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Geekscape Interviews: ‘Major Crimes’ James Duff

Tuesday 9th January 2018 by Alexandra Gallarza

In the year 2005, TNT picked up a show called The Closer, about a Deputy Chief by the name of Brenda Leigh Johnson, who worked on some of the cruelest cases brought to the LAPD’s front door. Fast forward seven years, the series star Kyra Sedgwick said goodbye to her crew and audiences said hello to Mary McDonnell and Sharon Raydor for Major Crimes. Now, the show is saying goodbye again.

In a span of 13 years, the crew and a majority of the cast stayed together. From the pilot of The Closer, to the finale of Major Crimes, hundreds of hours were spent on creating unique cases, suspects and victim’s stories that were unique, characters that were relatable and memorable, friendships that were unforgettable. At the helm of all of this is James Duff; the visionary behind the characters, the cases, the idea.

We at Geekscape had the privilege to speak to Mr. Duff before the season began, on the heels of it’s cancellation. Since then a lot has happened. Storylines hit close to home for some, the loss of a main character struck a nerve, and the realization that saying goodbye to this show was imminent. Now with the ending of the series upon us, we spoke to him again.

With the show being one of, if not the top-rated show for TNT, it’s a bittersweet farewell. Over the last few years the show went from their usual Monday night time slot, which it held for 10 years, to Wednesday, to ultimately Tuesday nights. Their ratings held. Their audience kept coming back. For good reason.

The show had interesting characters. Cases that rung true to ways of life and provided an insight into the lives of LAPD officers. Characters made the transition from The Closer to Major Crimes with new characters being introduced and settling into our hearts. One of those characters was portrayed by Mary McDonnell, who was nominated for her work on The Closer, as Captain Sharon Raydor.

Fans were forced to say goodbye to Sharon Raydor, when her character died four episodes before the end of the show. In a move that upset a lot of fans, we asked James what caused him to make that move.

“We wanted the audience to let go with us,” Duff remarked. “We knew the audience was going to fight, that the audience was going to struggle and not want us to go.”

It was announced in the summer that Billy Burke, who Duff claimed to be a genius, would be returning to the show as the serial killer Phillip Stroh. With Sharon Raydor gone, the team is left vulnerable in their grief- much like the fans who are reeling with her departure.

“The archetype of the leader, taking her band of heroes to the battle, but can’t be allowed to participate is not new.” Duff said.

When asked if Sharon Raydor was ever going to be involved in this battle with Phillip Stroh, he answered, “No.”

“To me it’s an expression of my heart and soul,” Duff said, in regard to the show and the show ending. “I wanted to grieve and I wanted the audience to grieve with us.”

The final table read was bittersweet. The final days of shooting were bittersweet. Saying goodbye to these characters, difficult and emotional.

“The feeling of loss permeated our company. No one felt it more keenly more than I did,” Duff added. “It’s admitting that the show was over.”

Now that the show is over, screen has gone black, the question is What’s next?

“I have a couple features back to back that I’m writing,” he told us. “We’ll see if they’ll get made. I have a pilot that I’m shopping.”

Being involved in this show for the last thirteen years, he claimed “I haven’t really had an opportunity to think of the future.”

With the show ending, Duff hopes that there can be things in the future that will allow this family that was created to come together once again.

Major Crimes aired on TNT.