Tuesday Toss-Up

A Tale of Two Closers

How Does Major Crimes Sharon Raydor Stack up to The Closer Brenda Leigh Johnson?

The first season of TNT’s Major Crimes has wrapped and the question for The Closer fans is can we love Sharon the way we loved Brenda Leigh?

I’d venture to say “no” but for all the right reasons.

Buttoned-down Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) couldn’t be more different from spitfire Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) but they are identical in their passion for the mission, to protect the innocent and bring the guilty to justice.

Brenda Leigh Johnson

Brenda Leigh Johnson, The CloserLeader of Major Crimes (formerly Priority Murder Squad) for seven seasons.

Quirky. Passionate.Highly intuitive.

Major sucrose junkie. Sneaks sugar hits from her stash of candies and Ding Dongs whenever things get too intense.

Can shift from complete scatterbrain to razor edged focus in mere fractions of a moment.

Persistent in the extreme. Once she gets a whiff of a case, she’ll track the guilty until he or she is brought to justice, no matter what it takes. This intensity (along with her willingness to bend the rules) impacts her professional and personal relationships, sometimes harshly. But it’s hard not to admire Brenda’s almost preternatural ability to zero in on the guilty and draw out a confession.

And all of this with ladylike Southern charm and impeccable manners. Whether her “Thank yew. Thank yew so much.” really means “Thank you” or “go do something physically improbably and obscene to yourself” is up to you to figure out.

Sharon Raydor

Sharon Raydor, Major Crimes

New head of Major Crimes. Formerly of the Force Investigation Division.

First crossed paths with Brenda in Season 5 (Episode 3, Red Tape) when she investigated Sgt Gabriel’s (Corey Reynolds) shooting of an unarmed suspect.

Calm. Cool. Collected. Others often mistakenly assume she’s made of ice but, with a little patience, discover she is also kind, generous and a passionate defender of the defenseless.

Where Brenda is scattered, Sharon is orderly and methodical. She works a case like a puzzle (albeit one where the stakes are life and death), sizing up each piece and fitting it together until she can see the whole picture.

Shares Brenda’s thirst for justice but works within the system and makes the system work for her. No bending of rules…at least not so far.

She knows the system doesn’t always work but believes deeply in its necessity. Without the justice system, all we have left is vigilante justice.


Can we love Sharon the way we loved Brenda?

Probably not.

Where Brenda brought a fierce kinetic energy, Sharon brings a sense of stillness. Yet both characters are strong women, fascinating and complex. They bring out the depth of character in those around them. With Brenda, we watched her team come together and grew to love them. Through Sharon, we’ll see them continue to grow.

 Sure, there’s no thrill quite like watching Brenda outwit a cocky murderer who almost always mistakes her ladylike manner for naiveté. But then we see that Sharon means to walk the killer right into a prison cell.  Although their methodologies differ wildly, both are ferocious champions of justice.

Perhaps we, like Provenza (G.W. Bailey), resist Sharon at first. Maybe she’s just a rule obsessed stick-in-the-mud. And we miss Brenda’s charm. But then we catch a glimpse of Sharon’s heart and we can’t help but begin to fall for her.

I, for one, will miss Brenda but I can’t wait to see how Sharon develops. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to see Brenda again because I’d love to see them play off each other.

What do you think? Does Major Crimes hold up to The Closer? Is there a place in your heart for Sharon? Will the Major Crimes team fall apart without Brenda? What’s in store for Major Crimes and will we get to see Brenda again?


Be sure to Check out Tiffany A. White’s awesome posts on The Closer and Major Crimes. Tiffany’s always got the goods on great tv. Just watch out…she might just get you hooked on more tv than you can handle.

In honor of Brenda Leigh, here’s a recipe for homemade Ding Dongs. Too good to hide in the desk.


10 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Closers

  1. Captain Raydor has grown on me since the new show started. The way she’s taken to raising Rusty has really softened her, and it’s fun to see how she and Provenza seem to be working things out. With Chief Johnson, it was always questionable whetrher the confession she managed to extract would stand up in court, and she seemed to be fighting with the powers-that-be a little too much. With Raydor, you have more of a sense that the adults are in charge.

  2. Thanks for all of the blog love, Sonia!! HUGS

    I’m a HUGE Brenda Leigh fan… if not evident by all of the blog posts. LOL

    But, like Mr. Holton, Captain Raydor is growing on me. I love that like the viewers, the team is slowly warming up to her as well. The Rusty storyline helped “soften” her quite a bit for the TV audience, IMO. I’m happy to see the show will return next summer. Lead “closer” aside, I love the team too much: Provenza. Flynn. Sanchez. Everyone.

  3. I agree with you and John and Tiffany. I began to dislike Raydor a little less as she became involved in defending Brenda from the lawsuit. More recently, Rusty has helped to show her softer side. I don’t like seeing Taylor as the assistant chief, but I don’t know what else they could have done.

  4. I also wish they’d brought in Detective Mikki Mendoza (Paola Turbay) as the new female detective. Nothing against Det. Amy Sikes (Kearran Giovanni), but Mendoza was so hot! Bet all the male viewers would have liked more of her.

  5. @John: I totally agree. I think we caught a glimpse in The Closer of Sharon’s soft heart but now we really get to see it through Rusty. And Brenda’s ability to get a confession was satisfying but there’s definitely the holding up in court issue. It’s neat to see them take a different direction.

    @Tiffany: It’s your fault I watch so much tv, you know. Or DVR so much tv…I don’t always get to watch it. LOL But I do miss Brenda. I would love it if they were able to work her back into the show too. At least here and there. I always loved the conflict, then grudging respect Brenda and Sharon developed.

    @David: I kinda like Taylor…more than Pope anyway. It seems like Taylor’s more honest about his sneakiness somehow. Pope really turned out to be a manipulator.

    1. The thing I liked about it was that they didn’t make it feel like they were replacing Brenda. It stinks to see her go because her character was so fascinating but they made the exit seem plausible and then took the show in a new direction. Usually those things don’t work out so well but I think it was successful in this case.

  6. While we certainly miss Brenda Lee, we are really loving Major Crimes. And, as has already been mentioned, the addition of Rusty has thrown a whole new dynamic into the mix. I’ve seen Raydor close to tears multiple times because she loves that kid. And we love him, too. I’m glad the others have stuck around, too. I was afraid Provenza was going to leave, and he is my favorite supporting character in the show.

  7. The Closer was must-see TV for me. I just didn’t connect to Raydor in the same way. I like Mary McDonnell (hello, Battlestar!), but the character just doesn’t do it for me. And although I love the members of the squad that’s left, it’s not enough for me; not when there is so much good tv to watch and I have to write books, too. I also didn’t like the Rusty kid at all.

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