Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Major Crimes: The Complete Fourth Season DVD Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
The fourth electrifying season of Major Crimes finds the elite team of investigators facing some of their most challenging criminal cases yet. The division is led by department head Captain Sharon Raydor, portrayed by Oscar® nominee Mary McDonnell (Dances with Wolves, Battlestar Galactica). The unit is comprised of Lieutenant Provenza (G.W. Bailey, The Closer, M*A*S*H, Police Academy), Lieutenant Andy Flynn (Tony Denison, The Closer, Crime Story), Lieutenant Mike Tao (Michael Paul Chan, The Closer, Arrested Development), Detective Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz, The Closer, Training Day), Detective Amy Sykes (Kearran Giovanni, One Life to Live), tech expert and reserve police officer Buzz Watson (Phillip P. Keene, The Closer, The D.A.), Dr. Morales (Jonathan Del Arco, The Closer, Nip/Tuck) and Assistant Chief Russell Taylor (Robert Gossett, The Closer, Arlington Road). Deputy Chief Fritz Howard (recurring guest star Jon Tenney, The Closer, King & Maxwell) also lends a hand as head of the Special Operations Bureau.

Show (4 out of 5 stars)
“Major Crimes” is a great show. As one of my favorites, I find myself eagerly awaiting the next episode from week to week. The adventures of Captain Sharon Raydor and her team in the Major Crimes Division continue to be exciting and unknown. After four seasons, the stories just keep getting better and after many more seasons for the cast and crew, they keep getting better as well.  I still kind of hate the Rusty Beck character – he’s still whiny and annoying, but a little less so than in previous seasons. I enjoy the interaatcions between each of the characters and really like that Sharon Raydor and Lt. Andy Flynn have grown closer and started a relationship. Provenza’s relationship with Patricia, the grandmother of a young woman the detectives arrested for murder, is sweet and I like seeing them together. I like that we learned a bit more about Sanchez’s wife and how she died, which gives some good insight into his anger and his attitude. Tao and Buzz are great and they always bring a lot to each episode.

“Major Crimes” season four includes 23 episodes, five of which was an extended episode broken out. The episodes and brief synopses are listed below:

Episode 1: A Rose is a Rose – When a man is found dead in his home the Major Crimes Division arrives at the crime scene ready to hand it over to another division. But when a girl runs from her home screaming, the team finds a woman dead in her walk-in closet. As the team investigates, they find that the suspects in some similar crimes are not the killers in these two crimes. Meanwhile, Rusty needs to complete an assignment for his journalism class and finds, with some help from Buzz and Lt. Provenza, he’s following the wrong story.

Episode 2: Sorry I Missed You – After a car chase ends within the Los Angeles city limits, the Major Crimes Division responds to the scene. Upon arriving, they find that the owner of the vehicle is dead in the trunk and the driver was a hired assassin. Finding the real killer proves challenging when the suspects range from the vehicle owner’s wife, to the assassin’s wife, or lawyer. As they investigate, Julio has a hard time separating himself from the case due to personal reasons. And Rusty continues his investigation into the murder and identification of Jane Doe #38, also known as “Alice Herrera.”

Episode 3: Open Line – A woman is murdered in her apartment and the Major Crimes Division is called to the scene. When they find out that the whole murder was recorded by spyware, they hunt down the spy, who turns out to be the woman’s photographer. Finding the killer proves to be difficult when the suspects could be anyone who knew the woman. Meanwhile, Rusty lands himself in a bit of trouble when he visits Jane Doe’s killer in jail.

Episode 4: Turn Down – Responding to a domestic call at a hotel, Flynn, Provenza, and Buzz find a body in another room. The body belongs to a guest of a wedding taking place the next day. The team investigates and finds that the whole wedding party and family are crazy and that they all had a reason to kill the guest. Rusty gets a lead on Jane Doe’s case, but has trouble getting into her voicemail to listen to her messages.
Episode 5: Snitch – Rusty breaks Jane Doe’s voicemail password with the help of a friend and continues his investigation into her identity. Captain Raydor and the rest of the Major Crimes Division work on finding out who committed a triple homicide. Sykes finds a witness, but when she finds out that it’s an eight-year-old girl, she does her best to keep the child safe and out of the investigation.
Episode 6: Personal Effects – Bones are found in the hills above Los Angeles and they turn out to be those of a rapist. The Major Crimes Division works to find out if the killer was his victim, his family, or someone else his alcoholism affected. Provenza enlists Rusty’s help when Patrice moves into his house and wants to redecorate.

Episode 7: Targets of Opportunity – Two police officers are killed when assisting two other officers. The Major Crimes Division takes on the case and searches for the killer – the man they think the officers had arrested shortly before. When the witness tells them it was other police officers who committed the murders, the Division goes on high alert and pulls out all the stops in order to find them.

Episode 8: Hostage of Fortune – Because of a “Dateline”-type television show, a kidnapping case from two years ago is reopened by the Major Crimes Division. When the lead FBI agent in charge arrives to “consult,” the Division finds that everything the FBI thought is wrong. Rusty finally finds Jane Doe’s brother, who provides him with her real name, Mariana Wallace.

Episode 9: Wish You Were Here – After Captain Raydor informs Mariana’s brother, Gustavo, of her death, Rusty helps him process the information and identify her body at the morgue. At the same time, a video of a man walking almost naked down the streets of Los Angeles with a gun is posted on social media, and the Division has to figure out if he’s a victim of a murder or committed suicide.

Episode 10: Fifth Dynasty – The son of a tough judge is murdered in his home and the Major Crimes Division investigates the possibility that the he was murdered by the members of a motorcycle gang the judge is currently overseeing the trial on. Family secrets come to light when the judge’s nephew is reported missing and the family has to face some terrible truths. Gustavo agrees to stop looking for his little sister Paloma after telling Rusty and Flynn what Mariana ran away from him in the first place.

Episode 11: Four of a Kind – The Major Crimes Division catches a case where four members of an illegal underground poker game are shot and killed. The Division finds out that there is a player missing and hunts him down. Flynn is injured while apprehending the actual suspect, but returns to work sooner than he should. Not that Rusty knows the identity of Jane Doe (Mariana), he starts to focus his investigative story on her killer, Slider.

Episode 12: Blackout – The domestic violence murder case of a woman finally goes to trial and the defense attorney is none other than Captain Raydor’s ex-husband, Jack. He “uncovers” some evidence that effectively clears his client, but Captain Raydor and the rest of the Major crimes Division have their doubts as to Jack’s motives. Rusty meets with Slider and begins interviewing him.

Episode 13: Reality Check – When an “Amazing Race”-type reality show loses one of its contestants when the car she is driving goes off a cliff, Captain Raydor and the Major Crimes Division investigate all the contestants and try to figure out who committed the crime. Rusty interviews Slider about his life before he was arrested in order to get more information about what might have happened to Mariana (Jane Doe / Alice).

Episode 14: Taking the Fall – A stockbroker is murdered in his driveway the day before Thanksgiving and it throws everyone’s plans off. The Division works fast to solve the case so they can enjoy their holiday, but the victim might not be such a stand up guy afterall. While recovering, Flynn suffers a setback in his recovery.

Episode 15: The Jumping Off Point – A young man is found in an alley after having jumped from the parking garage, but it turns out he didn’t jump. The Detectives investigate his life and find out that he has a secret life and that’s what is funding his fancy apartment and car. Flynn, recovering in the hospital, is being driven crazy by his physical therapist, and Rusty continues visiting Slider in the county jail.

Episode 16: Thick as Thieves – The Major Crimes Division investigates when a diamond thief is found dead in the basement of a house after he skips bail. Turns out, the suspect is a con man who has multiple identities, but might not be the murderer. Slider’s trial begins and Rusty is put in an awkward position between Slider and Gus, Mariana’s brother.

Episode 17: #FindKaylaWeber – The daughter of a baseball player is kidnapped and the detectives rush to find her. But when the team finds her, it’s not a happy reunion for the family. Rusty tries to explain his relationship with Slider to Gus as he prepares to testify on Slider’s behalf during the sentencing portion of his trial.

Episode 18: Penalty Phase – A film school professor is executed in his office and the team hunts down a former film student who is eliminating everyone who disappointed him. That means, they don’t know who the next victim might be because everyone has disappointed him. Slider is finally sentenced for the murder of Mariana and Rusty and Gus become closer.

Episodes 19-23: Hindsight – Episodes 19-23 is a five-part episode A young black woman and her baby are killed in a shooting. The Major Crimes Division investigates the crime in the racially charged neighborhood while fighting off attacks, charges of racism, and the chance of the crime being gang-related. When Sykes takes the bullet casings to the crime lab, they match with an Uzi from a crime from a few years ago when a District Attorney and her body guard were killed while trying the case of a cop killer in which the gun was also used. As the detectives investigate, all sorts of different suspects appear, including the defendant from the cop killer case, the disgraced former cop who perjured himself on the stand, the gang, or the suspected killers from the original case. Unfortunately, as the investigation proceeds, more people are killed and the pressure is on. When the Division ultimately solves the case of the young woman and her son, they end up solving all the killings and finding justice for the original cop victim, the district attorney, and her body guard.

As for Rusty’s story, when his biological mother, Sharon Beck, is released from jail, Rusty finds her and she rebuffs him warning him that if she comes forward, he could be hurt. But Rusty pursues his mother, she finally confesses and is rearrested. But before she can be sentenced, she cuts a deal to roll over on her boyfriend, Gary, who abused Rusty when he was a child, and set up Sharon to take the fall for a crime he committed.
Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The widescreen presentation of “Major Crimes” is pretty good. Slightly better than what was shown on television, the DVD video was well done. Colors are bright and realistic and scenes move smoothly from one to another.

Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I didn’t hear much of an improvement in the audio from when I watched it on television and on the DVD. The dialogue is clear and easily heard and the surrounding sounds blend well with each scene. The volume is even and gunshots are at just the right level. Subtitles in English for the deaf and hard of hearing, French, Chinese and Spanish are included if needed.
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
I had hoped for more special features and was really disappointed. There’s so much they can do with a procedural such as this one – from behind-the-scenes looks to explanations of the police procedures to interviews with the cast and crew. The few deleted scenes and the gag reel were good, they both just left me wanting more.
  • Deleted Scenes – 10 deleted scenes are spread out over the discs. None of them added anything to the show and were good deletions. 
  • Gag Reel – Four minutes of screw ups and bloopers from through the season. This was really entertaining and I found myself laughing out loud at a few of them.
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
“Major Crimes” is one of the favorite summer and winter shows. I like that each season is broken up so we get some episodes in each of the seasons. Unlike other shows, I don’t need to wait a year for each new season or like other network shows, there isn’t a summer or winter break. I’ve been watching “Major Crimes” since the beginning, and even before when it was “The Closer,” and each season just gets better and better. It’s definitely a must see if you are a fan of police procedurals.

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