The Shield: Season 2 (2003)
Genre: Crime Drama Series
Starring: Michael Chiklis ("The Commish"; Fantastic Four), CCH Pounder (End Of Days; Sliver)
Created By: Shawn Ryan (Writer / Producer of "Angel")
Overview: In a precinct in a rough L.A. neighbourhood, we follow the lives of those who work there, from the corrupt cops to the straight and narrow. Season 2 focusses on the strike team's risky new opportunities, and the Captain's shot at City Council, not to mention the auditor watching the precinct's every move.
Acting: It looks unrehearsed, as though we were seeing the employees of a real precinct. Even Dutch and his scripted little 'power-intimidations' and profiling predictions show a character who is generally insecure but relishes in the moment when he's top dog. Every character has this kind of undercurrent, a real self under what we're shown, and for a cast that all took police training, and a lead who buffed out and learned to speak Spanish, you know these people are doing all they can to keep doing a realistic job.
Cinematography: I read a review from someone who said that the constant shaky-cam and the gritty 'out of focus' approach made him ill and it was overdone. I disagree. Remember "Law and Order", "Homocide: Life On The Street", and all those other cop shows that are all about the inner city? They all use the same shooting method, and ever from time to time have an artistic pan or special effect. This enhances the mood, even if it imitates what's come before.
Script: Ebonics, technical lingo, power-plays and internal political struggles on the one side, interpersonal home-life struggles and professional machinations on the other, we have people who not only act completely different in their method, but a script that accurately depicts it too. CCH Pounder, the black woman who plays one of the detectives, was originally scripted as a man. When she got the part she insisted that they not twaek the writing, as she wanted to be that hard, tough, no-nonsense kind of character too. Really immersive.
Plot: You might think this is all about the gang-focussed strike team lead by Chiklis, but they are just one part of it. The stories and characters also include two uniform cops (one of which is a rookie), two detectives with slightly different crimes to investigate, as well as the plots of the independent auditor and the captain. Some episodes have overlap between all the cops, sometimes it's more about personal life. Point being, with so many options, they'll have stories galore for years to come.
Mood: For the strike team: intense police work far too far on the other side of the allowable with a fat portion of corruption, but just for a little while... at least that's the plan. For the detectives: a realistic approach to investigative work, sometimes solving a case after a couple good hours, sometimes failing completely. For the beat cops and everyone else, dealing with the streets and the situations that arise, be they personal conflict and drama or professional accusations and complaints. This show takes a raw approach to the life of a police station, without all the flag-waving and heroism. It feels honest, perhaps at times even too honest.
Overall Rating: 84% (Tear Down Your Defences!)
Aftertaste: In this day and age we tend not to believe people who are all gung-ho about pride and heroism, especially in a group of people who see the underbelly of society day in, day out. This is a great show, and knowing that it's in its fifth season makes me glad that I'm not comitting to something that's just going to get cancelled just as I'm getting to know it. If you've ever seen Denis Leary's "The Job", this is comparable, except that this is not a comedy.
Damn, there's another series that got cancelled before its time.