) are renting a house — the only problems are that the landlord doesn’t allow cats, the toilet doesn’t work and Brenda refuses to unpack. The premiere showcases why I love this show — the case is intriguing, the characters compelling and the domestic situations all too familiar. The Closer remains one of my most adored TV series. Four and a half stars.
I wish I had the same kind things to say about Saving Grace but I simply can’t like this series, which returns for a second season Monday at 10 p.m. As much as I like Brenda, I dislike Grace Hanadarko (Holly Hunter). Like most people I’ve truly enjoyed Hunter’s performances over the years (Broadcast News is one of my all time favorite movies) but I find Grace so unpleasant and actually difficult to watch. With a show like this, I like to root for a character. But I’m not rooting for Grace. The series seems to think viewers should revel in Grace’s no-holds-barred approach to life but this is an occasion where I’m not picking up what they are putting down.
The season does pick up right where last season left off and its conclusion is shocking and disturbing. The show’s most compelling angle remains Grace’s relationship with Earl (Leon Rippy) and the series does bring up interesting themes and thoughts on religion, faith and forgiveness. But, alas, I’m still not a fan. Two and a half stars.
However I know many of you are fans of Saving Grace so feel free to tell me I’m wrong and I also wanted to let you know about EmbraceYourGrace.com. The site will have blog enteries from series creator Nancy Miller and many of the show’s writers. And you can register to win a Porsche or a t-shirt from the show.
Checking in on some summer series
Swingtown (Thursday, CBS, 10 p.m.): I have to tell you that the story line of Laurie and her summer school teacher is making me go haywire. I may vote it the most annoying storyline of the summer. I cannot stand it and think the sooner Swingtown can skedaddle this little romance, the better (maybe they can run away and elope?). As for the rest of the show, does it seem to you like all the characters are in a holding pattern? Susan and Janet are the most interesting characters but every week they seem to have the exact same emotional rollercoaster. I’m growing and changing. No I’m not. Yes I am! Although I’m wondering if anyone will take my business that something is definitely going to happen between Janet and Tom and a few of you have mentioned this to me before, but I’m totally onboard with the idea that Susan and Roger have some sort of history.
My Boys (Thursday, TBS, 9:30 p.m.): First of all, can we talk about how fabulous Nia Vardolos looks? I’m kind of enjoying her story line with Andy because it is making great use of Jim Gaffigan’s comedic skills. And I’m enjoying that the series is going deeper with the characters. Brendan is in a career crisis. Mike is realizing that he’s getting older and perhaps his womanizing ways aren’t the way to go. I can even be on board with the idea that Stephanie could write and have a book published in a matter of months — although I still think her character needs more to do. The only thing I’m struggling with is the Bobby/P.J. story. I still wish the show had explored that possible romance instead of immediately shutting it down. And My Boys seems too clever for "a wedding to force you to tell the guy how your really feel" plot device. What do you think?
Weeds (Monday, Showtime, 10 p.m.): We haven’t talked much about this show since the season premiere. I still cannot endorse this season. Every episode I watch, I want to take Nancy by the shoulders and shake some sense into her — she has become more and more self-centered as each season has progressed. I’m beginning to think that perhaps this show should have had a shorter shelf life because I used to love it. Also I still miss Heylia and Conrad. Discuss.
That’s all for today. I’m back on Monday with a review of the new series The Cleaner and much much more. And beginning Monday I’ll be a the Television Critics Association Press Tour in LA trying to gather up all the gossip on the fall season. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week? Write me at email@example.com. Have a great weekend.