The cast of “The Closer” easily made the transition to its spin-off “Major Crimes” last season — with the exception of Kyra Sedgwick, who retired Brenda Johnson. Instead, Mary McDonnell’s character — Captain Sharon Raydor — took over as the new head of the Major Case Squad, and therein lies the conflict.
Where Brenda was all about getting a confession, Sharon is all about making deals with criminals in order to save the taxpayers the cost of a trial. So the focus, which continues in Season 2, is more on how the American justice system approaches the art of the deal as law enforcement officers and prosecutors work together to score a conviction.
That said, the team is still about getting the bad guys and “Major Crimes” will continue to feature some major cases, including the murder of a big-time film producer’s wife, an apparent murder-suicide and a LAPD ride-along that leads to a startling discovery.
XfinityTV exclusively spoke with McDonnell, GW Bailey, who plays Lieutenant Provenza, and Tony Denison, who plays Lieutenant Andy Flynn to get the inside scoop on the new season:
Sharon is getting a husband this season, played by Tom Berenger: Last season, we learned that Sharon does have children, none of who live with her, so she seems to be estranged from her family. This season we will meet her husband … yes, her husband, not her ex!
“It is a very interesting complicated relationship,” McDonnell says. “It is a lot of fun to act, and there is really something off-center about them that I love. They are not divorced. They haven’t lived together in decades, so it is really fascinating about the complexity. And [Tom] is a fantastic actor. Without saying anything else, you will be pleased.”
Nadine Velazquez plays the new Deputy DA: Deputy District Attorney Emma Rios (Velazquez) arrives to challenge Raydor’s intentions and shake up the department, especially getting on Raydor’s case about her overseeing custody of Rusty (Graham Patrick Martin), who may be a homeless teen, but is still a material witness in a case, so it could appear as if she was witness tampering.
“She is a pain-in-the-neck district attorney,” Denison says. “That is what they do. They come and tell us why we may not have done the investigation properly and what they think we need to do more of, and she comes and she is really ‘frictionist’ in a cute and clever way. ”
” I think she is interesting, too, because she brings her generation into the room,” McDonnell adds. “And there is sort of an entitlement about her generation. They are very smart. They are very aggressive and very entitled as young women, but they are very clueless about some things and that is fun.”
As hard as it is to believe, Provenza is grumpier than usual this season: In the beginning of Season 2, Provenza wins a $4,000 kitty, which has been gathered from the other cops who were in his class at the Police Academy, and Provenza wins it because he is the last officer from his class still on active duty. This doesn’t help improve his mood.
“Of course, grumpy people don’t find themselves grumpy at all,” Bailey says. “I don’t find him to be grumpy, but he is aggravated a lot, and he is not afraid to let that aggravation show, so it comes out as grumpy. You know, me personally, when I arrive in the morning … they started this years ago … for a 6 o’clock call, they have the ADs [assistant directors] on the walkie talkies say, ‘Is he grumpy or grumpier?’
“I am not a morning person, so what I do is play Provenza like it is morning all day long. This year it is interesting because he is really beginning to finally admit how old he is and because all the evidence is around him, he is the last one standing. They are all gone. [He is facing] those very basic, philosophical questions that have been going on since man could write and that is: What is this all about? What in the world are we doing here? Why do these bodies keep showing up? Why do people keep doing this to each other? He asks those questions almost every episode.”
One of the unique aspects of “Major Crimes” was the addition of Rusty to the cast. He continues his role this season, more like a family member than the material witness he is. When Deputy District Attorney Emma Rios discovers that her material witness is living with Sharon, she is not a happy camper. She insists on deposing Rusty, but he is reluctant to talk to her with Sharon present because he doesn’t want Sharon to hear all sordid details of his life on the streets.
“I think it is beautiful because, for her, it allows us to understand her in a different way,” McDonnell says of the humanity that Rusty adds to the story. “But in terms of how it affects us as cops, I think it allow us to start to interrelate in a way that we wouldn’t normally even though we work together every day. I think that [Rusty] has created a potential relationship here, where we may have had a little more trouble relating or understanding our feelings of it emotionally.”
And Bailey, whose character Provenza has a special, almost grandfatherly relationship with Rusty, says, “He has worked as a character because he is such a charming actor. He has worked as a great catalyst to bring us together. We may have differences about a lot of things but this kid’s well-being is glue to us.”
Also returning for Season 2 are Michael Paul Chan as Lieutenant Mike Tao, Raymond Cruz as Detective Julio Sanchez, Kearran Giovanni as Detective Amy Sykes, Phillip P. Keene as tech expert Buzz Watson, Robert Gossett as Assistant Chief Russell Taylor and Jonathan Del Arco as the medical examiner Dr. Morales.
“Major Crimes” kicks off its second season Monday, June 10 at 9/8c on TNT.