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Stop with Seasons 1-4
on May 11, 2014
There are a lot of reviews on here, and I have to say I am surprised at the number of 5-stars for Season 5. Seasons 1-4 are the pinnacle of modern cop shows. This show actually thinks about competing with NYPD Blue in the pantheon of great cop shows. That's high praise, at least from me. Of course, Southland follows the contemporary formula of upping the violence levels to ultra-realistic and disturbing heights--yet it has always done so in service to the story. Either it was realistic and largely unexplored in the genre, so they explored it. Or it was disturbing, and it affected or corrupted a character, so it served the story--and it was done well, even if it was ugly. But it worked--and the gritty realism, whether the f-bombs (unbleeped on the DVDs) or the violence, were always used in service to the story, which was generally a show about heroes doing terrifying work and still living their personal lives out around it, even if they were flawed or the work itself ate them up.
As a tremendous fan of the show, I went into Season 5 excited and ready for more.
They lost "it," in my opinion. Characters went too far and were driven by a storyline, but it wasn't what this character would have done a season ago. I could take that, because sometimes people just make stupid mistakes, but it was part of a pattern of pushing the envelope just for pushing the envelope's sake. At one point, the show just went and did a terrifying episode that was monumentally gripping but pushed the thing over into almost the horror/thriller genre rather than cop show. It may have even been realistic, but it was clearly the shock-value driving the story, and, at this point in Season 5, the show was driving somewhere I didn't want to go anymore.
I finished it out as it aired, hoping things would level out, but it ended on a sour note, and there's no resolving things with no Season 6. But, with where the writing went, I may have skipped another season of this show anyway. I never checked to see if the writers changed or if the show was being given notes from the network to be even more over-the-top so TNT could out-do other cable shows that went for shock value, but I really suspect that's what happened here and where the show went off the rails a bit.
All that stated, if you like the shock-value shlock stuffed into otherwise decent shows, you might still like this season. If I was going to recommend a cop show to someone, Southland would still be among the top shows on the list, easily. But I would really only recommend seasons 1-4 and tell someone not to ruin things with Season 5. I'm sure it had it's moments, but they really were not worth the less appealing parts, and Season 5 overall is not the way I want to remember the show.