L.A. WOMAN 


Here I thought I'd stumbled upon a secret of the TV universe, when it turns out I'm just another fan. But I found her first, I'm sure, falling quickly in love with the Southern-drawling character of Chief Brenda Johnson (played by busty 40-year-old Kyra Sedgwick) when the series The Closer debuted last summer on TNT.

Hooked on watching this (CIA-trained) woman's woman cut into men like she was slicing bologna, I started confessing my guilty pleasure to the intelligent, independent women I knew who didn't fall for fads. Soon I realized that our numbers were many, we sisters in Brenda's arms. So many people had caught the buzz of this detective show that TNT called it the sleeper hit of last season. With The Closer: The Complete First Season newly released on DVD so everyone can get up to speed, here comes Season No. 2 — tune in for the opener Monday, June 12.

Nyah, nyah — I've already watched the first two episodes the generous TNT people sent us as enticements. And I'm thrilled to report that (other than too much Glamour Shots-esque styling in Sedgwick's accompanying press photos) there's fun stuff in store. I hate to spoil the element of surprise, so I'll only say that we get to know more about Brenda's personal side as her love life takes a turn. And we get to meet her mama, who also gets to know about her daughter's love life. As for the plots that surround Brenda's (mostly ball-) crushing of bad guys (and sometimes gals, kids and old people), we're getting to know the formula: A mysterious death occurs; Brenda prevents the fools (the men she works with) from rushing in; she smartly leaves no stone unturned; and, voilà, a confession is made and completed with her signature "Thank yew!" That's why they call this head detective "the closer."

This is why we love Brenda:

Beauty. A seasoned actress, Sedgwick also has two children (Travis and Sosie Ruth, now teenagers) with Kevin Bacon, her husband since 1987. But her heaving breasts, long red-blond hair (and longer legs), flashing eyes and clear skin are still undeniably fetching. Even if her features are on the sharp side, they all come together with considerable panache for a 40-ish woman.

Brains. None of the men or women in her department possesses Chief Johnson's remarkable insight. Her hunches are legendary. She's chastised enough other professionals to teach us that you never ask questions you don't already know the answer to.

Witchy wardrobe. The chief's feminine taste in clothes bears a variety of influences: Miss Prim dresses you'd see on a Southern church lady; animal-print low-necked numbers that are downright slutty; cute little cover-ups that look homespun but can only be found for beaucoup bucks at big-city boutiques. Call her the careless clotheshorse.

Bottomless handbag. The chief's voluminous "pocketbooks," as she calls them, hit close to home for many of us. They're the holders of all things needed in the course of a day, the ones that never yield what you're after without a full cavity search — deep and hard.

Disarming quirkiness. The Alabama accent and adages ("You matter to me about as much as a June bug in July"). The thick-framed glasses that fall to the end of her nose. Her insatiable craving for sugary treats. Her clumsiness. It's not an act, and works like a charm for this cagey bird.

No fear. It doesn't matter if Brenda is staring down an evil psychopath who's aching to do her harm — this tough lady don't back down. She's taken a sucker punch from an autistic kid, been viciously stripped down by a hell-bent rapist and been disciplined to edge of extinction by her superiors. Ms. B always comes up fighting, even if she looks dainty doing it.

MORAL grounding. No matter how easy it would be for Brenda to deep-six a depraved criminal in the dark of night, she can't jump to the wrong side. Her mama raised her right.

She LOVES her mama. When the always-on-duty detective's cell phone alerts her to an incoming from back home, the precious baby girl comes out all shucks and stuff. In Episode One of the new batch, she escapes a request to visit ailing Aunt Euclis by explaining her urgent need to interview a serial killer.

Her commitment to the hooker's kitties. In the first season, we learned of Brenda's deep sense of obligation for her inherited cat, which ended up accompanying her to work one busy day because its litter was downloading. Fellow detectives scrambled to control the mewling mess.

She's a sex kitten herself Oh boy. Wasn't she a naughty girl the night she left her body wire on after hours while rolling around with her hot-bodied love interest? Oh my. The other detectives in the squad just happened to be listening on the other end.

She's always full of surprises, that Brenda Johnson from Alabama, working the big boys in Los Angeles. That's why we'll be tuned in for at least another season.

THE CLOSER SEASON PREMIERE

9 p.m. Monday, June 12

TNT

THE CLOSER: THE COMLETE FIRST SEASON DVD

Warner Home Video

$29.95

arts@orlandoweekly.com

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