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“Southland: The Complete First Season”-(Uncensored)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre:
TV-Series
Release Date:
1/26/10
Special Features:

Featurette “Southland: Redefining the Cop Drama”, extended episodes

Review:

The explosion of basic cable TV series has been a boon for TV shows that failed to find their initial audience with the major networks. 20 years ago it would have been unlikely that a show like “Southland” would have been picked up (although it wasn’t unheard of)by another major network. With the often troubling plots of “Southland” I doubt it would have been a serious candidate for one of the majors luckily we have TNT, A&E and the SyFy channel which have picked up TV shows that didn’t pull in big numbers on the networks but appealed to the cable channels core demographics when it came to advertisement. ***

In “Southland” we see life on the street for police officers through the eyes of rookie Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie of “The O.C.”) as he is trained by the older, wiser and jaded officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz from “A River Runs Through It”). In many respects, “Southland” is a more honest, open and grittier modern version of “Adam 12” (which had essentially the same premise) minus much of the Hollywood glitz that often marred Jack Webb’s TV shows. The other characters on the show from Detective Russell Clark (the excellent and underrated Tom Everett Scott), Detective Salinger (Micahe McGrady) , patrol officer “Chickie” Brown (Arija Bareikis) and Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King) give us a more diverse cross selection and view of the workings/lives of L.A.’s finest as they struggle to maintain their sense of normalcy, sanity, their place in the world as they face the increasingly vicious violence on the streets. ***

Well written, directed and acted “Southland” was one of the best shows without a gimmick last year (which is probably why it got less “buzz” than, say, “Flash Forrward”) to appear on a major network. Unfortunately, it got lost in shuffling time slots or was thrown up against juggernauts that that rolled right over the series in the ratings. Competing against in a shrinking market of viewers “Southland” literally appeared to go south for the winter. ***

The good news is that the folks at TNT recognized that the show had a solid core audience (i.e., a demographic that appealed to them) but also had a terrific premise that they could integrate into their other original programming. That means that “Southland” got a shot at a sophomore season and a chance to really shine. ---

Image & Sound:

“Southland” looks extremely good with a nice colorful transfer. Detail remains extremely good throughout the series and while there are occasional soft shots I suspect those were intentional for one reason or another. The presentation looks terrific over all with just some minor issues such as video noise that crop up now and again. ***

The 5.1 audio sounds great with dialogue front and center and nice use of the surround speakers particularly during crowd scenes or action sequences. ---

Special Features:

“Southland: Redefining the Cop Drama” is the single extra provided here and it’s quite good. It gives us a sense of what the producers/creators were trying to do in this update of a more traditional police procedural and try and integrate personal lives once again into the structure without making it become a soap opera. ***

I should also note that we get “uncensored” episodes which it appears means that these run longer than the original network episodes AND they have material that is a bit more graphic that might have been cut to appease censors or due to time constraints. ---

Final Words:

“Southland” is the type of series that you need to give a chance to and nurture. Clearly NBC couldn’t do that for the show which is tragic; luckily TNT stepped in, renewed the show and is giving the show the chance to find the audience it deserves as well as thrive as a drama. Recommended.

 

 
 
 
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