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Before | After

Day 2 of 30 Days of TV

The editor in me wants to change
Day 02 - A show you wish more people were watching
to "you wished more people watched". Sigh. Wimpy passive words get me every time.

Anyhoo. I had a hard time with this one as well (I think all of them will be hard, except the miniseries) because I couldn't decide between Fringe and Southland. Neither of which, of course, is airing right now, in June! But I decided on Southland because wow, does this need more love. It's not a perfect show by any stretch, and I think that's one thing that keeps people away from it.

Problems, first: There are some characters in the series who are really quite detestable. And like a lot of shows with sprawling ensemble casts, some episodes may feature them quite a bit, and some episodes, they may be absent for a lot. If you tune in to one where Tammy (the absolute worst of the lot), Sammy (married to Tammy), Sal, Lydia's partner (whose name I can't ever remember), or Dewey are featured prominently (as they all are in the premiere episode), there's a chance you'll back away from the show. Some people also dislike my spiritual fiance, Kevin Alejandro, as Nate, because Nate is partnered with Sammy, and sometimes he's good and sometimes he's a dumbass. But I adore him, so... take that as you will. I think Kevin is hot like burning (see icon) and Nate is just as fucked up as the rest of them, which makes him interesting.

Southland reminds me of two gritty cop shows I loved in their time: Hill Street Blues and the first season of Boomtown. The stories follow detectives, administrators, and street cops, so we see the vast wilderness of policing in south Los Angeles. It has one of the most kickass women on television, Regina King's Lydia Adams, who is so awesome that I want to marry her and have her babies, and I don't ever want to have babies. It also has a canonically gay cop, who is one of the major characters, in John Cooper (played by Michael Cudlitz), who is the training officer for rookie Ben Sherman (played by Ben MacKenzie of OC fame), who is sort of the quasi-central character at the center of the show.

Stories are never ever wrapped up neatly at the end of the episode, and people rarely confess to a crime so the guest stars can have quality acting time. In other words, it's not a cheesefest like all the shows with initials in their titles or pretty much any other cop/detective show on TV.

The thing I love about the show is that it offers a true picture of policing in modern day cities, and they get the details right for the most part -- and when people aren't competent, you see the consequences. The system lets the cops down all the time, the cops often let themselves down, and it's not always an easy show to watch. No, it's not The Wire-quality, but I think that in its new home on TNT, which just renewed it, and took it from stupid NBC after they canceled it, the show will probably only increase in quality as it gets nurtured by a network that's not afraid of it.

I've seen commercials for a new show this summer called Rookie Blue or something like that, and it looks so unbelievably cheesy and crappy and focusing on the exact opposite of everything Ben has learned from John on the job, and I would almost bet it'll be a hit while Southland soldiers on with lower ratings, showing us what these cops' lives are like on the job and off, realistically, and with humanity and insight.

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Comments

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gwyn_r
Jun. 2nd, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
Southland is truly awesome -- I'm so glad you liked it! We're not exactly legion, but I think that it will just keep growing as more episodes come out and people can see the quality.
spasticat
Jun. 1st, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Stories are never ever wrapped up neatly at the end of the episode

More shows need to go this route. The networks, the folks with the money, though, lack the confidence in respecting the viewer's ability to handle this. And, egads yes, that Rookie Blue show looks abysmal!
gwyn_r
Jun. 2nd, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
I know. It's getting to a point where I just can't watch stuff I used to enjoy because of this. There's always that scene at the end in the interrogation room where the perp admits everything and confesses his/her dastardly plan. Or else they get shot in a big denouement. It has to stop.
black_bird_777
Jun. 2nd, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
I agree, especially about Lydia, John Cooper, and Ben. But I have to add that Sammy, who has been regularly irritating, had an amazing, heartbreaking scene toward the end of this season that was beautifully done.
gwyn_r
Jun. 2nd, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that scene where he breaks down when he realizes that kid killed someone is heartbreaking. And I wish he had more stuff like that, because the rest of the time he's saddled with that fucking stupid bitch Tammy and those scenes are just... the utter pits.
barkley
Jun. 3rd, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)
Yes to all of this!
devilpiglet
Jun. 8th, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
I think I may have already mentioned that Southland OWNS MY SOUL. What I love about it, in no particular order:

1) The character of John Cooper. John Wayne-with-a-twist, and Michael Cudlitz inhabits him fearlessly.

2) The fact that they film on location, almost guerrilla-style, because (like Hill Street Blues!) it's an absolutely necessary component to the show's grittiness and its own unique feel. And L.A. really does look like that - the shitty apartment buildings with their white-painted grillwork, and the skeevy falafel stands, and just all of it.

3) Although the cops are portrayed as tough and jaded and seen-it-all, scenes like the one with Sammy and Casper - or John and Ben, during and after the funeral - prevent the show from becoming too infatuated with its cynicism.

There are moments I wish the writing was tighter - I think there are some continuity issues that could have been easily avoided - and I'm bummed that it won't be back 'til January. But all in all, it's a standout. I'm so glad that in this AS IN SO MUCH ELSE, we are psychic twins.
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