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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Police > TV > Southland – The Complete First Season (Uncensored/2009/Warner DVD Set)

Southland – The Complete First Season (Uncensored/2009/Warner DVD Set)

 

Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: B

 

 

After so many formula series involving police work, Southland is here and is easily the best Police Drama genre show since Homicide – Life In The Street!  Taking place in Southern California (Los Angeles and Hollywood in particular), this remarkable, excellent, top rate series deserves to be the next big thing, but it is already battling to find an audience because network TV does not know how to sell television anymore.  Now on the TNT Network, the show was cancelled by (you guessed it!) NBC!  Now, Warner has issued The Complete First Season on DVD and if we are lucky, it will find the same hit status as Big Bang Theory.

 

In the first episode, we meet Ben (Ben McKenzie, The O.C.) who does not look like your usual cop, with his almost model looks and not exactly coming across as the kind of gritty tough guy being a cop takes.  His senior partner John (Michael Cudlitz) can’t help making sarcastic comments and they are on their way.  The combination of great casting, acting, depth, realism, character development and fine overall writing is a throwback to the days of Levinson/Link and the glory days of network TV, plus it has the talent and energy to make it work.

Ann Biderman created this series and it is yet another ace in a career filled with underrated work, including screenplays for Copycat, Smilla’s Sense of Snow and Public Enemies, plus the mystery hit Primal Fear.  She is one of the best in the business and may have just created a television classic.  The only thing is that this season only has 6 hour-long episodes and needs time to grow, but that could and should happen.  She has an amazing behind-the-scenes crew (including J. Michael Muro (Roll Bounce, Crash, The Black Donnellys) and Dana Gonzales as Directors of Photography for the show) that gives it a new look and feel that works.  It is a triumph that all serious TV and drama fans should mark as essential viewing.

 

The cast is amazing and one of the best for any TV drama in a very long time, including Regina King, Tom Everett Scott, C. Thomas Howell, Kevin Alejandro, Arija Bareikis, Shawn Hatosy, Michael McGrady, Ally Walker and John Heard among others.  Of course, TV critics failed us once again and this show could have been cancelled outright, but here it is in an uncut version (think The Sopranos, where anything that might be censored increases the suspense, intensity and realism of each episode) and you have a great show that can only get better.

 

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is one of the best HD shoots we’ve seen to date anywhere (including a few hundred feature films and counting) and though the color is toned down, it is never obnoxious about it.  We get some motion blur, but it is minor.  We get a little shaky camera work, but it seems in context to the storyline.  These transfers are a bit soft, but still look good for the DVD format, but I can’t wait for the Blu-ray.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is also good, but audio is not always active to give the feel of location audio at times with some dropout.  The sound mix is smart, not showy and that further increases the impact of each show.  Hope the Blu-ray has lossless audio.

 

The only extra is a 15+ minutes featurette Southland: Redefining The Cop Drama.  It is very much worth seeing, but be sure to see all the episodes first.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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