Major Crimes Vs. The Closer: What's the Same? What's Different? And Is There Still Candy?

Kyra Sedgwick Mary McDonnellWhat’s old is (somewhat) new again as the series finale of TNT’s The Closer on Monday night feeds right into the 10 o’clock premiere of the acclaimed procedural’s spin-off, Major Crimes.

Kyra Sedgwick, of course, turned in her metaphorical badge, dictating The Closer‘s end and paving the way for Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica) to step up and front the offshoot. But how else does Major Crimes compare to its predecessor? Let’s take a look at the evidence presented by the new drama’s first two episodes. (Major Crimes settles into its regular Mondays-at-9 time slot on Aug. 20.)

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WHAT’S THE SAME | Provenza, Flynn, Sanchez, Tao and Buzz still populate the Major Crimes unit, Taylor is the officious blow-hard they love to push back against, Morales continues to be a colorful M.E. and Kendall remains your friendly neighborhood coroner.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT | Well, for one, Brenda Leigh is no longer running Major Crimes, as per the events of The Closer‘s series finale. Instead, McDonnell’s Captain Sharon Raydor soon enough finds herself leading the division. Also, One Life to Live alum Kearran Giovanni (see photo, bottom left) takes a desk alongside the boys, as freshly transferred undercover officer Amy Sykes.
WHAT’S THE SAME | Just as Atlanta transplant Brenda herself was met with a chilly reception upon taking the reins of what was then the Priority Homicide Division, Raydor gets nothing remotely resembling a warm welcome (especially from the MCD vet who had been left in charge in The Closer‘s finale).
WHAT’S DIFFERENT | Brenda’s headstrong demeanor had the advantage of coming with a proverbial side of cornbread. Raydor, though, is pricklier by half — and as such has a tougher row to hoe.

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WHAT’S THE SAME | Tricky, twisty cases commanding a certain level of priority are investigated and cracked.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT | Whereas “The Closer” (aka Brenda) would sew things up by craftily coaxing a confession, Raydor’s directive is to amass enough evidence to leverage the suspect into signing off on a plea deal, thus saving the justice system time, a lotta money and the risk of appeal. (That the guilty skate on lighter charges, however, irks a few Major Crimes detectives.) With this new structure comes a slightly increased presence of rotating ADAs.

WHAT’S THE SAME | Rusty (played by Two and a Half Men‘s Graham Patrick Martin; photo, far left) — an orphaned teen introduced in a pivotal way in The Closer‘s series finale –remains in the mix.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT | Rusty is still holding something over LAPD’s collective head. But without Brenda on hand to follow through, it falls upon Raydor to make good on that deal — and in a surprising way.

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WHAT’S THE SAME | That which was Brenda’s top left desk drawer is still filled to the rim with candy, Ring Dings and such. Drool.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT | Raydor’s reaction to discovering the tasty trove is not one of sugar-lusting delight. Fritz’s sheepish expression as he retrieves it, however, is quite amusing.

WHAT’S THE SAME | Yep, G-man Fritz is still around, consulting/getting involved on select cases.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT | Jon Tenney — like Robert Gossett Jr. (who plays Taylor) and Jonathan Del Arco (Morales) — will only guest-star as needed. Corey Reynolds and JK Simmons (now a lead in ABC’s Family Tools sitcom), meanwhile, are not scheduled to reprise their roles as Gabriel and Pope in any capacity.