08/10/2012 12:56 pm ET Updated Oct 10, 2012


No sooner are we gone than we are back. Major Crimes kicks off its series premiere immediately after the finale of The Closer.

As Deputy Chief Johnson and her favorite co-worker depart, the rest of her division is left to contemplate what fairness looks like in the new world they've been forced to occupy. The title "Reloaded" doesn't merely refer to proof of murder, but also to how Captain Sharon Raydor, Lt. Provenza, Lt. Flynn, Lt. Tao, Det. Sanchez, Buzz Watson, Assistant Chief Taylor, Special Agent Fritz Howard, Dr. Morales, DDA Hobbs and Rusty Beck will manage to function without the single-minded leadership of Brenda Leigh Johnson.

In the real world, our justice system is under siege. No, our law enforcement agencies aren't suffering through an attack by super criminals and arch villains; they're beset by a form of financial destitution beyond their power to control. For example, California courts have seen their budgets cut by half-a-billion dollars this year alone, and we are by no means the only state in the country facing these economic pressures. Apparently, there is a limit to how much justice America can afford right now.

In the real world, the pressure to settle criminal cases before they come to court has never been greater. Even more complicated? In California, criminal defendants can't plead guilty to any crime where the death penalty is attached. Leaving politics aside, pursuing verdicts that lead to a sentence of execution by lethal injection adds almost two hundred million dollars to the overall cost of prosecuting homicides each year. With the LAPD firing all its fingerprint analysts, and no overtime allowed by most divisions, it is a marvel that our city continues to function.

This fiscal dilemma, and Assistant Chief Taylor's attempt to solve it, immediately puts Lt. Provenza and Captain Sharon Raydor in a awkwardly tense situation. Tracking suspects with automatic weapons, putting their material witness from an upcoming murder trial (teenage street hustler, Rusty Beck) in the proper custodial environment, and figuring out the key to four murders are just a few of the problems Major Crimes faces as it attempts to reconstitute itself after the devastating departure of Deputy Chief Johnson. Provenza wants confessions; Raydor needs convictions; only one of them can succeed.

I cannot tell you the relief I feel at having some extra time to spend with almost all of our Closer family intact. We were not ready to say goodbye. We offer many thanks to Michael Wright, for looking ahead to a world without Deputy Chief Johnson before I could contemplate such an eventuality, and also to Steve Koonin, who didn't flinch from Michael's vision, and Peter Roth and Odetta Watkins from Warner Brothers, for fighting the good fight with us as we transitioned from our finale to a brand new series (with less than a minute between the end and the beginning). Hope to see you right after The Closer's finale this Monday night, and then in The Closer's old time slot for every Monday through the third week of October.

Next week, Sharon Raydor's uneasy relationship with Lt. Provenza threatens to completely unravel. And we will discuss the new members of our ensemble, Kearran Giovanni and Graham Patrick Martin, as they are more properly introduced.

Until then -- James Duff