Five seasons in, THE CLOSER remains one of best shows on television, not to mention one of my personal favorites. THE CLOSER continues its winning formula of character-based drama that mixes keen deduction and plenty of humor into the genre of the police procedural. As always, the majority of the show’s success rests squarely on the shoulders of actress Kyra Sedgwick, whose portrayal Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson remains one of the absolute best and most vivid on cable television. The premise of THE CLOSER finds Chief Johnson in charge of the Los Angeles police department’s Major Crimes Division. 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, where her personal life is concerned.
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 has 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 and Raymond Cruz as Detective Sanchez. Finally, we have Jon Tenney as Brenda’s husband 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 five also features a several of appearances from Mary McDonnell as Captain Sharon Raydor. Also look for Sedgwick’s real-life daughter Sosie Bacon as Brenda’s niece Charlie.
THE CLOSER: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON ($40) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features the following fifteen episodes that were aired during year five: Products Of Discovery, Blood Money, Red Tape, Walking Back The Cat, Half Load, Tapped Out, Strike Three, Elysian Fields, Identity Theft, Smells Like Murder, Maternal Instincts, Waivers Of Extradition, The Life, Make Over and Dead Man's Hand. Stories that play out over season five include newlyweds Brenda and Fritz having to deal with the loss of a beloved family member; Brenda’s problematic niece comes for an extended visit; Provenza’s love life takes a well dressed upturn; Brenda has several antagonistic encounters with police Captain Sharon Raydor.
Warner Home Video has made all fifteen episodes from THE CLOSER: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. As always, the episodes look pretty darn good for standard definition, and are on par with what we have seen for the past four seasons. Image sharpness and detail are solid. Colors maintain a natural level of saturation, with appealing flesh tones. Blacks appear accurate, while the whites are crisp. Contrast is smooth and the lighting avoids too much flatness. The film elements from which the episodes have been transferred are quite clean, displaying few imperfections. A mild to moderate grain structure can be noticed here and there, but it never becomes excessive. Digital compression artifacts maintain a low profile.
All of the episodes that constitute THE CLOSER: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON come with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. Again, the simple sound design is effective, but unremarkable. 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, but the material remains largely dialogue based and thereby unremarkable. Music sounds fine, while the sound effects are reasonably convincing. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English and French subtitles are provided.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as some extras. Features include Scene At The Crime Location Map. Deleted Scenes are also spread throughout the set. A Gag Reel closes out the extras.
No doubt in my mind, five seasons in, THE CLOSER remains one of the best shows on cable or broadcast television. As always THE CLOSER: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON looks and sounds better on DVD than it does on standard definition cable, plus there are no pesky commercials to get I the way of one’s enjoyment. Highly recommended.
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