I still remember the day when I started watching Major Crimes. It was on a far-too-calm evening in October a few years ago. I just had come home from spending a few weeks in London and was not in the best of moods as I missed the big city and its infinite possibilities. Back then I still used to scroll through my Tumblr timeline every now and then and that was when I encountered a gif that literally changed my life.
It was a 3-second animation of the stunning Mary McDonnell as Captain Sharon Raydor in the TV show Major Crimes. Unfortunately, I am not able to remember which gif it was exactly but it had to be of a scene taken from an episode in season 2. What I do remember quite clearly though, is that the three seconds the gif lasted were enough for this actress to have me completely and utterly fascinated. When you only see a picture or a gif of a person the first thing you really recognize are their looks. It is superficial and it pains me to admit it but it is all one can do in this particular case as there are no means to get to know a person’s character through only an animation or a photo. However, it was not just the incredible beauty and the immense charisma Mary radiated, it were the vibes of “I’m a fucking boss lady” that immediately made me fall in admiration with the character. So I dropped everything else I was doing, ignored my to-do list for university and all other responsibilities and went to look for the pilot episode of Major Crimes. It takes a few minutes for Sharon Raydor to appear on screen for the first time – which is fine, a lady makes an entrance after all – and when she does the entire dynamic shifts and suddenly the show is much more intriguing than it was only a minute ago. I actually had to pause the episode at this point to look up this stunning, talented actress online: Mary McDonnell. Actress who started out in theater. Family person. Feminist. Political advocate. Supporter of Hillary Clinton. Fighting for the rights of Native Americans. Respectful to fans. I was impressed and became not only a big admirer of Mary McDonnell the actress but also of Mary McDonnell the person.
The second episode of the Major Crimes 5-parter “Sanctuary City” starts right where the first episode left off. The team is still in the Churchyard with the newly discovered body of one of the three missing teenagers. As we already saw in the previous episode, Sharon is having a rather hard time dealing with this case and it does not get any better over the course of this episode. However, Sharon’s closeness to the church and the school is a big advantage for the investigation. Father Stan trusts and respects her. Nevertheless, he gets protective of his church rather quickly which creates an even bigger conflict between him and the Commander. A further difficulty appears for the team when suddenly the FBI gets involved in their case and at some point even wants to take over completely.
The pool of suspects seems to get bigger and bigger with every passing minute and DDA Hobbs simply cannot suppress how very annoyed she is about that. In the meantime Rusty asks Andy for help to get Sharon to agree on a potentially crazy idea of his. Sharon’s response is surprising while at the same time it is exactly the reaction one would expect from her.
On a lighter note, the new detective, Camilla Paige, who cannot seem to be able to stop cutting off superior officers mid-sentence, is receiving some help from Wes Nolan to blend in better with the Major Crimes division. Surprisingly she actually tries to take his advice. I still do not quite understand the purpose of her character and I fear it might have something to do with TNT’s believe that “youth” is the secret to get viewer’s to tune in. Otherwise, though, I do not mind her character’s presence.
This Halloween, fans of Major Crimes are getting an extra special treat, as the hit-show’s 6th season premieres on the spookiest night of the year. Scheduling-wise the premiere date is far from ideal but the audience of the crime show has proven several times to be rather dedicated; it would not be surprising if its regular viewers are willing to postpone their trick-or-treating for an hour, to watch their favorite show.
Season 6 of Major Crimes comes with a rather big change: the show goes from episodic to serialized storytelling, which means that the team will now work on one single case for several episodes. One would assume this change alters the dynamic of the show, the way the stories are told, but it doesn’t. Not in the first episode anyway! It pretty much feels like watching a typical episode of the series except no one gets arrested just yet and our favorite division is still clueless as to who committed the crime.
As per usual the episode opens with the victims: three teenagers. The boys are on a school trip when suddenly, they disappear. Not a single person has witnessed anything so the Major Crimes team doesn’t really have much to work with. They receive some extra help from CID Detective Camilla Paige. Paige’s character is smart and lively, but takes some serious getting used to. She appears to be rather rude at first and does not seem to understand the concept of team work. The actress is doing her job very well, but the question what exactly the purpose of her character is still remains unanswered to me. Doesn’t Major Crimes already have enough characters the viewers know far too little about? Adding a further person to the mix does not particularly increase the possibility that the audience will finally get to know the original characters any better. In the last five seasons we only got to know some bits and pieces about the personal lives of the team, which might be due to the show’s genre, but nevertheless, it is something a significant part of the viewers wished were different.
Battlestar Galactica is one of the most popular, most critically acclaimed and at the same time also most overlooked science fiction shows of the 21st century (no Emmy for actors, writers or directors, seriously?). Set mainly in space, at the brink of the end of humanity, it creates a very sobering feeling while at the same time generating an immense amount of suspense for the audience. The show’s characters are deeply flawed; they are traumatized and imprisoned in space, as there is nowhere else for them to go. The cast consists of a big ensemble where everyone gets their fair share of screen time. However, considered as the leading actors are Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos who play President Laura Roslin and Commander/Admiral William Adama.
At the time the show started both actors were beyond their forties, a rather untypical age for lead actors of a TV show, in particular for an actress. Back then – even more so then now – the main motto of the television business was “the younger the female, the better” and once an actress had passed her forties she was considered to have reached her pass-by-date. A way of thinking that thankfully was appalling to Ronald D. Moore, creator of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. He created the character of President Laura Roslin particularly with a middle-aged Mary McDonnell in mind to play her. He had previously seen the two-time Oscar nominee in the 2001 film Donnie Darko and knew he wanted to have her as the president of the universe on his show.
With Moore’s conscious choice of casting McDonnell as one of the lead actresses and the latter’s outstandingly captivating performance, a character that broke one glass ceiling after another was created, making the show to one of the most feminist at the time – a statement which is still true today. With many of her character traits and behaviors President Laura Roslin deconstructs stereotypical images of women, in particular of women who have reached middle-age.
Here are the four most significant stereotypes that Laura Roslin smashes into a million tiny pieces: