The Shield: Season 3 (2004)
Starring: Michael Chiklis ("The Commish", Fantastic Four), Walton Goggins (The World's Fastest Indian, Chrystal)
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 3 plays politics while delegating leadership to Detective Claudette Wyms and adding a new Decoy Team. The Strike Team is still hip-deep in Armenian Mob problems, and the captain faces is own demons and the hands of a criminal.
Acting: To be honest, when evaluating television, one has to be more forgiving, understanding that if these were TRULY brilliant actors then they would have film roles. While watching this season however, I could not cease to be amazed as the character development of each and every main character was taken to a new high, and even those who were merely in a one or two-episode supporting role were outstanding. When strangers are catalysts to events that will permanently alter the lives of our characters, isn't it even MORE necessary that they be properly cast? Turns out. No compromise necessary. This is perfect television.
Cinematography: I read someone's comment that they were distracted by the way the camera panned too quickly. They added that it was too grainy to see properly, the shooting style had too much of a 'rough feel' to it, to the point of nausea. To them, I say get a bigger television and take some Gravol, because the show's success has a lot to thank with the camerawork's intensity. Not only are the locations perfectly bleak from the interrogation room to the crack-house, but with the occasional dynamic angles and the always up-close action, this cinematography is the perfect medium for this series.
Script: Aside from the everyday typically interesting and heavy-handed dialogue, there are three big speeches that I remember intensely. One has Chiklis sticking a gun in a prostitute's mouth as he talks to her like a pimp, using psychological tactics in order to save her life, another has a serial killer taking to Dutch about the 'why I kill', focussing on the moment of death. The speech that the captain gives a young punk who interferes with him is the scale tipper though. The writing is consistently deep and always well thought-out.
Plot: The stories this season sit less on a 'departmental eye on the station' as it was last season, and puts us deep in far more personal threats. The characters develop better than they ever have, and strife around the office has never been so in your face. Poor Chicklis... if it isn't one thing, it's another.
Mood: I can't turn this show off. In fact it's debilitating how I look at my watch, considering all the things I have to do in a day and think, "Ah, just one more episode!" The no-holds-barred attitude dealing with controversial topics, be it simple things like the Strike team barging in on oral sex, or more serious topics like cop-on-cop violence and the slow seeping taint of corruption, no show comes close to keeping my adrenaline level up constantly. Add an occasional montage perfectly synched with music, and you know this is better than film, because it lasts far longer.
Overall Rating: 90% (You Can't Stop It)
Aftertaste: I tried. I really tried to stop and think twice about rating this show so highly, but it's no wonder that I got through this season so quickly. It's the best one yet, and I'm trying to pace myself and wait a little before watching Season 4, because I know I'll just end up sequestering myself away for the duration. Why does everyone sneer when I tell them about this? It's fantastic, give it a chance!