On March 12, 2002, The Shield
burst onto the FX network like an incendiary grenade, and basic cable TV would never be the same. Creator Shawn Ryan's uncompromising police drama pushed the limits of basic-cable permissiveness, bridging the relative discretion of NYPD Blue
and the HBO liberties of The Wire
. Without exception, these 13 episodes justify their hype, focusing on pugnacious detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), whose amoral Strike Team employs dubious tactics in the crime-ridden (and fictional) Farmington district of Los Angeles. Mackey and his maverick partners are at odds with seasoned detectives and beat cops, escalating tensions with precinct Capt. Aceveda (Benito Martinez), a Latino with flexible scruples and a political agenda.
The series invites viewers to form their own judgments regarding Mackey's volatile behavior, which includes killing an undercover cop in the electrifying pilot episode. While each episode stands alone as groundbreaking drama, the arc of the series incorporates Aceveda's campaign to end Mackey's career; the self-loathing of a homosexual rookie (Michael Jace) whose partner (Catherine Dent) is Mackey's occasional mistress; a straight-laced detective (Jay Karnes) yearning for respect; Mackey's compassionate attempt to rehabilitate a crack whore (Jamie Brown, giving the season's finest guest performance); the autism of Mackey's young son and the recklessness of his closest partner (Walton Goggins); and the vigilant stoicism of Det. Wyms (CCH Pounder), who's as sensibly upright as Mackey is corrupted.
Teeming with gang-bangers, perverts, rapists, and killers, The Shield is unabashedly adult; even liberal viewers may flinch at plots involving child pornography and serial murder. Chiklis deservedly won an Emmy for maintaining the series' delicate morality; Mackey's a hero squirming in his own ethical quicksand. This daring edginess makes The Shield unique, and generous DVD supplements explore Ryan's creative impulse. Two featurettes offer behind-the-scenes overviews, while the all-episode commentaries allow extensive insight from every member of the series' principal cast and crew. Audition tapes prove that the cast was primed for ensemble excellence, and deleted scenes further demonstrate the series' challenging ambiguity. The Shield is excellent TV for those who can grasp its complexities; all others beware. --Jeff Shannon
The Road to Justice will blow you away! Detective Vic Mackey is the leader of an elite Strike Team unit, a group of cops effective at eliminating crime but also operating under Vic's own set of rules. But his rules sometimes cross the fine line between legal and illegal. Now the precinct has a new captain who doesn't like Vic's tactics and wants to bust him off the force-even as he finds himself going to Vic for help whenever the going gets rough. There's a reason this show is on cable. It "takes the grit and reality of a 'Homicide' or 'Sopranos' to a whole nother level" (Newsday). "The Shield" also made Emmy history by earning the most nominations ever for a basic cable drama series, with Michael Chiklis winning the coveted Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Now's your chance to experience all the action and excitement of television's most controversial show . . . from the beginning