No Time for Re-Runs

from CJ

So, now that we have four seasons of TV (which I kinda hate because all too often the only shows I like are on opposite each other and unless they're also online I can't catch up with re-runs in the "off" season) I thought I'd share my thoughts on some summer crime shows that just ended. 

First, Law and Order: Criminal Intent.  I've never been a big fan of this show, but had to see what would happen when they added one of my favorite actors Jeff Goldblum to the mix.  Have to say that I enjoyed his take on tortured and a little-wacky cop better in the short-lived Raines.  His CI Detective Nichols is too smart, too smug, too smarmy...just like his counterpart, Detective Goren. We often already know who-done-it, so why not let us see how hard it is for our detectives to make their case instead of hammering us over the head with how much smarter these characters are than us plain folk?  It's Columbo on steroids, but without the humanity.

Saving Grace was one of my favorite shows its first two seasons.  This season, however, was a miss for me.  Every episode felt like an inside joke between the writers and the cast--in fact, one entire episode was about an elaborate practical joke/fake murder the characters pulled on each other!!!  The characters are all very interesting, but seem to spin out of control when they don't have an over-arching story-line to hold fast to, and this in season that anchor was missing.  Even Earl's halo lost its sparkle as most of his dialogue consisted of "I dunno, Grace" rather than the witty repartee that added zing to the first seasons.

Burn Notice.  When it first debuted, I was worried that this show may not last long--which would be a shame because it has a great cast of wonderful actors, blends action, drama, and comedy, and is just fun to watch!  The writers have cleverly taken what could have deteriorated into a tiresome premise (a spy gets burned and wants to find out why) and with each season have twisted the premise by answering some questions and raising more questions as well as the personal stakes to the main characters.  And the cast's chemistry is some of the best on TV, not to mention the witty dialogue and the fast-paced, unrelenting action!  One of my favs and I can't wait for next season!

In Plain Sight is in its second season.  The main character is a female US Marshal juggling a dysfunction family, an often dysfunctional work environment, and her own, well, dysfunctional personality.  The first season it was interesting to see a smart, strong female action lead, but the personal luggage (both figurative and literal) quickly grew tiresome.  How many times do we need to see Mary manipulated by her alcoholic mother and user-loser sister?  How many times do we need to get hit over the head with her abandonment and commitment issues?  How many times do we need to see her male partners (both romantic and professional) quietly pine for her affection like lost puppies only to have Mary insult and humiliate them, again?  While this season rehabilitated Mary's family, it did little to polish Mary's abrasive pugnaciousness and ended on cliff-hanger where Mary hangs close to death.  I'm not sure if I'll be back to see if she makes it into the next season....

The Closer was a show I almost gave up on last season--Brenda, the main character's main dilemma was whether or not to commit to her long-time, long-suffering, nice-guy fiance.  By the end of last season, I was hoping he'd just shoot her and put her out of everyone's misery.  But instead, the saintly Fritz did marry Brenda and this season they're coping with their wedded not-so-bliss.  And I have to say, this season rocks!

Not only have the writers allowed Brenda to mature in her relationship with Fritz, she's also matured professionally, earning the respect of not just her team but also people who had previously been her biggest detractors.  But the writers didn't let her rest on her laurels.  Instead they upped the ante as Brenda juggles personal crises (mundane, everyday things that all of us can relate to like a dying pet and a rebellious teen relative), wrestles with moral and ethical dilemmas that have no easy answer, and risks friends, family, and Fritz in her quest for justice for her victims.

She's a complex character who never takes the easy way out (although she does often manipulate even those closest to her when it suits her) and at times is even unlikeable when she places her case (is it her need for justice or a need to win at all costs??? neither, both?) before everything--including her loved ones.

Multi-faceted characters like Brenda, even when I don't agree with what she chooses, will always get me back for more!

So those are my hits and misses for the summer TV season--you tell me, what shows did you like?  Which ones are you most looking forward to start this fall?

Thanks for reading,

About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller."

The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009 and the third, URGENT CARE, is due out October, 2009. Contact her at

Photos courtesy of: USA network and TNT


  1. I migrated almost entirely to TNT this summer and enjoyed The Closer. I watched Saving Grace out of loyalty, but this season wasn't as good as before. It's just getting too fuzzy as to why Grace has an angel in her life. I also like Leverage. Although the lead isn't female, there are a couple of talented women in the ensemble.

  2. Oh, I love LEVERAGE!!! Great ensemble--love it when I see a team working so well together. In fact, that was one of the things that drew me to Saving Grace at first--the homicide team felt like a real cop team with their jibes and camaraderie.

    Leverage just started its season, but so far, it's definitely keeping my attention. Plus, somehow Timothy Hutton gets cuter as he grows older!

  3. CJ - I haven't seen even one of these shows. I'm not a huge TV viewer, so that's not strange for me. My husband and I watch films, mostly, or really cultish shows.

    But I can relate to your fear when you started watching Burn Notice and worried that such a great show would get yanked immediately. For my husband and me, that's what seems to happen to any regular network show that we actually like.

  4. I know what you mean, Julia--the best shows seem to get yanked awfully fast.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I also love Leverage. I love Holly Hunter too, but Saving Grace doesn't captivate me the way I thought it would. But then, I don't make it a point to watch any show regularly, the commercials on TNT and USA are so frequent as to be obnoxious. I honestly can't wait until TV's through some online source where we can bypass all that! It really takes away from the viewing experience for me.

  6. I agree, Cate. Nowadays most of my TV viewing is online at my it!

    Wish all the networks (you listening, TNT???) would get on board with the program!

  7. I for one absolutely love Mary McCormick and In Plain Sight. LOVE IT! I drive my husband crazy every week with how much I love it. This week I get to watch it for a two whole hours. Heaven help the person who tries interrupting.

    I was into CI in the beginning because I was a fan of D'ofrio but when they started flipping back and forth between days I lost interest. But Goodblum has renewed my interest and I'm looking forward to seeing this week's episode (currently getting pvr'd).

    Best wishes,

  8. I love The Closer. You described Brenda's character really well.

    Since I'm not in the US, I dunno half the shows you mention, but I absolutely hate it when a show just starts to mire in itself. Lost and Heroes come to mind.

    One I really liked and which I thought quite interesting was Day Break. This cop gets framed for a murder and when he wakes up, he finds it's the same day when he was arrested. But, he wakes up with the knowledge of what happened the previous day, and every day break is the day he was arrested. I thought it would be stale, but it was in fact one of the most dynamic storylines I've ever encountered. definitely worth a watch that one!



  9. Been wanting to catch Burn Notice but haven't yet - hope to though 'cause I love Bruce Campbell and he's in it! I've lost interest in Law and Order CI - my fave is Law and Order SVU because the characters have great chemistry and the show is so intense and emotional - I think it's the best show in the franchise. Thanks for your list CJ! So many great shows - so little time!

  10. I'll admit, I do enjoy CI and Jeff's character. The writing though isn't as good as the other offerings out there.

    Burn Notice is my favorite and The Closer a close second. Both are top-notch shows that keep me glued to the tube (though I agree, the wedding dilemma was a bit boring last season).

    I also enjoy Royal Pains. Though hubby and I are getting very tired of the tendency to stick in the boring cliche: the on again/off again relationship. Ho-hum.

    Although sillier this season (if that's possible) we still enjoy Monk and Psych.

    Another two we've watched include Mental on Fox, which is set in a psych ward. Interesting plot lines.

    And on NBC, Defying Gravity, set in the future and following both the astronauts in space on a mission to Mars and the crew on ground. It also zips back and forth from the past (as the astronauts train and are picked) to the present. Intriguing story-line and characters.

    Summer is definitely out of the ReRun zone!

    Great post, CJ!

    Chiron O'Keefe
    The Write Soul:


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