Like it or not, you can’t talk about this show without talking about the C.S.I. phenomenon. The extreme popularity of that single show has launched an entire genre of hour-long police investigation shows that are showing up on every network, every night. There are now three different C.S.I. programs on the air, as well as military crime programs, FBI profiler programs… even a mathematical approach to crime solving with Numbers.
The latest show in this trend is The Closer, a TNT …riginal program staring Kyra Sedgewick. The twist on this program is that Sedgewick’s character is a sweet southern investigator from Atlanta who becomes the head of the Priority Murder Squad in Los Angeles. As one could discern from the title, her specialty is suspect interrogation. Despised by her colleagues because she is a female southern outsider, she must fight against criminals as well as the members of her own department to solve the crime.
While the program isn’t up to the same high quality of many of the crime dramas on the major networks, it certainly has enormous potential. I think I would compare it to the first couple of seasons of N.C.I.S.. Given enough time and creative freedom, this is a show that could grow into something really special. Right now, however, I see it as average. There are some great moments in these episodes, but it is not yet at the consistently high level of some of its competition.
The audio is something of a mixed bag. To tell you the truth, most of my problems with the audio have to do with the show itself, and not as much with the DVD quality. This show has a soundtrack that is just downright goofy. It is the kind of thing that one would much more likely find on an episode of Silk Stalkings instead of a modern crime drama. What’s worse, the music underscores almost every scene of the show. That’s just plain annoying.
The other thing that begs to be discussed is Sedgewick’s accent. As a lifelong resident of the Southern portion of the United States, I am frequently frustrated with the comical quality of southern accents in movies and on television shows. Now, that’s not to say that the South isn’t full of it’s fair share of slack-jawed yokels. The fact is, however, that many southern professionals have just a hint of a southern accent. While this accent is certainly not as bad as John Travolta’s in The General’s Daughter, it does slip into that realm from time to time. It’s bad, but it could be a lot worse.
Technically speaking, the only available option is a basic Dolby Stereo track. It is muddy at times, and doesn’t seem to have any hint of utilizing all that a stereo track can offer. Dialog is sometimes hard to hear, which can be an unfortunate thing in a show that focuses on police interrogations. Also, the subwoofer is generally not used at all, except for those rare instances when it is pushed way over the limit. Technically speaking, this is a poor soundtrack that should be much cleaner than it actually is.
The video quality on this disc is a real disappointment. The first thing that really stood out was the fact that is is displayed in full screen, non-anamorphic widescreen. If you have a full screen display, the show will show up with the widescreen black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. When watching on a widescreen display, however, the show shows up stretched, along with those same black bars on the top and the bottom of the screen. I will never understand why some shows are presented in this â€œfaux widescreenâ€ manner. This is just an insult to those consumers that own widescreen displays like I do.
Other problems include some scenes with excessive grain, and well as a prevailing dark quality that makes many details hard to see. For me, this combination of factors means that TNT has taken quality source material and gradually chipped away at it until releasing a final DVD product that only hints at the impressive nature of the original source material.
The first season of a new television show is a perfect opportunity for all sorts of fascinating special features. Pilot commentaries, featurettes that discuss creative decisions, casting tapes… there are all great things that viewers should expect to see. However, all that we have here are deleted scenes on six of the episodes. As is almost always the case, these segments were deleted for a reason, as they really add nothing to the episodes. Hopefully, more in-depth extras will be included on the second season release.
The story here is not the video quality, or the audio, or the copycat nature of this show. If The Closer is going to make it, it will be solely on the shoulders of Kyra Sedgewick’s amazing performances. This is just the role that Sedgewick has been looking for. Sure, other actresses might have been able to handle this role, but her unique perspective on this character is charming, humorous and compelling. This program is one of those little known secrets on the air today, and I can only hope that the release of this DVD will help its popularity to grow.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes