Never a show to let the dust settle, MAJOR CRIMES returns for Season 3 with a strong, confident style. In turns heart-breaking, terrifying and other times poignant and hilarious, the TNT procedural is more than just a cop show. Its foundation springs from the crimes it showcases and efficiently dispatches, but the beating heart are the colorful and charming detectives that make up the Major Crimes Division of the L.A.P.D. Ten years into its run, initially as THE CLOSER and then as MAJOR CRIMES, fans and viewers keep tuning in each year to see the characters that make this show feel like family.
In fact that is one of the key themes this season: the expectation of family. As show creator and executive producer James Duff explained, “Family is our most personal expectation and family plays a big part in every story, in one way or another. So this is our season of family expectations.” From the relationships between Sharon Raydor [Mary McDonnell] and Rusty [Graham Patrick Martin] to the brotherly bonds of Flynn [Tony Denison] and Provenza [G. W. Bailey], as well as all the shifting familial-like roles amongst all the detectives in the squad, the one thing that truly shines through is how much they all innately care for each other. These detectives are not just partners and co-team members, they all genuinely care for each other and would do anything to protect their familial unit in Major Crimes.
During recent press interviews, James Duff and co-stars Tony Denison, Raymond Cruz, Michael Paul Chan and Robert Gossett shared a bit about working on the show over the past decade and what the future may hold for MAJOR CRIMES.
How would you describe this season? Are there any arcs that the show will explore?
JAMES: Expectations. We have an expectation of civilization. We have the expectation that we will get up in the morning and drive to work and drop our kids off at their grandparents’ house and go in and pick them up and we’ll go out to dinner. That’s our expectation, which is taken for granted. We also have the expectation of family and people are born believing that they will have a family. But that doesn’t always happen. The expectation that family will always be there is false and you have to deal with the reality sometimes. So this [season] is more about the things we take for granted in life and then the things we hope for — the things we really want. We’re looking at the justice system from that point of view; especially the expectation that civilization. We wake up in the morning and turn on our shower thinking that hot water will be there. Then we go downstairs and pour the water for coffee and we expect it to get hot. That expectation is built on the belief of civilization. But civilization is not itself a done deal. We’re having to fight for civilization all the time. [There’s] those people who step outside the river of civilization and start throwing stones in it and polluting it and making it unfit to drink from, and you need somebody who will fight back. So it’s about the expectation of different things, not just the expectation of family.
This season feels like it has a bit of a darker edge. How does that affect those in Major Crimes?
TONY: I don’t think it effects Andy much. Andy has always been the most direct guy of the squad. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. But I do have the opportunity to play with G.W. [Bailey], so that when we have like the first episode a dark episode, we get an opportunity a few episodes in where it is a little lighter and there’s still a murder involved.
RAYMOND: I love it. Criminal activity is dark.
ROBERT: Me too. The world we live in is dark and there’s a certain amount of cynicism. But there seems to be more of it now.
RAYMOND: Or maybe there’s just more outlets and we’re hearing more about it.
ROBERT: I think that crime, even though we’re hearing more about it now, I think the criminal element has always been there. But it seems that crime has taken on this heinous side — it’s a lot more violent.
RAYMOND: I don’t think it’s more pervasive; I think we just hear about it more.
TONY: Mike Berchem, the former lead detective for the City of Los Angeles and now an executive producer on the show, he was telling us that a lot of the stories that they make up and seem so silly comes right from life ’cause fact is stranger than fiction.
One of the reasons I love your show is it feels incredibly real in the sense of these types of crimes really do happen. Thus, it feels comforting to know that there are competent people investigating those crimes and dealing with it because when we watch the news we are not as assured that way. So it’s nice to see that justice is working.
TONY: People get caught up in all this forensic stuff, but at the end of the day, what it really gets down to in a great number of cases is good old-fashioned shoe leather. Just cops walking around the neighborhood, knocking on doors, that’s what solves a lot of crimes. Any cop worth a damn will tell you that, even those working in forensics. You can’t get information into those computers and into those microscopes without some cop going out and actually doing the work.
Having worked on this show, do you feel more reassured in what is happening in the real world and the police are getting the job done?
TONY: I always say this to people: when your car breaks down somewhere and it’s one of those dark and windy roads and that bubblegum light comes up, I don’t care who you are, you feel relief that not only is somebody going to help you, but they’re armed and they can protect you.
How about changes on the positive side? Is Major Crimes Division headed in a positive direction?
MICHAEL: There’s more technology today. When we were doing THE CLOSER, we still had flip phones and now its smart phones. So now if we see a flip phone on this show, it’s like an antique.
Have you been able to upgrade the technology that is used on the show to keep current with the times then?
MICHAEL: It’s definitely happening.
RAYMOND: As you see, we use iPads at crime scenes. We’re sending information over the phone.
MICHAEL: As this season progresses, you’ll see it more and more. Things that surprise even us.
That has always been an interesting dynamic in that your show is trying to reflect a little bit of the reality of whether these departments can actual afford the technology available.
RAYMOND: We’re not super high-tech where you have a hologram screens. We can’t afford that. But we do get iPads and lip-stick cameras.
ROBERT: And pen cameras. But not Google glass, yet.
What is it like as an actor to have a decade of your life invested in this universe, first with THE CLOSER and now MAJOR CRIMES?
ROBERT: It’s great.
RAYMOND: It’s nice to be a part of a long-term project. Plus, all the scripts are different.
ROBERT: And the writing’s good.
RAYMOND: The writing’s really good. We always have opportunities to try different things on the show over a long period of time.
ROBERT: To be able to do that, it’s a privilege. I enjoy coming here and working. It’s like any job that you’ve been working at for ten years. You’ve gone through weddings and funerals and we’ve just kind of grown together as a family.
MICHAEL: I felt a real shift change when THE CLOSER ended and we switched to MAJOR CRIMES. I felt a different dynamic. With the new show, it feels a little fresher and a little bit different.
RAYMOND: It was a different show. It felt completely new. It doesn’t feel like we’ve been doing this show for 10 years.
Are you ready for another 10 years? It feels like the show has momentum after going for such a long time period.
RAYMOND: (Laughs) If everyone lives. I’ve been shot several times on the show and I’m sure I’ll be shot again. I’m always telling James [Duff], “Just kill me, James!”
TONY: I’m up for it. Without a doubt. This is our third year as MAJOR CRIMES, this is the 10th year playing the character and if 7 years from now we’re still doing this show, I can guarantee you that I will tell you that I’m having a ball.
Do you think Flynn wants to put in another 7 years as a homicide detective? He just seems a little world weary at times.
TONY: I think Andy could put in 10 more years. But that’s part of who the character is. The underlying motivation behind Andy’s existence everyday is loyalty — you’ve got his back, he’s got your back no matter what you do. He may have arguments with people or maybe grumpy about something, but he knows that person has his back and he’s got their back. That’s paramount to him. He’s the kind of guy who walks up to the line of “the ends justify the means” and won’t cross it. He goes right up to that line. That’s what makes him noble, in a sense. It gives him valor.
Is there more to come with the personal relationship between Sharon Raydor and Andy, which has been lightly hinted at a few times?
TONY: They’re working on it. Last season our characters went on a couple of dates, but we haven’t seen the dates. It’s only been talked about. I mean, Andy’s not spending the night at her apartment or anything.
Also Sharon’s also still married.
TONY: And that’s one of the definite reasons that hasn’t happened yet. But we’ll see.
We will get the opportunity to see any scenes between Tom Berenger’s character and Andy?
TONY: (Laughs) We had an opportunity for an interchange in one of the episodes.
Is it possible that we’ll see Flynn working with some of the other detectives in the future?
TONY: I’m sure there will be more interplay between Kearran [Giovanni]’s character and my character because she’s still the wide-eyed innocent one and the eager-beaver. And Raymond and I get a chance to do stuff ’cause we’re both kind of the tough guys. So there’s more of that happening. And with Michael. Then we all get a turn being the uncles to Rusty, ’cause we had to sign that adoption paper last year.
With those fun and thought-provoking Season 3 teasers in mind, look for all new episodes of MAJOR CRIMES starting Monday, June 9th at 9:00 p.m. on TNT.