It's a very "Closer" Christmas. It may not seem the obvious thing to do, but you can celebrate the holidays with a two-hour episode of the TNT hit "The Closer." When the suspect in a string of bank robberies flees to Atlanta, Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) follows, with fiance Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney) firmly in tow. They descend on Brenda's parents (the always fabulous Frances Sternhagen and Barry Corbin) in their zealously festive home where Brenda paws through cupboards looking for quick-fix sugar and attempts to ignore all family tension. Alas, this is not to be. Through circumstances too difficult to explain in so small a space, Brenda, Fritz, Brenda's parents, the fugitive, Lt. Provenza and Andy Flynn all wind up in a monster RV heading from Georgia to L.A.
Mercifully, no pregnant women are involved.
Of course, the episode/event is neither as ridiculous or as heart-warming as it sounds, because the power of "The Closer" is the tension between the dainty neuroses of the main character and the chilling, often gory reality of her job -- and that is handled quite well. Brenda's parents, and through them the viewers, finally see the toll being one tough police officer can take on a person, how dealing with the extremes of human experience makes it almost impossible to live a normal life normally. Especially at Christmas.
And it's worth watching for the high-kitsch decorations and Christmas sweaters alone.
(TNT, Mon., 8 and 11 p.m.)
-- Mary McNamara