I rarely go out of my way to watch "The Closer," but when I do catch it, I'm never disappointed. As cop dramas go, it's pretty by-the-books, with decent (if not groundbreaking) cases for Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) and her team to solve. But the plot matters less than Sedgwick's strong performance: Her engaging presence invites us to try to make sense of Brenda, a tough yet lovable bundle of neuroses. I love how she takes no sass from nobody, but still maintains her Southern sweetness in a job that can break the best of 'em. Even though I'm just an occasional viewer of the show, I can understand why Sedgwick took home the Golden Globe for best dramatic actress this year.
Unfortunately, judging by its first episode, "Heartland" isn't yet a worthy companion to "The Closer." Treat Williams stars as Nathaniel Grant, a talented transplant surgeon whose philandering and single-minded dedication to his work have screwed up his relationship with Kate (Kari Matchett), who works as a counselor for the families of organ donors. The medical parts of "Heartland" are perfectly adequate, but when the show focuses on the characters' personal lives, it can be downright dreadful. Something about the pacing in the first episode seemed off, too, as if the show were simultaneously trying to do too much and not advancing the plot carefully enough. Still, it wasn't unwatchable, and true medical show junkies might want to give it a shot.
To watch previews for both shows, read more