Submitted by AJ Garcia on Friday, February 8, 2013 - 1:20PM
I’m pretty particular when it comes to what I watch on television, snobbish even. If a show has an actor or actress I don’t like I tend to stay away from whatever project their starring in. When it comes to Southland I just had to see the names Ben McKenzie (The O.C.) and Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill), who joins the show this season, and I knew I was out. Of course, as it’s my job to observe and report on these things I sat down with arms crossed and got ready to watch the first two episodes from the upcoming fifth season.
Right off the bat I couldn’t help but think of the 1996 cop show High Incident. Southland felt very familiar in that respect. As a viewer you follow the cops around (though High Incident took place in the fictional El Camino it was really shot in Los Angeles) as they answer 911 calls from domestic abuse to gang shootings and so on and so forth. In-between arrivals we get a glimpse at the opinions of the officers of the show, what’s going on in their lives, and a slow but progressive meshing of all these things as a character build up that contrasts with the way they behave while on the job.
The show manages to offer brief glimpses into the personal lives of the officers as well as their professional lives. At the end of the day, in a blink and you’ll miss it way, there is a core message that ties everything together in a kind of apathetic, that’s life, type of way. It’s here where I absolutely fell in love with this show.
Like the military, cops willingly sign up to stand in the face of all types of unexpected danger. Like most things people tend to forget, especially when it’s so easy to follow the usual behavior of disrespecting the police, that cops are just people too. Over the years the force has become an entity all its own due to bad publicity, mostly the only kind to be reported because it sells more papers, so people automatically assume all cops are bad. This show, like many before, and many more to come, tries to offer up a view of cops as individuals, simply flawed human beings that can be heroes or can be villains depending on how their treated by the people they protect and serve, and or the system they represent when their backs are to the wall.
There were times in these two episodes that I felt the writing did become a bit too lax. At one point one of the officers is chasing down a suspect and he comes into a narrow area where the suspect has disappeared into. With gun drawn he begins to move in. The tension of this scene was so surreal that I completely forgot I was even watching a show. I was so drawn in I found myself standing up with my hands flexed out before me. Then you have some other scenes where an officer or two come upon the consequences of their actions from earlier arrivals and it just felt too forced, making that allure of complete immersion disappear completely.
All together I enjoyed the show and will definitely start from season one and work my way up to this upcoming season. The acting is great, the stories are intriguing while mostly avoiding the written feel, and the chemistry between everyone involved on the show felt perfect to me. I highly suggest checking Southland out if you like cop drama’s. Enjoy.
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