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Television Review

‘Major Crimes’: a new mission

Mary McDonnell as Captain Sharon Raydor. Mary McDonnell as Captain Sharon Raydor. (Karen Neal)
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / August 13, 2012
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If TNT had simply let Mary McDonnell become the new lead of “The Closer,” “The Closer” would have instantly become a lesser thing. The show would have tumbled down into the zombie category of “The Office” without Steve Carell or “AfterMASH.” Dead but still moving, its legacy scarred.

So creating the spinoff “Major Crimes” for McDonnell was a less unseemly way to go, in the network’s effort to keep milking “The Closer” for ratings. The supporting cast and setting of “Major Crimes” is nearly the same as “The Closer” — Provenza, Flynn, Tao, Buzz, Sanchez, and Taylor are still working the LAPD cases — but the show also has the air of a fresh start to it. By the end of tonight’s premiere at 10, we begin to learn some possibly interesting facts about the personal life of McDonnell’s Captain Sharon Raydor and her new domestic challenge.

We also begin to see how Raydor will differ from Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda in her philosophy and leadership style. Creator James Duff has altered the mission of the major crimes unit for the new show, to suit Raydor’s persona. The detectives are now expected to make deals with perps to save money by making trials unnecessary. That’s why Raydor has been put in charge – she’s a whiz with the bottom line.

I’ve liked McDonnell on “The Closer,” with her aggressive purr. She makes Raydor so controlled in her demeanor, it’s both entertaining and unnerving. Is Raydor interesting enough to hold the center of attention? Is she more than just the killjoy we’ve come to know on “The Closer”? Will she get through the hazing by her crew as well as Brenda did? Will the writing of the crimes continue to be as strong as it was on “The Closer”? I’m cautiously optimistic.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.

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Television Review

MAJOR CRIMES

Starring: Mary McDonnell, G.W. Bailey, Tony Denison, Michael Paul Chan, Raymond Cruz, Phillip P. Keene, Kearran Giovanni, Graham Patrick Martin

On: TNT

Time: Tonight, 10-11