This was posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
For the first time in the show's history even going back to "The Closer," TNT's "Major Crimes" killed off a major character during the season 5 mid-season finale last fall.
During that episode, a white supremacist took a gun used for evidence (and was loaded) to shoot up several people in court - including Russell Taylor (Robert Gossett) who was assistant chief of operations for the LAPD. The show returns for its second half February 22 at 9 p.m.
Gossett played a captain and then commander in the robbery-homicide division while on "The Closer." Taylor played a foil to Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, often trying to undermine her. In 2012, he was promoted for the spin-off "Major Crimes," which kept most of the original cast.
This was not a forced departure. Gossett was ready to go.
"Robert Gossett is a good friend and someone I worked with for a dozen years," said creator and executive producer James Duff. "But the role was only so big. It wasn't central to the action. He had transitioned from a villain to a fairly good guy. He was feeling he didn't have much of a challenge in terms of a professional life. He had done that part for a long time."
He called the departure "bittersweet" but believed Gossett simply needed to do something else.
Duff said police officers have felt besieged in recent years and police shootings spiked significantly last year. In that episode, he wanted to show a courtroom shooting as authentically as possible and highlight how dangerous their jobs are. "I want to show the police not as I want them to be or as they want to see themselves but as they are. They're very vulnerable right now."
He said the show "also wanted to demonstrate the attack on our justice system by extremists and the white power movement."
"We were a few months ahead of our time," Duff added. "We weren't trying to predict a resurgence of Aryan gangs. I don't know how else to call them. We wanted to show terrorism in the United States. Since 9/11, terrorism has been basically a crime perpetrated by white guys in t-shirts and weapons."
The second half will feature jockeying to see who might take Taylor's place including Camryn Manheim's steely deputy chief character chief Winnie Davis who will not make Captain Sharon Raydor's job easy.
Among other characters, Provenca considers retirement (although the LAPD has no mandatory retirement age). The relationship between Flynn and Raydor continues but may hit a juncture point as Flynn has a health scare. Sanchez is still trying to be a foster dad. Buzz is dealing with the arrest of the man who killed his father and leaving that man's family destitute. Gus and Rusty's relationship hits a roadblock.
And deputy medical examiner Dr. Fernando Morales gets a major story line for the first time when his father visits and he pretends to be much more involved in cases than he really is. The Major Crimes unit actually plays along and he even ends up in the interview room at one point. "It has sort of a bittersweet ending," Duff said. "The last scene in that episode is one of the best we've ever done."
This back order of eight came too late for them to finish the episodes in time for the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays.
Duff misses doing those classic Christmas episodes, which tend to be more personal. So by debuting now, "Major Crimes" had to cede Monday nights to the NBA and was moved to Wednesdays at 9 p.m. for the first time ever.
He started "The Closer" before social media was prevalent. Now he said he stays in regular contact with many die-hard fans. "I'm on a first-name basis with a lot of them," he said. "We don't even like using the word fans. We use dedicated viewers. We feel like they're part of the process. Fan is a bit of a dismissive word."
TNT has guaranteed a sixth season of 13 episodes minimum but he does not know when the show will return once season five is over.
"Major Crimes," 9 p.m. Wednesdays, TNT