Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Television Police Drama and the Return of Southland

Southland premiers on TNT, Tuesday, January 12 at 10:00PM.

Pictured right are Ben McKenzie as rookie Officer Ben Sherman (foreground) and Michael Cudlitz as Officer John Cooper.

I've always enjoyed police dramas on television. In the early days it was Dragnet and Adam 12.

In 1981 my fondness turned to love -- Hill Street Blues premiered. It had uniforms and detectives, male, female, black and white police, and a large, and talented cast. It blended personal and professional aspects of the character's lives. Dennis Franz of NYPD Blues fame had two roles on Hill Street Blues. The pilot episode won an Edgar for Best Teleplay and it remains watchable today.

Following Hill Street Blues there wasn't much that interested me until NYPD Blue (1993-2005) followed by Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-1999, The Shield (2002-2008), and The Wire (2002-2008), The Closer (2008-). These shows are in my top ten favorite television dramas and enjoyable in their own right but they didn't give me what Hill Street Blues did, an ensemble cast that featured uniforms and detectives.

Then Southland premiered on NBC. It might have been a little derivative (the two main uniforms reminded of Malloy and Reed in Adam 12) but I instantly liked the characters and the story lines that started developing. It was set in the LA of The Closer and The Shield and had a rawness that appealed to me. And then NBC dropped it after seven episodes.

I was elated when I heard that TNT picked it up and would continue the series. TNT also gives us The Closer (crossover opportunity?) so they now have a lock on my loyalty. Wikipedia says that TNT will de-emphasize the ensemble cast and concentrate of the veteran uniform officer Ben Sherman and black detective Lydia Adams. I have mixed feelings about this but the Sherman and Adams characters were two of the strongest on the NBC run so I am optimistic. Also, he synopsis of the TNT pilot looks like it won't disappoint me.

If you have access to TNT and enjoy police dramas, please watch so TNT will be encouraged and keep it going.