Maybe it's the drawl and the J.C. Penney wardrobe. Or the steel magnolia combination of toughness, Southern-belle politeness and blond beauty.
Or is it that the character of Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson of the LAPD is so well-written and acted that you find yourself forgetting "The Closer" is a cop show at a time where there are so many cops on TV that, as Brenda might say, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting one?
Whatever it is we like about her, Kyra Sedgwick's character is unlike any other on TV. She is the moral and emotional center of this multi-dimensional drama, which begins its second season Monday at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.
Still finding her way through the politics of the LAPD -- and the streets of Los Angeles -- Brenda is more comfortable and confident than when we met her last June. An Atlanta girl transplanted to the West Coast, Brenda is head of the priority murder squad, working for a man with whom she has a past and with a team of investigators she's still learning to trust.
Her co-workers, grudgingly, have come to respect Brenda as one heck of an interrogator. Get her in the room with a suspect and she can elicit a confession faster than you can say "sweet tea and biscuits." But her interaction with the man who wants her job -- Commander Taylor (Robert Gossett) -- is as icy as ever. And the relationship with her boss and former lover -- Chief Will Pope (J.K. Simmons) -- is becoming more complicated.
It seems Pope's wife wants a divorce, and that news has Brenda's current love interest -- FBI Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney) -- on the offensive. He thinks it's time to move in together, but always cautious Brenda is worried about the details that would need to be worked out -- like getting an additional phone line because Fritz can't possibly answer hers when her mother calls from Atlanta.
All this is backdrop for the case at hand: The murders of an LAPD detective and the drug dealer he was investigating. There is more than the usual pressure to solve the case, and Brenda's by-the-book approach is causing some of the officers around her to chafe.
But watching her snag the bad guys is only half the fun when you have an ensemble cast like this one. The inside jokes from last season are back. Brenda is cleaning up her junk-food habit and has banned snacks with processed sugar from the murder room. The double entendres of Detective Flynn (Tony Denison) skate past the edge of appropriateness, and veteran Lt. Provenza (G.W. Bailey) gets his share of comic one-liners. Sgt. Gabriel (Corey Reynolds), Brenda's right-hand man, continues to save her from herself -- playing the good cop at just the right moments. And the "thank yous" that are Brenda's calling card -- well, she's still practicing that Southern charm.
"The Closer" was created by James Duff ("The D.A.," "The Agency") , who executive produces with Greer Shephard and Michael Robin ("Nip/Tuck"). When it debuted last summer, it was the most-watched non-sports cable telecast of the year. Sedgwick went on to earn Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations and ratings for the show were strong. Judging from the premiere episode, this season is likely to see similar accolades.
You can almost hear the "thank yous" now.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times