The Closer

The Yuletide episodes of The Closer are true standouts every season, and this one's got it all: holiday hilarity, family dysfunction and, of course, murder. The two-parter opens tonight at 9/8c on TNT with a death on Christmas Eve in a case that threatens to dash everybody's holiday plans. "Brenda [Kyra Sedgwick] and Raydor [Mary McDonnell] always fight to gain control of cases, but they're fighting to give this one away," says exec producer James Duff.

Things get even screwier after Brenda's parents (Frances Sternhagen and Barry Corbin) show up. "They start decorating Brenda's home with their own Christmas stuff, including some of Brenda's old homemade ornaments from childhood," says Duff. Then they drop a bomb: "They're moving to Los Angeles!"

It's the perfect capper to an intense run of episodes that included the stabbing of Lt. Flynn (Tony Denison) and Brenda's battle with husband Fritz (Jon Tenney) over his past addictions. But things are about to turn dark again.

What begins as a "typical" murder investigation ends as a war-crimes case in a story line that carries into next week's episode. Says Duff, "Brenda and her team realize they've gotten in the middle of a blood feud within a refugee family from Kosovo, and it's a much bigger story than anyone suspected." So much for a happy new year.

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