Certain showrunners bring certain traits to the interview table. Marc Guggenheim isn’t afraid to call out ‘shippers. Yankees fan Adam Horowitz tries to slip in baseball “spoilers.” Shane Brennan practically wrote headlines for you (“Do not miss the first 45 seconds!”).
As for Major Crimes creator James Duff? Over the years (The Closer‘s run included), I have learned that often when I question the TNT drama’s inclusion of a particular crime, he is at the ready with a wealth of real-life facts to support his storytelling decision. Such as when I asked why the Major Crimes team would be investing a seemingly humdrum hit-and-run during the back half of Season 5 (premiering tonight at 9/8c, in a brand-new Wednesday time slot).
“Los Angeles is the No. 1 hit-and-run city in the United States right now,” he shared. “Usually they are investigated by Traffic, not by experienced homicide detectives, but a majority of them are not getting solved, and we need to start bringing more people to justice.”
Duff can also be counted on to serve up a stat that makes you shiver. “Sometimes what happens in a hit-and-run is that the driver will accidentally hit the bicyclist, and then go back and run over the bicyclist harder,” he told me. “They kill them to avoid the lawsuit.” (When I then joke that I’m seriously reconsidering my next trip west, Duff assured, “Don’t be afraid to visit Los Angeles. We’re the safest big city in America.”)
As Season 5 resumes this Wednesday, Sharon Raydor (played by Mary McDonnell) may be thinking about sideswiping a certain someone, as Deputy Chief of Operations Winnie Davis (Emmy winner Camryn Manheim) lobbies, hard, for dearly departed Russell Taylor’s old job. (Fritz thus far has been keeping the seat warm, as the acting Assistant Chief of Special Operations, but his ex-FBI status would be a tough full-time sell to the LAPD.) “Sharon doesn’t really want the job, but she really doesn’t want Winnie Davis to have it,” Duff previews. “Winnie Davis poses a threat to the way the LAPD is presently organized, and she is especially displeased with Major Crimes.”
But… Sharon’s team gets the job done, no? Like clockwork, on a weekly basis? “They do, but there’s always this tension inside governmental agencies, between getting the job done and spending money,” Duff explains. “The justice system was not created to be a bargain, but there’s still a limited amount of dollars to spend.” Again, with a stat: “In California courts, 93 percent of homicide cases are settled out of court, because we just don’t have the money to try them all.”
Also in the running for Taylor’s job is Leo Mason (played by Leonard Roberts), the Commander of Criminal Intelligence AKA “the LAPD’s version of the CIA,” Duff says. “He doesn’t want the job either, but he’s also afraid of Winnie Davis.”
As for Winnie herself, she “is unafraid to pursue the job in a very naked and open fashion, and Camryn Manheim is the bomb” in the role, says Duff. “She is just perfect for this.”
Geez, all the office politics may be enough to give Sharon a heart attack! Whoops, #TooSoon? After all, Andy (Anthony Denison) had been KO’d by his ticker when last we tuned. in. So how is he, months later? “He’s gotten a final wake up call, and this one he is going to have to listen to,” says Duff. “He’s got to change his life, and that puts pressure on him to grab for happiness right now.” Because even with things going quite well between him and Sharon, “His life is incomplete, and he wants to make it more complete,” the EP teases.
Elsewhere over the show’s winter/spring run (it has already been renewed for Season 6), the Major Crimes team will investigate a dead body “found 40 feet up a tree in Griffith Park”; Pretty Little Liars‘ Keegan Allen, as Gus’ boss, will pose a threat to Rusty’s relationship; Sykes (Kearran Giovanni) faces Jason Gedrick’s Hickman again in the courtroom, “as he predicted she would”; the murder of a one-man geek squad “leads to one of our very darkest dark cases ever”; and, on the decidedly lighter side, Dr. Morales (Jonathan Del Arco) will put on quite a show when his dad visits from South America.
“He’s a retired cop, his father, and Dr. Morales has perhaps misrepresented how closely he works with Major Crimes,” Duff says with a chuckle. “So everybody sort of tries to help Dr. Morales keep up the fiction!”