TNT’s crime drama The Closer is preparing its final season for air this summer, but it looks like the door may be left open when it goes. In addition to an extra six episodes extending into the summer of 2012, the cable network may be preparing a spin-off focusing on the judicial side of law and order.

Series producer and star Kyra Sedgwick previously announced that The Closer‘s 7th season would be its last. This was quickly followed by rumors of a super-sized final season, which have now been confirmed. The series has had an excellent run on TNT, easily becoming its most-watched series ever and regularly winning its time slot opposite other cable crime dramas.

The extra room will give The Closer season 7  a total of 21 episodes, a large extension for a series with a standard 15-episode arc. Rumor has it that the extra time is being put in place to build up for a spin-off series, tentatively titled Major Crimes (the fictional division of the LAPD that The Closer focuses on).

Whether or not a second series is created, it’s unlikely that Sedgwick or her character Deputy Chief Johnson will play a major role. The new series would focus on criminals that make deals with prosecutors for lesser sentences, assuring convictions or further aiding other investigations. The compromises inherent in the system will try the patience of Chief Johnson, and may become the catalyst for her departure. A new central character would probably be created for Major Crimes.

Extending the series and creating a franchise makes a lot of sense for TNT. The Closer is one of the most-watched scripted shows on cable, and not undeservedly so. Moving into a multi-series format reminiscent of Law & Order or the various flavors of CSI could be a lucrative and audience-pleasing move. TNT’s newer crime procedurals, gritty cop show Southland and the more light-hearted Rizzoli & Isles, have seen generally favorable audience and critical reaction, but The Closer remains their flagship. Major Crimes could be a great place for the characters that have been painstakingly developed over the last six seasons – Chief Pope (J. K. Simmons) and Sergeant Gabriel (Corey Reynolds) seem like natural choices to make the jump.

Series regulars J.K. Simmons and Corey Reynolds would make good choices for continuing cast members.

As a fan of the series, I’m actually very satisfied that it’s ending in a decisive fashion. Creating a second series seems like a good way to capitalize on The Closer‘s well-developed world of Los Angeles crime and politics without stretching the show out past its due date.

The Closer returns to TNT for its final season this summer.

Source: Entertainment Weekly