The latest episode of The Closer, "To Serve with Love," demonstrates it's a damn shame that this winning series ends after its current run on TNT.
Centering on the off-duty hijinks of Lieutenants Flynn (Tony Denison) and Provenza (the incredibly funny G.W. Bailey from M*A*S*H), intertwined with the on-duty trouble they cause Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick), the installment is a stand-out among stand-outs.
The wonderful Adam Arkin guests stars as a Bernie Madoff type who's in trouble for pilfering pension funds. The two detectives take a supposedly benign moonlighting job to serve him a subpoena, which naturally spins into a murder and crossed swords with the FBI.
The two involve the team's young and naive techie, Buzz, and put the Los Angeles Police Department's reputation in peril as they lose a suspect, wreck a car, run afoul of the Chief's FBI liaison/husband (Jon Tenney) and deliver false information to the media, all to earn a paltry $3,000.
The plot and dialogue shine as the two get deeper and deeper into trouble. The laughs escalate with the "tip off" that the dead body is not the Jewish man he's thought to be, an appearance by the bickering twenty-something wife and daughter of the supposed victim - who went to grade school together - and as Chief Johnson throws Commander Taylor, the constant thorn in her side, unwittingly into a media maelstrom.
Like an Abbott and Costello meets Keystone Cops short, there's hilarity that ends with a win-win for everyone, except Taylor, and Arkin's comic, yet hateful character.
If this program is not on your DVR, you can find it at www.tnt.tv (Episode 3, Season 7). The Closer has only a few episodes left because Kyra Sedgwick has had enough, even though it's drawing nine million viewers per week. There are seven more programs scheduled for this summer and a few more for early 2012. Some characters will be spun off into a new series, Major Crimes, with Mary McDonnell, a semi-regular who plays Captain Raydor.
I can't imagine the show will be as good without Sedgwick's Chief Johnson and the interplay between Brenda and Fritz, but if G.W. Bailey is around with Denison as his straight man, great moments are guaranteed.