This week on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday, Tiffany and I review some more cop drama with Breakout Kings and Southland.
Now, we’ve been down the this road before. For as long as I can remember, there have been police procedurals on our TV screens. But it’s been a while since I’ve watched anything like this.
Southland originally appeared on NBC, but was moved to an earlier timeslot (from 10 to 9) where it was too dark for audiences. NBC dropped the show, but TNT snatched up the remaining episodes already ordered for season 2, added a third season, then took their time coming out with the fourth season. What makes this show too dark for NBC?
Southland is a drama following cops on the streets of LA, both in the wealthy and not-so-wealthy neighborhoods. The season 4 opener sums up the tone of the show well:
“Cops wake up every morning different from the rest of us. Our worst nightmare is just their Wednesday.”
Now, while this may sound like it is setting you up for an over the top, barely believable show, it is interesting that quite a few of the stories, particularly some of the more horrific, are pulled from real cases, not merely the writers’ imaginations.
The creators don’t pull any punches in their depictions of life as a cop in LA. Some scenes will make you squirm. Some will leave you with a lump in your throat and a knot in your stomach. This is not the show to watch when you are trying to unwind. If you are the type to get attached to the characters, remember, bad things happen. The writers of this show don’t spare characters for being “the good guys”.
This isn’t to say the show isn’t good. As a matter of fact, the show is very well done. Not every call or case is horrific. Some are pretty mundane, even humorous, which only adds to the real feel of the show.
It’s hard to discuss plot or storyline in a show that is really about the lives of LAPD officers without giving anything away. So I won’t. Some characters have personal problems that complicate their lives as cops, or at least contribute to the type of officer they have become. While their lives are part of the story, they aren’t the focus, particularly in the latest season. You’ll just have to watch to get to know more.
The acting is excellent. It’s an ensemble cast, so I won’t list every member, but watch for standouts like Michael Cudlitz and Regina King. Fans of the OC will be excited to watch Ben McKenzie in a role that shows that he’s got some acting chops beyond his teenage heartthrob days.
In addition to solid acting and writing, even the filming of this show is a factor in making it work. The use of steadicam, in addition to other brilliant cinematography choices I won’t spoil, make the show seem that much more real.
Having said all of the above, this show is not for everyone. Realism and moving to TNT at a 10P time slot meant the ability to censor less language and show more “grit”. Be warned, definitely not something to watch with your kids, and may not be the right show for even some adults.
Southland is definitely deserving of a GTV, however, some may choose to pass on this dish. Like a live squid or beef carpaccio, this show is raw and perhaps an acquired taste. Proceed at your own risk.
Are you watching Southland? What do you think? Has the show had you on the edge of your seat or on the verge of tears?
Come back next week when Tiffany and I review two of Fox’s new dramas: Alcatraz and The Finder.
Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.
A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:
GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech