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Closer: The Complete Fifth Season, The

Warner Bros. // Unrated // June 29, 2010
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted July 1, 2010 | E-mail the Author
The Series:
Police Officer:  You do realize, ma'am you can't question him without his lawyer?
Deputy Chief Johnson:  I don't intend to question him.  I intend to have him revoke his right to an attorney and then I intend to watch him confess.
The Closer returns for a fifth season and the show isn't showing any signs of slowing down.  These 15 episodes are just as good as the ones that preceded it, which is a pleasant surprise.  Usually by the fifth season a program starts to show its age, but that's not the case here.  The mysteries are still intriguing and the way that Brenda pulls confessions out of a defendant are just as amazing as ever, and all feel realistic.
This year there's a slight change in the line up in the Major Crimes department as Detective Irene Daniels (Gina Ravera) leave the unit, and there's a change at home too, as Brenda (Kyra Sedgwick) looses a loved one and temporarily adds another when her niece (played by real life daughter Sosie Bacon) takes up lodging at the Johnson household.  In the squad room the detectives have some personal issues too, with Sgt. Gabriel (Corey Reynolds) pining for the woman who has left him and Sgt. Provenza (G. W. Bailey) starting to date a twenty-something year old woman who decides to update his wardrobe. 
The real meat of this season is the cases of course, and this year they've added a new foil for Lt. Deputy Johnson, namely Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell, Battlestar Galactica) from Internal Affairs.  Raydor butts heads with the head of Major Crimes in three episodes, always insisting that her investigation of possible misconduct on the part of the LAPD takes precedent over solving a murder, something Brenda strenuously disagrees with.  It was nice to see Brenda dealing with strife in her work life once again, which was a big part of the first couple of seasons, but this trio of shows was only partially satisfying.  They demonized Raydor a bit too much, making her the unequivocal bad guy and not really making her likable at all.  The best conflicts are between two people who are both partially right, and that didn't happen in this case.  Also in her final appearance she asks Brenda to bend the rules for you, something that was breaking from her character since she's was such a stickler for following the rules in the earlier shows.
This season has a couple of light, humorous episodes as the previous years did.  These are always highlights of the season, and that true for season five too.  The first one was Tapped Out, where Chief Pope, Sgt. Provenza, and Lt. Flynn come across a murder scene after eating breakfast.  They talk to the detective on the scene, a Richard Tracy, who turns the scene over to major crimes.  Pope hands him the evidence he's collected so it can be logged in, a loaded gun and some spent shells, but when he contacts the evidence room later he discovers that they were never sent down.  It takes Brenda to point out that handing a loaded gun to a man claiming to be Detective Dick Tracy probably wasn't the brightest idea.  Tracy is consistently one step ahead in the investigation, searching the victim's apartment and interviewing the closest relatives before Major Crimes can arrive.  It's frustrating for them, to say the least, but quite hilarious too.
The best episode this season was one directed (quite expertly) by Sedgwick's husband actor Kevin Bacon.  This rather serious episode involves a man who dresses up like a ninja and murders woman.  It turns out that there have been over a dozen murders with the same MO across the country and Brenda teams up with an officer from Texas to try to capture the villain with the understanding that the person who has the strongest evidence when he's apprehended will be able to try the murderer in their state.  It's a very exciting episode, with an impressive car chase scene, some excellent detective work, and a wily serial killer.
As always the acting was top-notch with the ensemble cast doing a wonderful job.  Sosie Bacon was the most surprising element to this year's cast.  She did a fantastic job.  I was fearful that she wouldn't be able to act and just got the part because her mother is the star of the show.  While the latter certainly played a part, she played the role of a grumpy teenager perfectly.  (I have a pair of teenagers myself, and I can tell you with some authority that they really act just like Sosie did.)  She's got a bright future in acting if she chooses to pursue it.   
The DVD:

The fifteen episodes that comprise the fifth season of The Closer are presented on four DVDs.  These come in a single-width keepcase with two 'pages' that hold all four discs.  This is housed in a slipcase.  A very nice compact set.  The only gripe I have, the same with previous season sets, is that Kyra Sedgwick's photo on the cover, as well as on the DVD menus, has been heavily touched up to make her look like a blond bombshell.  That's too bad because that's not the role she plays in the show, and she looks great naturally.
This series comes with a DD 5.1 English soundtrack, which fits the show well.  The dialog is clear and the range is adequate.  There is some use of the soundstage, but since this is a dialog based show much of the audio is firmly centered on the screen thought he surrounds are employed at times.  The only subtitles available are French and Spanish.  Inexplicably there are no English subtitles. 
As with the earlier season sets, this show comes with a nice 1.78:1 widescreen picture which is anamorphically enhanced.  The image looked very good.  The colors were strong, the image was sharp and the detail was fine.  The show was a tad dark in some places, and there is some grain but that is undoubtedly the way the creators intended it.  On the digital side, there was a bit of aliasing present in the background, but this was minor.
The extras are similar to what has appeared on the last couple of sets.  Unfortunately there are still no commentary tracks.  There are a few deleted scenes that accompany five episodes, a brief gag reel, and a series of comments by the producer about each episode.  This last featurette is presented as a map, and by highlighting various locations viewers can access the comments.  Unfortunately there isn't a 'play all' button for this. 
Final Thoughts:
The Closer is my favorite detective show that's currently in production.  A police procedural that doesn't end when the crook is captured, the ways that Deputy Chief Johnson drags confessions out of the perpetrators is both compelling and makes for some excellent drama.  Highly Recommended.
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Highly Recommended

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