Personally, I regard New Year's resolutions with a touch of suspicion. Perhaps it comes from all the time I spent in the service industry, observing what waiters and mixologists refer to as the December 31st Phenomenon: emptying nightclubs juxtaposed against suddenly overflowing gyms; restaurants depopulated while formerly exuberant diners demonstrate an all consuming appetite for diet books and wheat grass juice. Oh, how very quickly all the dancing stops! Longtime bartenders know to save the tips they earn ringing in the New Year to accommodate the staggering loss of income between January 1st and Valentines Day, by which time business generally returns to normal. This is not cynicism, Dear Reader, but only an acknowledgement that — no matter how genuine the desire to improve ourselves might be — old habits die hard.
No one understands the fragile nature of rehabilitation better than Lt. Andy Flynn...
Five years ago, when Mike Robin and I were still doing The Closer, I was contacted by the Emmy Academy asking if someone from their intern program could join the writer's room. I said yes, because we can always use an extra pair of hands, and I thought it might be useful for a student to observe (and maybe participate in) the active life of a television series. Very shortly after that positive response, I was inundated with potential candidates. Instead of culling through all their resumes and "on-camera introductions" myself, I handed off the bulging box of applicants to Carson Moore and Ralph Gifford — at that time, the youngest and newest writers on the show - and asked them to find me the top five likely candidates; in their submitted mix was a young woman named Kendall Sherwood.
From the day she first appeared...
Jon Tenney, Kearran Giovanni and Mary McDonnell
First, an apology! I left you last week promoting the wrong episode. This Monday night is NOT the Santa flash mob; it is, I'm afraid, a much darker story, as one would expect when the narrative revolves around the theme of unfulfilled hopes.
"Trial By Fire," (it's first few moments excepted) begins in a courtroom and objectively explores the finite limits of our justice system. Those of you who follow this blog know how fascinated I am by our civilization's orderly attempt to deal with injury and conflict resolution....
Girl meets boy; girl loses boy; girl gets boy back again: it's a simple, easily extrapolated formula for great story telling. For example, boy has superpowers; boy loses superpowers; boy gets superpowers back again. Or, lightly summarizing one of the latest and more enjoyable iterations of this concept, Chef has restaurant; Chef loses restaurant; Chef gets restaurant back again. Actually, in its many various guises, the dramatization of the second chance is the underlying premise of more plays, films and novels than I could shake my pen at, and it's continuing popularity indicates that a desire for one more (better-informed) swing at the ball is fairly universal. Let he who is without regret throw the next cliché!
So this Monday's episode of Major Crimes, "Acting Out," begins with a recovering addict (boy has sobriety; boy loses sobriety; boy gets sobriety back again) confessing to murder during a meeting of his support group.
Or does he?
In short order, Lt. Provenza & Company find a former child star
It can be incredibly hard to find a place in this world where one feels happy, valued and safe. Worse, any search for refuge from the vicissitudes of everyday life requires some awareness that even the very best sanctuaries are only temporary. We're born into a perfect childhood, we marry the ideal mate, the best job with the greatest people: none of these states of grace can last forever. Our best hope, then, is to appreciate what we have while we have it, and work to keep what is good in our lives as long as it is possible or right. But change is the only constant in this world, and we forget that at our peril.
Perhaps nothing illustrates the danger in hoping temporary asylums will last (exactly the way they are, please, forever-and-a-day) so much as young love. A strong, romantic relationship between two teenagers can form a bond so passionate that attempts to break it end in tragedy. Romeo and Juliet speaks from the ages, reminding us that the adolescent heart — once given — can be biologically impossible to return...
Mary McDonnell, Graham Patrick Martin
Major Crimes creator James Duff will be doing a Facebook chat from 9/8c to 10/9c Monday during the airing of the episode? Join in the conversation here.
Last summer, the stories on Major Crimes revolved around the theme of expectation. Our human ability to imagine the future — to project what lies around the next bend in the road — is both a great asset and a terrible flaw. When we have properly predicted events, and reap the benefits of our planning and hard work, rejoicing follows. But when we arrive at the end of our labors without gaining what we anticipated, tragedy can ensue.
And that is where the third season of Major Crimes resumes this Monday, for when expectations fall short, most of us fall back on the primitive engine of hope. Even the very worst darkness cannot prevent our hands from reflexively reaching out for a light. Whatever passions or dreams act as a lamp when your eyes cannot see on their own: that is hope. Speaking for myself, when I slump, my family picks me up, providing the luminous love I need to carry on.
I believe in family like I believe in the sun...
The expectation of safety has — alas - exploded in our modern world. Worse, the very idea of safety has become so politicized that it's nearly impossible to discuss (from any perspective) without simultaneously inviting partisan criticism. Walking through this political minefield just to tell a story is nearly not worth it
Those who watch Major Crimes regularly know that we try to vary the tone from episode to episode. Some stories are dark and moody; some are light and, occasionally, funny; some are designed to be action-packed thrillers; some are built as studies of human nature. And, usually, we end our seasonal run with a touch of horror. Last year's spree killing "Poster Boy," and the previous season's cool-headed sniper, led us into the more depraved reaches our genre.
Here we go again...
Raymond Cruz and Mary McDonnell
bsp;Ask police detectives about homicide's "blue chips," and right up there with divorce, greed and psychopathy, they will mention "getting even" as one of their highest performers. In fact, if you factor in gang violence, mob hits and war zones, retaliation isn't only a celebrated motive for murder, but also the prime mover behind the deaths of millions of men, women and children around the globe.
Add to this cheery observation that civilization doesn't seem to be getting any easier to maintain, and that the expectation of privacy has pretty much ceased to exist, and you have the toxic recipe for tonight's victim, a purveyor of a particular form of on-line harassment known colloquially as "revenge porn." Imagine a website...
Raymond Cruz, Mary McDonnell
We wake in the morning, pour hot and cold running water for coffee and showers, fry eggs or fill our cereal bowls with milk from the fridge, find our cars in their garages, or our trains at their stations, or our buses at their designated stops. We drop off children at schools, and stop by ATMs and maneuver our way to work through a series of signals managing the flow of traffic and railway cars, and we do most of this while taking for granted our comfort, ease and, most especially, our safety. The tragedies of Newtown and Aurora and Santa Barbara may jolt us, or cause us to doubt, but nothing totally shakes our faith that civilization has — for the most part - triumphed.
But, like the justice system in which Major Crimes operates, our civilization has been designed to work in the aggregate, not for individuals, and our assumptions that we live in an ordered world can be rudely dismissed by criminals bent on chaos...
We are born with an expectation of family; there is no other way for a baby to survive. Humans are so frail and weak during infancy that, without adult protectors and providers, they would be dead within a day. But relatives are not only present to feed and defend, they are also shapers of character, first teachers in the subjects of life, last words on rights and wrongs: they are the personification of fate; they are a form of destiny that we must either embrace or escape (and sometimes both).
But what about those for whom family is not a given? Children left behind, as it were, or set aside, or forced by circumstances from their original cribs? For example, I was adopted...