Mary McDonnell Previews Major Crimes Finale, Shares Why Season 2 News Brought Such Relief

TNT’s Major Crimes ends Season 1 with a bang this Monday at 9/8c, when a sniper vexes the combined resources of Major Crimes and the FBI. Yet in doing so, the intense case brings Captain Sharon Raydor’s team closer than they’ve been since a certain Southern belle’s exit. TVLine invited Mary McDonnell to reflect on the spin-off’s success and share why the Season 2 pick-up means so much to her because of the many other lives it rewards.

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TVLINE | When last we spoke, you discussed how Raydor had evolved over the course of her time on The Closer. Now, what about during these first 10 episodes of Major Crimes?
She has been revealed to me as somebody who has a somewhat balanced life, in that she has as much of a journey on a personal level as she does on a professional level. She seems to be a person that doesn’t shy away from a challenge, no matter what it is — and she has a really interesting ability to face dead-on whatever it is in front of her. I’m also understanding her really great impulsive instincts as a mother archetype. And I loved seeing the way in which she and some of the other squad members found common ground or despite themselves enjoyed each other.

TVLINE | Yeah, Provenza in particular was pretty rough on her at the start.
Yes, he was. And organically, that was absolutely right, so I don’t think it threw her. And I think that’s partially why they were able to get through it. I don’t think that’s every going to be the easiest relationship, but I think it could be one of the more rewarding ones.

TVLINE | Let’s talk about Rusty. TV shows often have a hard time injecting a kid into the situation, especially a teen and within a procedural format. Why did you think it was important to have that character be a part of Major Crimes?
I think that [series creator] James [Duff] knew instinctively, when he was working with me and working with Raydor and working with this new series, that there really was something about opening Raydor up to the mother archetype could be very powerful at the center of a crime drama.

TVLINE | Right, and it’s a dynamic that the Brenda character never really had.
Correct, that’s different from her life. It’s very, very different, and I think that’s important because you want to create a spin-off but you really want to create a new show, too. In most cases you have the glory of all of these characters continuing to move forward but that then presents you with a different set of challenges. Like, how do you create a new show with the same people? James understood that there were aspects to Sharon Raydor that were extremely different than Brenda Leigh and that had to do with her personal layers and her soul layers, and there were possibilities for those to be expressed. I also think that the character of Rusty is necessary culturally right now. We need to take a look at our social systems of young men being raised without parents, because there are a lot of them out there. The police deal with this constantly, foster children, young people who are on the street, people who are living a certain kind of life, so it’s a beautiful, almost spiritual principle to take a look at what machinery we have in place to cope with these young men. And clearly, it gives me and Sharon Raydor an opportunity to explore a lot of things and reveal to the audience a lot more about her. I think her relationship with Rusty helps the audience trust her.

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TVLINE | What kind of a Season 1 finale are you giving us on Monday night?
Well, not to spoil, but I think it’s absolutely fabulous. It’s so interesting and complex, and in some way it allows us to complete an arc so that when we begin Season 2, there is the opportunity to get into some very deep, deep crimes. I don’t think any of what we experienced in the first season inter-dynamically is going to suddenly transform itself overnight, but there is a strength in our differences that I felt by the end of the finale.

TVLINE | And as far as the case itself, there a sniper on the loose?
Yes. It’s a big deal. It’s a really big deal, so they all are compelled and propelled to work their very best.

TVLINE | Lastly, what did it mean to you when the show got its Season 2 pick up? Because I imagine that for an actress, this was probably one of the most precarious situations to walk into.
I absolutely agree, it was. There was the pressure and the risk factor of taking on this spin-off, stepping in as Sharon Raydor, everything that it implied to just sort of follow the legendary Closer. You had to approach it with a lot of humility and commitment and not get caught up in “success or failure,” any of the externals. But I knew that. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I know how the horse race is successfully won — you put your head down and you do your best. But then when you get your head up, you go, “Did it work? Have we succeeded?” Because if it didn’t succeed, a great deal of that will land in my lap just because I’m so visible. But I knew it was succeeding on the floor when we were shooting it, so I said to myself, “Calm down. This is working. This is going to work. I know this is going to work.” And it worked so successfully, actually, that it was thrilling. When we got picked up, all I could think about was I’d been granted relief,  tremendous relief. But what I really felt relief for was the 250 to 300 people who would continue to be employed. This is a huge production company, and they’ve been working now together for eight years. That’s a lot of families, a lot of mortgages, a lot of lives and their hopes and dreams, and commitments continuing. In this time of recession and unemployment, [earning a renewal] felt fabulous.

What is your current opinion of Major Crimes, as its Season 1 finale nears?

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  1. WayneInNYC says:

    Congrats to the Creators, Cast and Crew on your Season 2 Pick-up.
    I look forward to spending more time with y’all.

    • Merilee01 says:

      I agree. This show has exceeded my expections & is now probably my favorite show on TV.
      Contraulations to all involved. I’m really looking forward to tonight & next season.

    • Ron Gehr says:

      Any thoughts on the closing scene of tonight’s season finaleof Major Crimes, as Rusty was summonsed to the chiefs office. Sharon was holding the “letters” ADA Rios brought to her attention?

  2. Tina says:

    Absolutely thrilled for Mary McDonnell and the cast.
    This is a top notch show and deserves many years of success.
    Very much looking forward to the finale, but wish Season 2 would start this winter or early spring! Summer is so far away!

  3. Era says:

    This show is amazing. I tell all my friends and family to watch. The storytelling and acting that go into the story as a while is like a fine artwork. The additions to the cast only enhance it all. It works so well that it outshines it’s predecessor. Hopefully this stays on for many more years.

  4. Kristyn says:

    I absolutely love this show. Mary McDonnell brings an amazing character to the show that opens into a motherly and commanding character. Sharon and Rusty’s relationship gives such a huge catharsis which makes their lives relatable to your own. Every actor represents their character well and makes this show a big success. I have not missed a single episode. And for not watching any of the episodes of the closer, I don’t feel like I have missed a thing. Even though the first season is a little short, I can’t wait for the second to some around. Way to go Major Crimes.

    • Michael says:

      I agree. The Sharon/Rusty relationship has added a dimension to Major Crimes that I’ve grown to love. Sharon is quirky to a fault and her manifestation of emotion has always been equally quirky…even to a point that some might call her “cold” or “unfeeling”. At least that’s what we got in The Closer. This personal mother/child relationship opens Sharon up more and softens her quirks. I hope that the young man is a series regular.

  5. Pam says:

    I love this show and think it would be great if Brenda Leigh would do a guest spot next season….Maybe being pregnant!

  6. Jk says:

    I didn’t really care much for her character during The Closer. The writers just gave nothing for me to connect to. While I’m not a fan of kids on tv Shows, I will admit the addition of Rusty has allowed the writers to add character to her character, making one have some connection finally to the character without falling into the usual kid traps that writers do. They have developed a character that cares, without being sappy doing do.

    • Irishgirl says:

      I agree. I’m not a huge fan of Raydor… took a long time for me to be ok with her being on The Closer. And I thought the addition of Rusty to Major Crimes was pointless, but it’s turned out way better than I thought it would. His story and his interactions with her have been the most interesting part of the new series.

  7. downsidebob says:

    Really a good show
    now the dust has settled and the squad has started to respect sharon more(especially provenza) season 2should be great

  8. tvdiva says:

    Congrats to the showrunners for making this not a spin-off, but a successful show in its own right with its own personality. I loved the first season and I am looking forward to the second season.

  9. Bobbi says:

    Love this show. Love the fact that they were able to differentiate it from The Closer and yet retain the relationships that made that show special. The addition of Rusty humanized Sharon in a way nothing else could have. Kudos also to the actor playing that role. He has been terrific in a difficult part.

    Very happy they’ve gotten a second season and eagerly looking forward to it!

  10. raftrap says:

    I hope they get Kyra to appear next season, a cameo at least, it would mean a lot for old fans of “The Closer”, there’s nothing more weird on spinoffs than not having the mothership’s lead character appear on the spinoff at least once. “Buffy” and “Angel” magnificently pulled off these types of appearances, they made it seem effortless.

    • Jk says:

      Only If we get the ending we deserved between pope and Brenda, instead of no interacting or even acknowledgement that each other existed at the end of TC. Brilliant show but I still feel robbed. Even a slap would have been something.

  11. Janet says:

    I love the show and although they are coming together I think more work is needed by Raynor to show the team they can trust and depend on her. Also the chief needs to remember what side he was on and who stood by it and it wasn’t Pope, you don’t need to make him the bad guy. Love love love Andy and Provenza!!!! Let’s not forget to keep the light hearted comedy going. I will keep watching and hoping for the team to be a family again, remember they didn’t like Brenda at first by she proved herself to them, lets see Raynor do the same.

  12. Amy says:

    Love it! I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel with Brenda gone but this season and all the changes have been very good. They have blended into a different group and yet still stayed the same in their own way.

  13. Evelyn David says:

    Love this show! But waiting until summer 2013 for more episodes is going to be so hard. TNT think Spring 2013 instead of Summer! Please!

  14. Mike Henigan says:

    This was a nice article about one of our favorite shows. We really love the ongoing relationship between h and Rusty, great to see both actors bloom together :)

  15. Ari says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for this interview! Mary does such a FABULOUS job on Major Crimes she needs more coverage – and an Emmy.

  16. Chicago Dan says:

    I was skeptical of MC, but I really enjoy it. I thought adding Rusty was brillant. When Raydor joined TC, she was pretty much a thorn and not that fleshed out. However, adding this element to Raydor’s life made you care for the character (pretty important for lead) – especially in a spin-off. It was an unexpected turn. I must say MMD is a fine actress and her interactions with the other actors has been great. Looking forward to more seasons.

  17. MoshePipik says:

    Thank you for this lovely interview, and for finally giving Major Crimes some of the attention it so richly deserves. This show overcame the shadow of its predecessor, the misgivings of a lot of fans, and a lot of doubt on the part of the network to emerge as a truly unique, remarkable and admirable show in its own right. Here’s to the season finale, the season two renewal, and many more wonderful years to come.

  18. Cathy says:

    For me, the biggest surprise has been the character of Rusty; I didn’t realize that he was the same person who played Eldridge on 2 1/2 Men! So young, and really talented, he makes it look effortless. I have a 17-year-old son, and Eldridge is a bit more street smart, but harder to understand emotionally, but he really reminds me of my son.

  19. Rinka says:

    Didn’t know if I was going to like MC because I was such a Closer fan, but am loving this. It’s great to watch the rest of the cast actually have dialogue and do more then just run errands for Brenda. I’m realizing how much talking she actually did and how little the rest of the team got to contribute.

  20. Salley says:

    LOVE Major Crimes. Wasn’t sure about Rador in the beginning but now I really like her. I’m starting to understand her now that Brenda Leigh is gone. I also love Rusty’s character! I hope he stays on the show……..please?! Can’t wait until Season 2. Wish it could start sooner……..another please?!

    • Joan A. Wilson says:

      Love the new show. I forgot to record what turned out to be the final episode or season 0ne. I am so glad the show was renewed and am looking forward to all new episodes.

  21. Diane Jourdan says:

    At first I wasn’t sure about this show. I was such a BIG closer fan. But, I’ve come to love it just as much. I’m glad I stuck around, it’s a great show and I think Rusty adds that ‘human part’ to Raydor. Outstanding first season. Looking forward to many, many more!

  22. Cindy says:

    Never saw The Closer so this is a totally new show to me. Kind of wished l had to see the others in the unit as they used to be. Anyway l do enjoy it and am glad it has been renewed.

  23. Yoho says:


  24. Jen says:

    The show started out as a competent spin-off of the Closer but it quickly came into its own and grew into a very good stand alone show. Starting around the episode with the two kids who were kidnapped, it really came together and the cast seemed to gel for the first time. All episodes since then have been OUTSTANDING!

  25. Jeff says:

    I have never, EVER been a fan of adding a kid to a TV show as the characters usually end up being more annoying than anything. I was very worried about the addition of Rusty but he won me over. The Rusty-Sharon parts of the show have become some of my favorites.

  26. April says:

    I had complete faith in James Duff. Afterall, he brought us the great Brenda Leigh Johnson! I knew with his mind and Mary McDonnell’s acting skills they would have another winner on their hands!

  27. CloserFan says:

    She’s difficult to watch, grating on my nerves, they need to get a new lead for next season. She’s incredibly bland and boring. Happy for the other cast and crew success!

  28. jennae says:

    This many positive comments in a row? The show is absolutely doing things right. I can’t think of a better testament to a show in our trollish times. I’m excited to see what happens in Season 2.

  29. LoveMajorCrimes says:

    I really enjoy this show. I miss Brenda Lee, but not as much as I thought I would, which is a credit to the cast.

  30. Wonderful story, dialogue and acting. I disliked Raydor for most of The Closer but I’m loving her here. Raydor is committed and wise. Her interactions with Rusty are almost too perfect, but still feel authentic. I’m getting to know the rest of the squad in a fuller way, too, instead of them being just gophers for Brenda. I wasn’t even sure I’d watch this season, and now I’m upset to learn I have to wait til next summer for more!

  31. Cynthia says:

    It was a surprise to me that I like the show. I was thinking it would end with MC being the lead in the show, but I really like the direction they have taken and enjoy Rusty. I did, however, think that his father was brought there by the guy he will be testifying against and that still may be the case, but the show is still good without Brenda’s character, although I miss her. Hopefully we will still get to see some of that Provenza/Flynn humor.

  32. Tammy 333 says:

    I knew Mary McDonnell was a great actress after watching her on Battlestar Galactica (one of my favorites). The Closer characters are one of the BEST ensembles on tv, with Kearran Giovanni and Graham P. Martin just being icing on the cake as the two newbies on the show. I would like to see a short 5 episode run during the winter, because I agree with the other posts, summer 2013 is too long to wait for such an awesome show as Major Crimes!!

  33. Elaine says:

    Really enjoy this show and regret the season is so short. I like all the characters so much and I’m grateful they were able to do the spinoff and keep the team together. I love when there’s humor in the episode (the snarky little comments the guys make at each other is too funny). I’ve occasionally laughed out loud and I can’t say that too often about many other crime dramas. Love Raydor. Always been a big McDonnell fan. Looking forward to season 2.

  34. Lisa Egan says:

    MM is always so gracious when she speaks. The whole cast is respectful of each other. I think all the Closer fans watched originally to see our favorite characters but by the end we cared about the new dynamic. Great first season even though it wasn’t nearly long enough

  35. charlie griffin says:

    i read about half the comment, and i dont see it, the show is blaa, I hope it makes it but come on, Raydor needs to loose the voice, like if you dont listen I will get you, acouple of shows back, there was a scene were Raydor said let him go, to some criminal, that line and the way she said it stuck out so bad every time she talks I remember is, let him go, weird I know I am, but I really liked the closer, the reruns are good, I never really noticed the chest on Brenda Lee, the legs yes but nice rack too.

  36. Natalie says:

    This is by far my favorite show on TV. I’ve loved these characters for years now and was really really glad they decided to do a spin off. I love the addition of Rusty, it really does bring another layer to Capt. Raydor that the audience probably wouldn’t have gotten to see…I really loved the Closer but honestly I really do think Major Crimes is just as good, which is rare for a spin off. The cast and crew are all just brilliant…if they weren’t the show(s) never would have made it this long!

  37. Sue says:

    I was so pleasantly surprised at how very much I loved this show! So glad the characters will be around again next year!

  38. the finale did not play in our area due to other shows conflicting, so I feel really cheated–will the finale be repeated sometime soon–or is it streaming somewhere on the Internet???nancy Lansing michigan

  39. Carmel says:

    I love the series I even press my select button on my sky remote control I love the whole cast and I hope captain rayder gets full custody of ru

  40. Jane Wiles says:

    Bring back The closer! – I miss Brenda her character was fab. Raydor is lacklustre and stiff. Won’t be watching.
    So disappointing now another run of the mill police show… Nothing new!!!!