"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Closer: Dial M for Provenza

This was probably the most anticipated episode of The Closer ever for me. The idea of Provenza stepping into the spotlight and working undercover seemed like a can't miss. Add to that the dramatic conclusion to the last episode "Live Wire" and it really seemed to have the makings of a great episode. Unfortunately, it didn't really work out that way. "Dial M For Provenza" certainly had it's moments, but overall, I'd call it hit and miss.

Let's get started right where I left off last time, Fritz and Brenda. Good grief, that was a fantastic scene, and there were so many ways to interpret it. As I watched it, I was fully on the side of Fritz. Brenda was completely in the wrong. And all of that played a big part in my excitement for this latest entry.

What I got, honestly, was really kind of a let down. Bitten by the fact that The Closer isn't a true-to-form serial. I get that, and I can roll with it usually. But to just see Fritz in the background, joking about Brenda's case, took it too far away from the serial line. A big development like the end of "Live Wire" really deserves some play at continuity. It would have actually been better if I just hadn't seen Fritz at all, then Brenda's frustrations with Provenza would have played in a whole new light. Disappointed, but looking forward to the return to that story.

On a brighter note, the increased Provenza did work really well here. It's one of the great things about The Closer. While Brenda is the show, what makes it great is the cast of characters that surround her. I now have enough background on all of them that I am invested. I get Brenda's attachment to Provenza, and I get Pope's budget concerns. My only complaint about Provenza's part in all of this is that I would have liked to see more of his undercover operation.

Although, that may have been asking for more trouble, because this was one of those cases that kind of strains the suspension of disbelief. The team just splits up to drive back? Provenza and Flynn are transporting the prisoner, and the evidence, in his personal Civic instead of Brenda's cruiser? It's the kind of convenience that makes you cringe a little bit. Fortunately, once the case moved beyond the murder for hire sting, it got a little better.

The scene with Hava..Hanaav...Hanava...Hank and Brenda was classic. Right down to Brenda with the sweet little, "We all tell little white lies from time to time..." And I loved Gabriel's reaction, "No." Until the bit about the combination, I was still unsure of just where it was headed. The brother as the culprit, and Provenza saving his own bacon by working the confession out of Angie, made for a solid wrap up to an episode that started on some shaky footing.

The biggest surprise of the episode for me was another bit that missed, and that was Jennifer Coolidge as Angie. It's surprising because I really like Jennifer Coolidge. I think she's very funny, and well cast for this part. But what was up with that accent? It came and went, and I'm just not sure why it was there in the first place. It was all just odd and distracting.

Finally, the last scene with Pope and Provenza really was great. It's something I've seen before. Two members of the team with tension between them finding a common ground and sharing a moment. It reminded me of Brenda and Taylor in "Cherry Bombs." So, overall, it was a good episode, but stopped short of being great by some bits that just didn't quite work. If this is the worst I get though, I'm way ahead of the game.

Other fun stuff:

Tao continues to be a scene stealer. Both with his Dr. Horrible goggles for the bomb removal, and the followup popping through the wall in exaltation. He also had the line of the night with, "Money is exchanged...and so ends another Provenza date."

The bit with Provenza taking the picture of Willie Rae to use in his interrogation was very funny. "He's always been fond of my mother." Of course, that was topped by the exchange with the perp. "Do you know who this is?" "Your daughter?"

The short exchanges with Brenda and Pope were very good. My favorite was the look on her face as she tried to hide the fact that Serabian had now been murdered for real. And Pope's reaction to the realization.

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