TNT's "Closer" Returns Strongly, "Saving Grace" Doesn't


    TNT’s two strong and quirky female law-enforcement characters, Kyra Sedgwick’s crafty Brenda of The Closer and Holly Hunter’s troubled Grace of Saving Grace, return tonight with season-opening episodes of their respective series. One works. The other doesn’t.

    The successful one is The Closer, which launches season four by having Brenda dealing with a trial by fire – or, at least, an interrogation after fire. A raging wildfire in the hills above Los Angeles leads to a discovery of bodies, and also leads Brenda to suspect murder as well as arson. That’s especially true after she notices a former adversary, an arsonist/killer played by Jason O’Mara in season one, standing at the police line of the crime scene.

    Her interrogations of him, and his cat-and-mouse playing with her, make for a very watchable dynamic, and a very entertaining fourth-season opener.

    Over on Saving Grace, which begins at 10 p.m. ET, Grace is playing cat and mouse, too, but her game is played outside the law. She’s captured, and tied up and detained, the priest (Rene Auberjonois) who molested her as a child, and torments him with small and not-so-small indignities as she decides whether to pull the trigger on the gun she aims at him constantly.

    Hunter and Auberjonois are excellent actors, and do everything they can with this dark scenario – but even for a haunted character such as Grace, this is standoff that, while dramatic and involving from an actors’ showcase point of view, doesn’t fit consistently with either the series or the character. Saving Grace, starting season two, has the same lack of internal logic it has displayed fro the start, and seeing Holly Hunter display her acting skills is the only real reason to watch.
    The Closer, on the other hand, is as solid as ever, and, in this slow summer, is very, very welcome.