TNT strikes gold again with Southland
, a worthy addition to a lineup of cop dramas that already boasts such superior fare as Saving Grace
and The Closer
. While this show (offered here on two discs with all seven episodes from its first season) may not accomplish its producers' goal of "redefining" the genre, they have certainly succeeded in creating an alternative to procedurals like CSI
and Law & Order
by focusing less on the details of the crimes being investigated than on the professional and personal lives of those doing that work, specifically the uniformed officers who patrol the streets of Los Angeles and the plainclothes detectives dealing with murders, kidnappings, and other major offenses. Each episode features multiple story lines; most are well done, but those involving the "uniforms" tend to be more compelling. For them, every day is like "driving through the sewer in a glass-bottom boat," as one puts it, as they encounter everything from car theft and domestic disputes to rotting corpses and the usual array of junkies and prostitutes. A variety of cops are featured--C. Thomas Howell is good as the off-the-hinges Billy Dewey, but most involving is the relationship between Ben Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie), a rookie fresh out of the academy, and his partner John Copper (Michael Cudlitz), a more seasoned officer who gives the younger man (who also happens to be a rich kid from Beverly Hills) heavy doses of grief until the sharpshooting Sherman earns his respect. Most episodes are gritty and fairly graphic, the uncensored versions featuring the liberal use of F-bombs and other profanity. The writing, much of it by creator Ann Biderman, is excellent, with juicy dialogue, well-developed plots (like an ongoing story involving the detectives' efforts to protect a young girl who witnessed a murder), plenty of black humor, and characters you can care about. A making-of featurette is the sole bonus feature. --Sam Graham
From Emmy Award winners John Wells, Ann Biderman and Chris Chulack comes a raw and authentic look at the police unit in Los Angeles. From the beaches of Malibu to the streets of East LA, "Southland" is a fast-moving drama that will take you inside the lives of cops, criminals, victims and their families.
Michael Cudlitz ("A River Runs Through It") plays John Cooper a seasoned Los Angeles cop, assigned to train young rookie Ben Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie, "The O.C."). Cooper's honest, no-nonsense approach to the job leaves Sherman questioning whether or not he has what it takes to become a police officer. Cudlitz and McKenzie are joined by cast members Regina King ("Ray," "Jerry Maguire") who plays Detective Lydia Adams. Adams lives with and is the primary caregiver of her mother. Her partner, Detective Russell Clarke (Tom Everett Scott, "Boiler Room") is an unhappily married father of three. Michael McGrady ("The Thin Red Line") plays Detective Daniel "Sal" Salinger. Sal oversees fellow gang detectives Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro, "Drive," "Ugly Betty") and Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy, "Alpha Dog"). Arija Bareikis ("Crossing Jordan") plays patrol officer Chickie Brown, a single mom who dreams of being the first woman accepted into SWAT.
Watch Southland Tuesdays at 10/9c on TNT. New season begins March 2.