Is it possible to keep your work and private lives in check when they always manage to intersect? That’s part of the premise behind the new season of TNT’s “Major Crimes,” which followed a group of cops who always had a hard time separating their work and personal lives no matter how hard they tried. Due to the show being a spin-off, the results were similar but the tone has somewhat different with the wise casting of McDonnell as the new lead.
“Major Crimes” followed Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) who was finally settling into her new role of running the LAPD’s Major Crimes division quite nicely. Raydor even found a way to incorporate Assistant Chief Taylor (Robert Gossett) into the mix without him interfering too much into the cases. She was also managing to adjust to being a reliable role model to her foster son Rusty Beck (Graham Patrick Martin). Unfortunately, she didn’t take into account a new Deputy D.A. named Emma Rios (Nadine Velazquez) who was eager to make Rusty her star witness in her upcoming murder case. She also overlooked the fact that Rusty’s dark past would now be public knowledge and could put him in the path of someone even more dangerous. Sadly, Rios’ bedside manner often left Raydor and her colleagues around her very upset. The only one that seemed to like Rios was Detective Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz), but Sanchez’s fondness for her was starting to fade after a disagreement during a recent case. Luckily, the rest of the department seemed to be up to their usual tricks, especially with Lietenant Andy Flynn (Tony Denison) and Lieutenant Provenza (G.W. Bailey) who always managed to get into some form of trouble. Their latest situation involved a witness who ended up becoming a prime suspect in a murder case, which ended up working out rather well for everyone involved. How will Raydor react when she finds out the true extent of the threats against Rusty’s life? Will the identity of the person threatening Rusty be revealed sooner rather than later?
In terms of questions, “Major Crimes” asked a number of them, but most of the questions were often resolved by the end of each episode. The biggest question of all involved Rusty’s story which included the additional threatening letters that no one else knew about yet. Hopefully, the show will have McDonnell’s Sharon or someone in Major Crimes find those letters before the season concludes. It would be an interesting scene to see how McDonnell’s Sharon would react and whether her cop, or her maternal, instincts will come into play when she lets Rusty have it for lying to her. The show was wise to explore Raydor’s past a little more by bringing in her estranged husband Jack (Tom Berenger), because his presence allowed McDonnell to show a wider range of emotions that she often doesn’t get the chance to show. She went from annoyance, relief, and back to disappointment in a matter of a few episodes on more than one occasion. McDonnell and Berenger had a comfortable rapport that was only getting even more interesting when his character suddenly departed. Hopefully, the show will bring his character back some point down the line. It would also be interesting to see if Raydor’s children will ever make an appearance, even if it was just for an episode for Rusty to meet the rest of her family. Only time will tell if that’s the case.
As for breakout stars, McDonnell led the pack because she managed to make her once coldly detached character a lot more emotionally complex and relatable to viewers. That was no small feat because the spin-off’s early episodes last season got off to such a rocky start. She managed to embody Sharon with a mother lion quality that caused her to fight back whenever she was pushed too far. Even though Velazquez’s Rios seemed mostly out of place with the cast, her presence managed to rile up McDonnell’s characters at the most appropriate times. McDonnell’s most memorable scene came towards the end of a recent episode when she received a goodbye letter from her husband. She managed to express her disappointment without saying a word and her frustration when she ripped up the letter before she read it. The material must have been all too familiar for the character that she didn’t need to read it again. Most of the supporting cast was up to the same old tricks, but Denison and Bailey were playing a larger role this season as seasoned vets who occasionally had a lapse in judgment. Of course, Denison and Bailey made the most of their comedic stories, even when some of the plots bordered on pure silliness. Let’s hope that the rest of the cast will continue to get a chance to shine in stories of their own either this season or the next one.
“Major Crimes” premiered on June 10th and airs Mondays at 9:00 PM on TNT.
Verdict: A show that has gotten better at exploring all facets of McDonnell’s character without going too far off course. Let’s hope that the show will continue to do this as the season progresses.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)