Southland: The Complete First Season
From John Wells, the Emmy®-winning producer of ER and The West Wing, comes SOUTHLAND – a raw and authentic look into a Los Angeles police unit. From the beaches of Malibu to the streets of East L.A., this fast-moving drama takes viewers inside the lives of cops, criminals, victims and their families. John Cooper (Band of Brothers' Michael Cudlitz) is a seasoned Los Angeles cop assigned to train young rookie Ben Sherman (The O.C.'s Ben McKenzie). And although Cooper's harsh, tell-it-like-it-is approach often leaves Ben questioning whether he has what it takes to be a cop, he remains on the force. The outstanding ensemble cast also features Ray's Regina King as Detective Lydia Adams, ER's Tom Everett Scott as her partner Russell Clarke, Crossing Jordan's Arija Bareikis as patrol officer and wannabe SWAT team member Chickie Brown, and Day Break's Michael McGrady as Daniel 'Sal' Salinger who oversees fellow gang detectives Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) and Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy).
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