I was introduced to the show "The Closer" about halfway into the second Season. (Just after the squad was renamed from "Priority Homicide" to "Major Crimes Division".) I liked Kyra Sedgwick's idiosyncratic steel magnolia, L.A.P.D. Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, and the retinue of cops and family members that helped -- and sometimes complicated -- her murder investigations. One of the problems with her method -- getting criminals to confess to their crimes through a combination of evidence, bluff and a knowledge of Human Nature -- was that sometimes she would have to skirt the bounds of L.A.P.D. ethics in order to get her job done. One crime in particular (the murder of a popular store owner and his son by a gang member) leads to her discovering who the gang member is but, without sufficient evidence for an arrest, being forced to release him -- whereupon he is killed by his own gang in retaliation.
This leads to the introduction of Force Investigation Division (L.A.P.D's version of Internal Affairs) Captain Sharon Raydor ("Battlestar Galactica"'s Mary McDonnell), who has to investigate Brenda's conduct of the case. Throughout the rest of the series, Johnson and Raydor form an uneasy alliance as they try to balance investigation with keeping the squad within ethical and legal boundaries. By the end of "The Closer", Johnson and Raydor have formed a bond of mutual respect, but this is complicated by a spy in the Division, a potentially career-ending lawsuit, and a serial-rapist lawyer who tries to kill Johnson and a young witness.
"Major Crimes" begins with Raydor being "promoted" to head up the titular division (over the objections of Det. Lt. Provenza [ably played by G.W. Bailey], and without an actual raise in pay or rank) while having to take up the job of protecting Rusty Beck (the above-mentioned murder witness) and re-directing Major Crimes from having to depend on confessions to making deals with suspects in order to send them to prison.
The First Season deals mainly with Raydor trying to adjust to the enmity of most of the detectives that she now commands (especially that of Provenza, who believes that he should have gotten promoted and doesn't believe that Major Crimes should make deals), and adjust to having to take care of Rusty -- who is focused on looking for his missing mother in the first half, and whose sordid past complicates his relationship with his biological father in the second half.
The thing that separates "Major Crimes" from most police procedurals is that it never lets you forget that the characters are *Human*; and, as such, the characters react to certain situations in human ways. (i.e. Raydor nearly breaking down in tears after Rusty insults her during a temper tantrum -- and, surprisingly, Lt. Provenza coming to her defense.) Also, the division rallying around Rusty in the last episode and making him part of their "family". (Raydor even gets to show a hint of the badassery that she showed in "The Closer" in a tense showdown with his father.) All this while solving a myriad of crimes from an armed-robbery-gone-bad to a violent kidnapping.
So, yeah; this isn't a straight-up procedural in the tradition of, say, the "Law & Order" franchise. But it is a well-made and well-acted project that feels less like a TV show and more like a series of well-crafted 40-minute-long movies. I'm definitely a fan of this one, and I can't recommend it enough for fellow cop-show fans!