<i>The Closer</i> The Closer

Those audience members familiar with The Closer's dedication to authenticity will not be surprised to find that several things have changed from Season 5 to Season 6. The LAPD moved into new headquarters, and so have we; their Chief-of-Police retired and so will ours; the race to fill this all-important post consumed the city's police department for a time, as it will also completely consume Assistant Chief Will Pope, who hopes to claim this position as his own. Pope's ambitions will forever alter his relationship with his subordinate, friend and ex, Brenda Leigh Johnson. And so, because the center of gravity completely changes for all our characters this year, we adopted the theme of attraction.

This topic suggests the physical world and, indeed, our first episode revolves around the two most powerful attractive forces in the universe: love and gravity. It is gravity that holds us to this earth; it is gravity that holds the earth inside the solar system; it is gravity that keeps our solar system inside our galaxy; it is gravity that drags our first victim off the roof of his house and into the electrical wires surrounding his residence. Though, to be fair, love had something to do with it, too. Not to mention a gunshot wound to the head.

The crime, as always, forms the mass around which Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson and her division must orbit. A telescope, a mistress, a hillside home, a dangerous retired army officer, a half-finished terrace and the Constellation of Sagittarius must all properly align in order to understand why an amateur astronomer ended up the victim of a sniper weapon developed for Afghanistan.

But the idea of physical attraction is far too narrow, as a thesis, to encompass an entire season of episodes. So we will also explore the attractive forces of opportunity, family, scape-goating and many of the other powerful and alarming desires that motivate the human heart, driving some of us to fulfill our dreams, and others of us to commit murder.

The directionally-challenged Brenda finds it difficult to make her way through all the puzzling mazes in this new world. Yes, she gets lost occasionally in the new Police Administration Building, but she becomes especially disoriented by the fallout from the race for chief, which creates serious conflicts with good friends, strange alliances with old enemies and — very soon now — gives Assistant Chief Pope a shocking and unexpected rival.

Perhaps it is coincidence that I am writing this blog on the kitchen table at my parent's house, where I have come to celebrate my mother's 85th birthday. For more than forty years, my family, in various incarnations, has gathered around this same table to celebrate everything from holiday breakfasts to the end of an ordinary day. My mother, father, sister and I take our same seats in an order unchanged and unaffected by passing political administrations, heart attacks, strokes, deaths and financial panics. Like electrons swarming around an atom, our kitchen table converts us into a temporary element, a substance of nearly motionless matter, which will ultimately decay and fall away as gravity has its way with us all. Yet my desire to be at this table has outlasted quite nearly every other attraction in my life, and I will always think of this chair — the one in which I write this sentence — as the only place on earth that is, in every particular, my own. And, one day, much sooner than I should like, this chair will disappear.

Like Parker Center. And Brenda's old office. And her former position as the favorite of her boss. Just as she seemed firmly established in both work and life, much of what Deputy Chief Johnson took for granted will be torn apart and replaced with something new and unfamiliar. Is this new order better or worse than what she had before?

This is a question we will be asking ourselves, murder by murder, as we head through the summer. And, as always, we hope you will take that journey with us, making your own inquiries along the way.

I cannot close without congratulating Kyra Sedgwick on her fifth Emmy nomination: that's one per season. They are all much deserved. And this year, our nominations doubled when Beau Bridges received a nod for his daring performance as Provenza's ex-partner, George. And, finally, I should like to note that for the fourth time, The Closer's series regulars were nominated for Best Ensemble by their peers at SAG. We are lucky to have such a talented center of gravity for our show. Thanks for inviting us all back for another summer of Monday nights, courtesy of TNT.

James Duff