Even after four seasons, THE CLOSER remains one of best shows on television- period. For my money, THE CLOSER continues to score because it is a character-based series that blends its own unique mixture of deduction, humor and drama into the tried and true realm of the police procedural. Again, giving credit where credit is due, the majority of the show’s success rests squarely on the shoulders of actress Kyra Sedgwick, whose portrayal Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson is one of the most vivid and one of the absolute best presently on cable television. The premise of THE CLOSER finds Chief Johnson in charge of the Los Angeles police department’s major investigative unit. With a CIA background in interrogation, Brenda Leigh Johnson is as shrewd as they come; not only can she zero in on a perpetrator, she almost always secures a confession directly from their lips. Despite her professionalism and obvious job skills, Brenda’s always seems to have a problem getting her ducks in a row, when it comes to her personal life.
The cast of THE CLOSER also features J.K. Simmons as Assistant Police Chief Will Pope, who was once romantically involved with Brenda. Corey Reynolds is Sargent David Gabriel, the first member of the investigative unit to come around to Brenda’s side. G.W. Bailey is Detective Lieutenant Provenza, who is slightly cantankerous, decidedly old school and one of the series most consistently amusing characters. Anthony John Denison is Detective Andy Flynn, who, along with Provenza, have gained tremendous respect for Brenda- and not only because she pulled both of their butts out to the fire. Robert Gossett as Commander Taylor, who continues to resent Brenda for getting the position he feels he was due. The remaining members of the Deputy Chief Johnson’s unit include Michael Paul Chan as Detective Mike Tao, Raymond Cruz as Detective Sanchez, Gina Ravera as Detective Daniels. Finally, we have Jon Tenney ad Brenda’s fiancé FBI Agent Fritz Howard, who occasionally gets drawn into her investigations. Look for reoccurring appearances by Frances Sternhagen as Brenda’s mother Willie Rae and Barry Corbin as Brenda’s father Clay Johnson. Season four also features a couple of appearances from Amy Sedaris as Fritz’s "clairvoyant" sister Claire.
THE CLOSER: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON ($40) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features the following fifteen episodes that were aired during year four: Controlled Burn, Speed Bump, Cherry Bomb, Live Wire, Dial M For Provenza, Problem Child, Sudden Death, Split Ends, Tijuana Brass, Time Bomb, Good Faith, Junk In The Trunk, Power Of Attorney, Fate Line and Double Blind. Stories that play out over season four include the Priority Murder Division falling under media scrutiny and being disbanded; the Major Crimes Division arises from the ashes of the old department; a member of the squad takes a bullet; the families gather as Brenda and Fritz's wedding rapidly approaches, and the soon to be married couple finding themselves distracted from the happiest day of their lives by professional matters.
Warner Home Video has made all fifteen episodes from THE CLOSER: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The episodes are on par with what we have seen for the past two seasons. Image sharpness and detail are really nice for this type of cable television production. Colors are at a natural level of saturation, while the flesh tones come across in an appealing manner. Blacks are generally quite accurate, while the whites are crisp and stable. Contrast is smooth and comes across better than what one sees on television shows that feature sitcom lighting. The film elements from which the episodes have been transferred are quite clean, displaying few imperfections. A mild grain structure can be noticed here and there, but it never becomes excessive. Digital compression artifacts are never a concern.
All of the episodes that constitute THE CLOSER: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON come with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. The soundtracks are effective, but unremarkable due to their simplicity. Like the preceding seasons, the series sound design takes the talky crime drama approach; so much of what we hear is front and center. There are occasional channel separations, but the outlying channels don’t see too much activity beyond ambient sounds and musical fill. Overall the fidelity is good; the music sounds fine and sound effects are reasonably convincing. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand. Portuguese language tracks have been included on the DVD, as have English French, Chinese and Portuguese subtitles.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as some extras. Featurettes include A Day In The Life Of A Homicide Detective and Catching A Lie. Deleted Scenes are also spread throughout the set. A Gag Reel closes out the extras.
For my money, THE CLOSER remains one of the best shows on cable or broadcast television. THE CLOSER: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON looks and sounds better on DVD than it does on cable, plus there are no pesky commercials to get I the way of one’s enjoyment. Highly recommended.
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