Tony Denison, James Duff preview season 5 of ‘Major Crimes,’ back June 13

Michael Paul Chan and Tony Denison in the fifth season debut of "Major Crimes" June 13 at 10 p.m. CREDIT: TNT

Michael Paul Chan and Tony Denison in the fifth season debut of “Major Crimes” June 13 at 10 p.m. CREDIT: TNT

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Thursday, June 9, 2016

Not many TV actors get to play the same character for more than a decade and still enjoy it.

Tony Denison is one of them. The veteran actor has played Detective Andy Flynn for 12 seasons on TNT: seven on “The Closer” and five for “Major Crimes,” which returns Monday for a new season.

“People ask me all the time if I’m tired of playing Andy,” he said. “No, not in the least. Why would I be?”

During “Major Crimes,” Flynn has gotten closer to Mary McDonnell’s character, the boss Sharon Raydor. They began dating season four and are now intimate enough that in the fifth season debut, they discuss the possibility of moving in together.

“I’m really looking forward to the way the story line will unfold between Mary and me for a lot of reasons,” he said. “It’s fun to play that story. Mary is a wonderful person I’ve been a fan of hers for years, going back to ‘Dances With Wolves’ and ‘Passion Fish,’ ” films from the early 1990s.

The show producers are very responsive to its fan base and many folks began calling Sharon and Andy “Shandy” as soon as a budding romance between the pair was hinted. “The fans,” Denison said, “went crazy.”

He is amused that there is even a Facebook fan page for Flynn called “Flynn Girls” along with a popular Twitter handle #FlynnGirls. (Sure, the “Flynn Girls” FB page has only 36 likes but they are a very dedicated crew. And his public Facebook page does have more than 38,000 likes while “Major Crimes” has 569,000)

“I’m not a kid,” said the 66 year old. “They are really into this thing. I’m happy to be a boy toy.”

“Major Crimes” is in many ways the same show as “The Closer” minus Kyra Sedgwick, who played the title character Brenda Leigh Johnson with quirky habits, an aggressive style and a questionable Southern accent. Originally a star vehicle for her, the show ultimately became a strong ensemble show. So despite her departure in 2012, the bulk of the writers, producers, cast and crew stuck around. And so did most of the fans.

The show remains among TNT’s top-rated dramas and was given an broadcast-style 23 episode run last season. For season five, TNT has committed to 13 episodes so far but creator James Duff said in a separate interview that he is expecting more. (UPDATE: 6/22/16: Duff knew what he was talking about. They got eight more for a total of 21.)

Denison has no complaints about the workload. “I could do 35 or 40,” he said. “Riding a tractor trailer is a tough job. This isn’t. Sure, it takes a certain amount of effort and strain but relatively speaking, it’s just a good time.”

Fans enjoy the sometimes playful, sometimes acid exchanges among the characters and the show’s distinctive rhythms as the Los Angeles Major Crimes division systematically solves crimes.

Denison’s Flynn gets to be a tough cop on the streets, do goofy comedy with G.W. Bailey as the resident curmudgeon Louie Provenza and play suitor to Raydor. “It’s a wonderful mix,” he said. “Each episode, I don’t know which aspect of my character the writers will favor. As an actor, that’s great.”

Duff said through 12 seasons, the writers come up with a theme and try to thread that theme into all the story lines. This year will be about balance. “We try to find balance in our professional and personal lives, between our friends and family, our virtual lives and our real lives, between our rational selves and our more primitive selves,” Duff said. “Stories will hinge on that concept.”

Among other story lines, Rusty and Gus’s relationship deepens, Rusty’s biological mom gets pregnant, Sanchez wants to adopt a foster child and Buzz reopens the case of his dad’s murder. And Duff promises more action sequences – except for Provenza. “He doesn’t run – or climb,” Duff said. But Provenza does face a crossroads regarding possible retirement.

“There will be power shifts,” Duff said. “Characters will be thrown off balance.”

TV PREVIEW

“Major Crimes” (season 5 debut) 10 p.m., Mondays, TNT, starting June 13, 2016


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