“Some best friends…bust crimes.”
Rizzoli & Isles follows Detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon, Law and Order) and Medical Examiner Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander, NCIS) as they team up to solve some of Boston’s most heinous crimes.
Here’s the break down for Season One with a Spoiler Alert in effect for descriptions:
* “See One. Do One. Teach One.” — The serial killer The Surgeon, who once held Rizzoli hostage, returns to finish what he started. Isles disagrees with Rizzoli over the way to trap the killer.
* “Boston Strangler Redux” — A strangulation victim is dumped onto the field where the Boston PD is playing baseball, leading Korsak (Bruce McGill, Lincoln) to the conclusion the Boston Strangler is back. Against her new lieutenant’s wishes Rizzoli pursues the angle leading to a surprising conclusion while Isles’ attempt at dating goes south.
* “Sympathy for the Devil” — When a fifteen-year-old boy is murdered Isles can’t determine cause of death, let alone one that links to Rizzoli’s number one suspect. Rizzoli’s mom awkwardly sets Jane up and Isles tries to help her understand another culture.
* “She Works Hard for the Money” — Finding out who killed a co-ed becomes more complicated when details of her extra-curricular activities comes out.
* “Money for Nothing” — Maura and Jane clash when their differing backgrounds are brought into the forefront on a case. Compounding matters is the re-appearance of Maura’s ex-boyfriend…the victim’s brother.
* “I Kissed a Girl” — Jane has to go undercover in order to determine whether a cheating wife was killed in a hate crime or if one of her female hookups is to blame.
* “Born to Run” — During the Massachusetts Marathon Jane and Maura discover a dead body and when another turns up they have to determine if it’s random or something more. Making matters worse is the desire by the higher-ups to close the race down, which would incite mass panic and possibly result in more deaths.
* “I’m Your Boogie Man” — Hoyt (Michael Massee, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) returns, as does FBI Special Agent Dean (Billy Burke, Revolution). Frost (Lee Thompson Young, The Famous Jett Jackson), Isles, and Korsak team up to help determine who Hoyt’s new partner is in hopes of keeping Rizzoli safe.
* “The Beast in Me” — Maura discovers a shocking connection to their latest victim, and it’s one which puts her life at risk.
* “When the Gun Goes Bang, Bang, Bang” — When the only eyewitness to the shooting of an undercover cop is brought to the precinct the building is taken over by armed gunmen determined to silence her once and for all.
The real reason Rizzoli & Isles works is the dynamic between Harmon and Alexander. The DVD packaging states these two are best friends, but they really aren’t. It’s more accurate to say they’re on their way, and it’s that journey which keeps the viewer tuned in. During the season, they reveal things to each other best friends would have already known. But getting to see their friendship being forged, how their differences end up uniting them, that’s the real crux of the show. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of procedurals out there, and it takes something special to set them apart from one another. In this instance, it’s the friendship between Rizzoli and Isles.
Rizzoli & Isles does a good job of building as it goes along. By the time the season finale comes around, you can definitely look back and chart the growth of the characters as well as the plot lines.
One of the strongest elements of the show is the caliber of guest star they’re able to snag. Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos) is great as Rizzoli’s mom, and Chazz Palminteri is equally likeable as her dad. A few favorites of mine include Billy Burke (go Team Charlie, er Agent Dean!) and Donnie Wahlberg (Blue Bloods).
In terms of technical presentation, the 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is just what you’d expect for modern television, maybe a little darker in places than you’d prefer but not so irritating as to cause you to adjust your set. The Dolby 5.1 audio is mixed very well and I didn’t notice any outliers in levels. The theme song has a definite Irish influence, a nod to Boston’s ethnic heritage. In addition there are a lot of specific musical cues which definitively strike the tone for whatever scene they’re in.
Extras on Disc One: Deleted Scenes (2 min), one of which is a pretty funny encounter between Rizzoli and a mortician.
Extras on Disc Two: Deleted Scenes (6 min), one of which would have really opened up a subplot that at this time remains merely hinted at.
Extras on Disc Three: Gag Reel (4 min); Rizzoli & Isles: Bringing the Characters to Life (8 min), which discusses how the show runners adapted the books the series is based on, specifically the characters of Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles; and Rizzoli & Isles: Chicks in a Bottle (22 min), which recycles much of the other featurette while adding detailed information about the rest of the supporting characters and spoiling the season finale.
There’s an odd reliance on dreams in more than one episode in reference to clues regarding the crime du jour. This isn’t a supernaturally-based show and that element is noticeably out of place. That being said I never watched a procedural with two female leads, and Rizzoli & Isles have a genuine chemistry which comes across on screen.