The premise here is dirt simple. They’ve taken the buddy cop idea and found a way to work in the forensics science fad and deliver a procedural with a few twists. The show is based on a series of mystery novels by Tess Gerritsen, who introduced us to Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles in 2001. Angie Harmon plays Detective Rizzoli. She’s wanted to be a cop all of her life and is living the dream, working with a special unit out of Boston PD. Her best friend in life happens to be Dr. Maura Isles, who is the Chief Medical Examiner for the unit and is played by Sasha Alexander. These are the kind of friends who finish each other’s sentences and share a lot of history together. That’s not to say they are at all alike.
Jane Rizzoli comes from a family of cops. She’s more of a playboy who likes to mix it up with the guys. She’s got a temper and a love for the simple things. She’s a good detective because she’s like a bulldog when she’s on a case. She doesn’t worry about the niceties, and she’s loyal to a fault.
Dr. Isles is a bit of a Bones clone. She has difficulty in social settings at times, and she is an encyclopedia (for those of you under 20, look it up) of information. She has an obsessive need to cite research when confronted with a situation. She has the Spock-like aversion to making a guess or speculation of any kind. There’s a little of Monk’s OCD going on here as well. In spite of the differences, they work well. Each fills in for the other’s deficiencies, and criminals don’t stand a chance against them. She finally finds a guy who isn’t trying to kill her this season.
The detective unit includes Vince Korsak, played by McGyver’s favorite con man, Bruce McGill. He’s an easygoing guy here who manages to do the job quietly. He’s very much the heart of the unit and finds himself slowing down. There’s a lot of talk about retirement. He’s also found a new partner and fiancee in the finally-revealed Katie. He also hedges his retirement by buying the bar where the gang usually hangs out.
Jordan Bridges is Jane’s brother and a detective on the squad, Detective Frankie Rizzoli. Frankie’s eager to please and soak up as much as he can. Of course, he’s very green and prone to rookie mistakes. Together they basically solve a new crime each week.
Nina Holiday, played by Idara Victor, is the computer tech of the team. She finally gets to do some field work this season, and it both delights and frightens her. We even see her take out a tough guy, then cuff and stuff his behind.
Another new cast member is Dr. Kent Drake, played by Adam Sinclair. He’s a Scottish doctor who needs to put in some time to get another job. There’s pretty solid chemistry between him and Isles from the start. The show has developed a kind of annoyance/attraction dynamic between the two. He fits in rather quickly.
The show’s mythology arc is found with the friends’ family lives. The Sopranos’ Lorraine Bracco is the Rizzoli matriarch, Angela, who used to run the cafe inside the precinct and now work’s for Vince at his new bar. The family stuff is the framework around which the crime of the episode is broken up. The lightness of the relationship is a nice balance to the often grisly and intense crimes the pair is called upon to investigate. New members of the family arrive in season 6. We get introduced to Cuz Carlos (Cicchini), who is a slip & fall artist with a long list of lawsuits. Jane and Angela encourage Isles to make sure her apartment is accident proof to almost ridiculous lengths. We also meet Isles’ estranged father, who is played by M*A*S*H veteran David Ogden Stiers. Stiers looks pretty good for his age, and we finally learn the secret behind their estrangement. At the same time we get a good idea of where she got some of her traits from.
Of course, the real focus of the show is the chemistry between these two characters. Fortunately, it comes across quite natural and real. I can believe these ladies have known each other all of their lives. Both actresses have done these kinds of shows before. You might remember Angie Harmon from Law & Order’s heyday. And while Angie is actually not related at all to Mark Harmon, we all remember that Sasha Alexander worked with him on NCIS. I guess you could say they are co-star-in-laws.
This season follows many of the usual types of cases. Early on we lose Susie Chang, played by Tina Haung. It’s a moving episode that brings up the possibility that Susie was dirty and selling evidence. The dirt gets bad enough that Isles is suspended by the governor until it all shakes out. Each of the characters has their moments of danger. Frankie shoots a suspect who appears to be unarmed, and IA has him in their sights. He’s done unless someone can find the missing gun and put the puzzle together. Vince steps on a landmine and has a new appreciation for life.
But the big story arc for season 6 is that someone is stalking Jane. Her apartment is burned down and her financial accounts are hacked. An imbedded video proves the fire was arson, and Isles ends up being taken hostage in the vendetta against Jane. It runs throughout most of the second half of the season even while other cases dominate many of the episodes. The threat finally reaches a pitched battle in the final seconds of the series finale. A shot rings out at Vince’s wedding, and we don’t know if or who got shot.
You get 18 episodes on five discs. There’s an 8-minute feature on the stalking arc. The show continues to mix drama with both comedic and emotional moments. It’s a shame that there’s news that next season will be the last for the popular show. “I’m going to miss this when it’s over.”