Major Crimes' Jon Tenney Previews Stroh's Return, Talks S.O.B. Spinoff

Major Crimes Tenney

Tonight at 9/8c, TNT’s Major Crimes delivers a two-hour season finale in grand fashion, by bringing back — in the flesh — Phillip Stroh, the legal lizard/serial rapist/murderer who oft taunted Fritz Howard’s wife Brenda on The Closer.

In fact, in that series’ finale, Stroh attacked Brenda in her and Fritz’s home. As such, his resurfacing — as part of the latest twist in the case that introduced Rusty to the Closer/Major Crimes universe — strikes a special chord with Fritz. Jon Tenney shared with TVLine a preview of the villain’s revival.

TVLINE | First of all, congratulations on the latest directing turn at Major Crimes. They gave you a pretty juicy episode [two weeks ago, in which Flynn saves a jumper with a sketchy past].
Yeah, that was a really fun script by Damani Johnson. He’s one of the new writers on the show, and boy, he really delivered.

TVLINE | As a director, what was the biggest challenge of that episode?
It was a challenge because the episode began with a jumper, so we went out to do location scouting and found this amazing bridge over the freeway. I’m looking at it, going, “Well, yeah. This is terrifying being up here, but how are they going to possibly put an actor on the other side of the railing here on the 110 freeway?” They’re like, “Oh, we’ll harness him in….” And then of course two days later they came and said, “We can’t do that.” So we decided we were going to green screen but actually green screen on location, so we had to build a section of the bridge on the bridge, set back, and then get a crane up there…. It was a real puzzle.

TVLINE | Now we have slithery Phillip Stroh coming back for the two-part finale. I have to imagine that’s particularly exciting for you since he was such a key part of The Closer‘s final Brenda storyline.
Oh, yeah — and I think it’s going to be satisfying for the fans because they know him from before. I sort of got a chance to bring back all that history, which in a way fueled the story with some extra energy.

TVLINE | DMajor Crimes Fritz Strohoes Fritz get to give his two cents to Stroh in person?
He’s got some direct relations with him, yeah, which is good. And it’s an interesting story because Stroh’s been in prison, and now he is trying to negotiate a better sentencing by giving information on an upcoming murder. He presents as saying, “Hey, you know what? I’ve collected information over my time in prison on an upcoming serial murder that I can give to you.” So it just deals with this issue of: How do you actually negotiate with this bad guy? And then of course the murders start happening so the clock starts ticking….

TVLINE | Speaking of S.O.B.s, what’s the S.O.B.’s role in these two episodes?
When those murders that he’s negotiating with actually start to happen and there’s a serial element to it, they bring in the Special Operations Bureau. The catch phrase they’ve been using about Special Operations Bureau — which in real life they actually say — is, “When Los Angeles has a bad day, they call the LAPD. But when the LAPD has a bad day, they call S.O.B.” They have a SWAT Unit, a dive team, an air unit…. All kinds of toys. They’re trained to deal with things in an immediate way, and so for something like this, where the clock is ticking on murders that are going to potentially happen at set times, Major Crimes just needs an extra hand.

TVLINE | When I spoke to [series creator] James Duff a couple of weeks ago, he said that with the transition in management at Turner, Major Crimes Fritz Spin-Offthe potential S.O.B. spinoff status was a bit up in the air. Is that your feeling as well?
I mean, we’re still very much in the process of talking about all of that. They [at Turner] have been dealing with their own internal restructuring, so certain things have just been put on hold — not necessarily by any correlation to the projects but just because they’re sort of getting their ship in order, and then they’re going to start making those decisions. I think we’ll have decisions about that though soon.

TVLINE | I know you’ve been playing Fritz for a while, but it’d be probably exciting to play this more active version of him.
James is really, really good at keeping things alive and fresh and ever-evolving, and when we talked about it the first thing I asked him was, “Are there stories you want to tell? It’s not just about keeping, like, a franchise going?” And he has many, many of them, so that is exciting as an actor. Plus, it’s always exciting to work with writers who have known you for a long time. That doesn’t often happen in this business.

TVLINE | Major Crimes itself has never really been in limbo as far as getting renewals. Are you at all surprised that the spinoff has chugged along the way it has? Because I admittedly was skeptical. When they announced it, I was like, “Hmm, are we going to the well too often?”
No, I totally understand that skepticism. I think every new iteration, every show, sort of has to find itself, and I think this show really did. It’s been very encouraging that the fans have loved these characters and wanted to spend time with them, and at the end of the day, these character-driven pieces are what people tune into. It’s not just that particular plot. I think that was a decision made early on in the process, to make it a character-driven procedural as opposed to a plot-driven. Just looking at the character I play, he’s shifted away from the FBI and is taking over the Special Operations Bureau, and they brought up some health issues…. It’s very interesting what James is doing.

TVLINE | If S.O.B. comes to pass, is this where Jon Tenney can maybe call in an impassioned favor from Kyra Sedgwick and get in a necessary cameo?
Well, we had dinner the other night as a matter of fact…. You never know. We’re still very close, so that’s good!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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33 Comments
  1. Dean says:

    Really hoping SOB makes it to series looking forward to the finale episodes.

  2. Roni says:

    Matt, thank you so so much!!!!!! Great questions!!!!!!!

  3. This is great, I love the tell about Jon as a director, that episode was really good.Can’t wait for tonight!! And I will watch SOB for sure! James Duff create amazing shows!

  4. Yoki says:

    Hopefully tonight will mark the end of the Stroh saga. I would love to see Gabriel make a guest appearance!

  5. FormerFan says:

    Major Crimes is beyond boring and uninteresting. Fritz is just a shadow of his former-amazing self. No longer watching.

    • Evan Cooper says:

      Well, thank you so much for taking the time and great effort to inform the world you are no longer watching a very good show. I honestly don’t know, how I would have made it through the entire whole half a minute it took to read that great proclamation. SMDH

  6. karrie_pgh says:

    It’s pretty neat how, in The Closer, the team had to get used to Brenda, then had to get used to Raydor, and how their loyalty and trust gets built with two different personalities. If the Stroh storyline isn’t resolved tonight, I hope they aren’t basing it on a real criminal who is that ‘slithery’! I can’t wait for tonight!

    • Julia says:

      That was actually one of the things that has kind of annoyed me about Major Crimes. It took a full season before the last of the team (Flynn) finally caved and started showing Brenda any measure of respect, let alone liking her. Yet Raydor, whom they were viewing as The Wicked Witch of the East (remember the drawing of the house on top of her?) just about a year before – the woman who spent months investigating their professional conduct – is an instant and easy fit as their new boss????? I mean I know it’s all just make-believe, but that calls for a larger suspension of disbelief than the Golden Gate Bridge.

      • NobodyYouKnow says:

        I disagree. Forenza STILL doesn’t quite trust her. And he was really crappy to her for the first season, and most of the second if i recall. Even last week he rolled his eyes when IA came in and said “There’s no rule she doesn’t follow” or something like that.

  7. Jax&Juice's Girl says:

    I hope this is the end for this Stroth character and tying up lose ends btw Brenda and Rusty. I hate that F-in dude! Also I think the SOB spin off should get a chance I would like to see that I will be watching the finale tonight!

  8. Ed says:

    I hope SOB makes it as a spinoff. I loved the episode with Chad and Jamie. They are great.

  9. Ruth says:

    This is the one case that drove Brenda crazy, it just wouldn’t be right if she is not in with taking this freak down. Just saying!!

  10. Glenn milsap says:

    Never again will I watch this program, you run the program with that kid for years and now you keep this crapy program another year. Enough is enough. You have good actors and have a bad writer and you have made it like a bad soap Opera.

  11. SPVANDERWAHL says:

    I’m sick of Phillip Stroh I’m ready for the end, he’s not as good as Red John (The Mentalist former nemesis) so he’s had enough air time.

  12. caroline parrish says:

    Well, I love the show and I was not sure it would survive the loss of Brenda. I love Jon and was hoping he would get a bigger part , he’s too good to be on the sidelines. I could live without Taylor!Please keep Rusty and find a way to weave him into active duty. Keep up the good work, we do love the action but it is great because of the relationships.

  13. Kayla says:

    I love major crimes and am glad it’s renewed, hope that continues to happen for a couple more seasons too!! I also think the spin off show off S.O.B would be awesome!! Hopefully they actually go through with doing that.

  14. PAM says:

    SOB sounds like a promising spinoff. THEMAJOR CRIMES SEASON FINALE WAS SO REDICULOUS WITH ANOTHER ESCAPE AND MURDER BY PHILIP STROH. IT MADE ME A BIT NAUSEATED. WRITERS SHOULD DO A BETTER JOB AT CREATING A STORY LINE THAT DOES NOT INSULT THE INTELLIGENCE OF US LOYAL VIEWERS. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. PUT THIS GUY IN JAIL FOR GOOD, KILL HIM, BUT DON’T KEEP BRINGING HIM AND HIS EVILNESS BACK…..PLEASE!!! NO MORE OF THIS STORY AND GIVE RUSTY A HAPPIER EXISTENCE AND QUIT TORMENTING THAT POOR KID WITH PHILIP AND HIS MOTHER.. MAYBE HE CAN TESTIFY AND THEN GO AWAY TO COLLEGE OR GO LIVE IN SF WITH HIS STEPBROTHER AND BECOME A SUCCESSFUL ATTORNEY OR YOUTH COUNSELOR.

    • Pam says:

      Didn’t intend to give the idea that I do not like this show. Quitre the contrary, I do love Sharon Rador and Rusty and all the leftover Closer team members….even crazy Julio who should have been suspended and perhaps fired for using excessive force due to his anger management problems. During a time where we are witnessing protests against police actions, is this just a ploy to write Julio out of the cast in the next season? If so, a positive and timely point will be made. If not, then to allow this type of officer to stay on the force without reprimand is not a good thing for our society.

  15. Helen says:

    I have watched both The Closer and Major Crimes. I have enjoyed the interaction among all the characters. I was very sad to see what they did to Julio by letting his anger get out of control after the anger management classes. He will have to be let go because of what happened or it would be a sad state of affairs for the police officers who don’t do that. I sadly must admit James has jumped the shark. Not only did they let the slithery Stroh get away, but treating Rusty that way again is very sad. I hope that Jon gets the new show because this one is over.

    • NobodyYouKnow says:

      It’s a two-parter. There’s still time for Stroh to get what’s coming to him. I’m ok with Julio being Julio… he shows passion but he’s not a prejudiced dick. When he goes over the line, it’s because he cares about innocent people. Our troubles with police officers stem from the ones who (at least in perception) are indifferent to circumstance and are interested in their own importance over that of a human life. (I’m talking about needing to choke a guy out who was to that point a nonviolent criminal)

      • Helen says:

        I’m sorry to disagree. He was violent or they would not have used a chokehold. I still don’t understand he was alive and transported after the chokehold so it didn’t appear that this was an issue. Now all they can talk about is how he died from the chokehold. He died from his weight, heart and other issues. If he had died from the chokehold, he would have been pronounced dead at the scene.

    • Bill in VA says:

      Yep — we have been viewers since day one — and with so many stupid remarks, unnecessary characters, and implausible story lines the show has definitely “Jumped the Shark”. Time to press delete on the DVR. It’s been fun.

  16. Charlen says:

    I am so frustrated that Stroh wasn’t killed in the end. The story was intense and very well done but at the end was a let down. I enjoy this show and the characters but feel this story line has gone on too long!!!

  17. John says:

    I very much enjoy this show and will watch the spinoff. The crew works so well together. I do wonder at times why writers, for example, keep certain background storiesbrunning on and on and on. The writing and stories associated with this series and other crime drams, have been great. The side bars, ie, of Rusty and his mother and now Rusty and the killer drag on too long. As a viewer of crime shows i would rather have things end in a shorter period of time, especially when the writing doesnt really need subplots that drag on. Thank you for your time

  18. Ro says:

    I want Brenda…I love her Southern Accent. I’m from Georgia plus Brenda is very crafty and smart…I love her approach to tying up the ends on a case and her interaction with Jon. He’s charming. We met him last year at the union Convention dinner. Very classy. BRING BRENDA HOME TO TNT and her SGT. who adores her also, she treats Sanchez with respect and he her. Keep this show and I hate the breaks although I know everyone needs a break.

  19. hunter says:

    i’ve loved this show. i was ‘afraid’ to watch it when ‘the closer’ ended thinking i would hate it because i didn’t like raydor at all, but after the first episode i was hooked. i loved this two hour finale. i am an astrologer, and the writing treated that story line so intelligently, it was REALLY extra fun to watch as an astrologer.

  20. Darlene says:

    In the past few weeks I’ve been a bit disappointed with the story lines of Major Crimes but tonights episode written by Damani Johnson was fantastic. Keep up the good work Damani.

  21. sandra luttick says:

    Would love to see Brenda Lee back miss her and Fritz

  22. Afreen says:

    I used to love “The Closer” major crimes is nothing compared to that show. I watched a few episodes but ended up sleeping. Kyra Sedgwick rocks.

  23. William Moseid says:

    Keep up the Good Work. The story line and the acting chops of the Ensemble are “Beyond The Pale” . . .

  24. Pat rhoer says:

    A cameo of Brenda once in a while would be nice. Julio looks like he has been drinking a lot the black circles under his eyes are there all the time.

  25. Izzy Gisborn says:

    i love anything James Duff puts out there and Jon Tenney ,The closer was my all time favorite though .