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6/09/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

The Closer

Turner Network Television Monday, June 12 (9 p.m. ET/PT)

Expectations couldn’t be higher as TNT megahit The Closer kicks off its sophomore season. The police drama, which premiered last June, came on strong and just kept going — emerging as ad-supported cable’s top-rated original series in 2005, according to Nielsen Media Research data. Now The Closer is back, and one of the big questions of the summer season is: Can the series close in on the same kind of success the second time around? The answer is yes, judging from the season opener.

All the elements that made the series work last season are still in the mix — chief among them Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick). Atlanta transplant Johnson, whose investigative skills land her the top job in the L.A.P.D.’s Priority Homicide Division, is still juggling professional and personal challenges. On the job front, she’s had to gain her team’s respect while tackling high-profile cases — in this season’s premiere, a police officer has been killed. On the personal front, there’s her relationship with FBI agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney) and the fact that she once had an affair with her married (but maybe soon-divorced) boss Will Pope (J.K. Simmons).

While much of the police procedural goings-on may seem routine, Sedgwick’s quirky, very human characterization of Johnson is The Closer’s hook with viewers. Not surprisingly, in its first season, the show was No. 1 among women ages 18-49 and 25-54. Key to The Closer’s continued success will be its ability to deliver storylines and characters as interesting as its main protagonist. —George Vernadakis

Saved

Turner Network Television Monday, June 12 (10 p.m. ET/PT)

Turner Network Television is attempting to secure its second hit series in as many summers with the premiere of Saved, a dramatic, character-driven medical skein.

The fast-paced show stars Tom Everett Scott as Wyatt Cole, a medical school dropout who finds his calling as a Portland paramedic. Despite his rocky and rebellious relationship with his famous chief surgeon father, his destructive and painful gambling habit and his failed attempts at reconciling with his former girlfriend Alice (Elizabeth Reaser), it’s difficult not to like Cole’s character. He comes across as genuinely caring for the people he treats during the frenzied rush of being a first responder. Whether its singing a few bars of Sting’s “Every Breath You Take” to comfort a woman in labor, befriending an abused child, or playfully interacting with his co-workers, you get the sense that Cole is slowly saving his own unfulfilled life through saving the lives of others.

The show moves at a breakneck pace, but Saved executive producers David Manson (Thief) and David Nevins (Arrested Development) skillfully weave in the intricacies of the characters between each adrenaline-filled ambulance emergency. Also noteworthy are the quick montages that reconstruct the events that led up to each victim’s predicament.

Last year TNT’s The Closer was the surprise hit of the summer. But the only surprise surrounding Saved would be if it didn’t become another ratings darling for the drama network. —R. Thomas Umstead

 

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