The TV crime drama The Closer returns tonight with a two-hour movie to kick off its third season (or part two of a divided second season; I’m not sure how the producers and cable channel are categorizing it). The program stars Kyra Sedgwick as a harried, middle-aged, unmarried Southern belle who works as a deputy police chief in Los Angeles and has to adjust to professional and personal problems in the unfamiliar milieu of Lalaland.

Kyra Sedgwick and G. W. Bailey of TNT crime series The Closer

As I noted earler on the Reform Club blog, The Closer is not nearly as arch as it may sound:

an unacknowledged Americanization of the long-running British police procedural TV program Prime Suspect. In The Closer, now in its second season, Kyra Sedgwick plays a police detective and homicide team supervisor who solves crimes while stumbling charmingly through a rather bumpy personal life. It’s a good show, made appealing by Sedgwick’s excellent performance. She’s quite likeable as the protagonist, and her various problems are handled by both herself and the program’s writers with a fairly light touch.

Unlike most [previous] episodes of the program, [last July’s season premiere episode] had a solid puzzle with several suspects, and the viewer had enough info to solve the crime by the time Brenda was ready to reveal the killer. Most of the appeal of The Closer lies in the non-mystery elements, but having a good mystery made this episode really sing.

The rest of the season’s episodes had good puzzles as well. Tonight TNT resumes the series at 8 EST with a two-hour episode. Here’s TNT’s description:

The two-hour Dec. 4 airing, entitled “Serving the King,” is a two-part episode with the first part directed by two-time Tony nominee Arvin Brown (The National Health, Ah Wilderness!) and the second part directed by Sedgwick’s multi-talented husband, Kevin Bacon.  In it, Deputy Chief Johnson is called upon by her old CIA mentor (two-time Emmy® winner William Daniels) to assist in an off-the-record investigation of a would-be defector found murdered in Los Angeles.  Through a winding and complex case, Brenda must find the common thread linking a former KGB agent, the murder of several CIA agents, a young Lebanese boy thought to be a terrorist and 20 pounds of missing, weapons-grade plutonium.