Farewell to Kyra Sedgwick's character on 'The Closer'

It's goodbye , Kyra Sedgwick, left, bowing out of "The Closer" after a terrific run, and hello, Mary McDonnell, front and center in "Major Crimes."
It's goodbye , Kyra Sedgwick, left, bowing out of "The Closer" after a terrific run, and hello, Mary McDonnell, front and center in "Major Crimes."
Posted: August 12, 2012

It's time to say goodbye to Brenda Leigh Johnson's sing-song, Georgia-scented " thank you!"

The LAPD interrogator par excellence played with delightful quirk, brilliant intelligence, and disarming cunning by Kyra Sedgwick will take her leave on the season finale of TNT's The Closer at 9 p.m. Monday.

The episode also will transition viewers to the series premiere of TNT's spin-off, Major Crimes, at 10 p.m. Set in the same squadroom, Major Crimes retains most of the Closer regulars we've grown to love, or in the case of Capt. Sharon Raydor, to loathe. But more on Raydor below.

In Brenda Johnson, Sedgwick has created one of the strongest female characters on TV and one of the most conflicted. Behind the twang and the drawer-full of assorted candies, chocolates, and lollipops, Sedgwick is torn between her obsessive zeal for the job and her home life, which has been kept from teetering into the abyss by her patient husband, FBI Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney).

Sedgwick told reporters last winter the last episodes of The Closer would break her. And how!

The final six episodes have brought heartbreak. Her father almost died and then her mother did die. In the penultimate episode last week, we found out that Brenda's confidant David Gabriel was the source of the dreaded departmental leak that threatened to end her career and send her to jail.

The series finale will bring Brenda face to face with one of her fiercest opponents, the slimy killer-lawyer Philip Stroh ( Twilight's Billy Burke in a seductively serpentine turn). Then she'll be gone. Not dead, as Sedgwick has assured fans, but gone for good.

We've got unfinished business with Capt. Raydor, the Internal Affairs investigator who has been trying to expose Brenda's alleged crimes.

Because, it turns out, she's the cop who inherits Brenda's job as head of major crimes - much to the horror of returning major crimes Detectives Louis Provenza (G.W. Bailey), Andy Flynn (Anthony John Denison), and Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz).

Played with a baffling mix of understatement and hyperbole by Battlestar Galactica's Mary McDonnell, Raydor is, in a word, insufferable.

The foolish self-assurance and creepy, schoolmarm mannerisms that made McDonnell's Raydor such a good - and eminently mockable - foil to Brenda Johnson in The Closer make her a terrible choice as series lead. One wonders what the suits at TNT were thinking.

In the premiere episode - it's about machine-gun-carrying ex-servicemen who rob supermarkets - Raydor shows up late at the crime scene wearing a black raincoat tied so tight around the waist one wonders whether she can breathe. McDonnell plays her as a mousy, glum, listless, and bored interloper. Sadly, her lack of energy infects the rest the cast. More troubling still is McDonnell's decision to crank up Raydor's odd, off-putting mannerisms and speech patterns. At times, she comes off as a Saturday Night Live version of Christopher Walken, for- e!-ver put ting! a high!-pitched stress on the weird!-est syll!able.

When she's riled up, Raydor has a tendency to e-nun-ci-ate ev-er-y sy-lla-ble care-full-y in a Mary Poppins-on-heroin, singsong voice, her hands jabbing the air in rhythm. Tick-tock-tick-tock-dot-dash-dot-dash. She talks to people as though she's a sadistic kintergarden teacher addressing naughty toddlers.

  McDonnell is a wonderful actor and it's clear she developed this character as a semicomic antagonist to Sedgwick's Brenda Johnson. It's equally clear she won't be able to sustain it much longer if she wants Raydor to flourish.

If Major Crimes proves anything, it's how indispensable Sedgwick was to The Closer.

Contact Tirdad Derakhshani

at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

TV Reviews

The Closer

9 p.m. Monday on TNT.

Major Crimes

10 p.m. Monday on TNT.

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