on 10 July 2007
I recently moved house and was looking for something to entertain me whilst without tv coverage (long story). I have already quite a few tv series (including The Wire, Sopranos, 24, Firefly) and so was not too hopeful of finding something else as entertaining, thinking I'd already seen the good stuff.
I had read a lot of the reviews here, saying how great The Shield is, but I was under the impression that this was more of a CSI type show with one episode storylines, rather than a 'proper' series like The Wire, where the story advances through each episode. I am a big fan of The Wire by the way.
I was wrong to dismiss The Shield..
It is true that each episode deals with a different sub plot, eg a murder, but each episode also advances the overall story arc, and will go back to earlier stories and give further developments. Perhaps more importantly each episode also fleshes out the characters in the show.
In amongst all the action and gritty violence and dodgy dealings and stress and heroism that goes on in this cop show, you really start to learn about the characters, and care about them, to a degree that really surprised me. This is proper drama, with action. You won't get bored.....apart from perhaps in the first couple of episodes which seemed slow to me as they basically just set up the series.
Once it gets going, you won't want to stop watching. I have had a fair few late nights staying up..just to watch one more episode...and then another...
The end of the Series is great.
I am now into Series 2 and can attest to it being brilliant also, since I stayed up after midnight last night watching it!
on 9 October 2003
When I first read about the Shield, I figured that the idea of a more gritty, violent police drama that "pushed the boundaries" was simply a way to get more sex and violence on tv. It's not exactly a massive leap, is it? Therefore, I didn't really bother with the show until I caught the start of the season 1 finale and decided to give it a chance.
I wasn't disappointed. The big wad of 'previously on' at the start was a good sign that this wasn't a cop show which liked to wrap everything up in 60 minutes a la CSI. In fact, at times it seems to go out of its way not to wrap everything up.
Anyway, back to the DVD. It contains all 13 episodes of season 1, which is a very good season. I can't really highlight any 'key' episodes because they're all of pretty much the same quality, and almost all contain character development. Obviously because of the nature of the show Vic Mackey is the central character, gets the most time on screen and is probably concentrated on in articles and reviews, but him being a 'bad cop' isn't what makes this show good. What makes this show good is the writing - all the characters are deep and fairly complex. For instance, Vic Mackey isn't a 'bad cop'. He breaks the rules and he does bad things, but it is all wrought from the desire to do good (and make money on top of that). Which is why Mackey's battle with Captain David Aceveda is so interesting throughout season one. Vic Mackey is doing the wrong things for the right reasons, while David Aceveda is doing the right things for the wrong reasons. He doesn't want to nail Mackey because he believes Mackey is a bad cop and wants him off the street, he wants to nail Mackey because it will help his political career. I really find the moral undertones of the show interesting - it doesn't judge anybody, instead leaving the viewer to analyze the situation. Perhaps the best character of the bunch is 'Dutch', a homicide detective who yearns for the respect of others. He is a very cerebral detective, using psychology to catch and interrogate criminals. In an early episode, he picks up on an attack on a prostitute and tries to prove that the attack was part of a serial killer on the loose. Flash forward a couple of episodes and it turns out he was right. Stories and guest characters are frequently brought back throughout the season.
The boxset really is very impressive. While elsewhere people might just be content to stick the episodes on DVD with a few extras, The Shield includes a commentary on every episode and plenty of deleted scenes. The commentaries are fairly varied, ranging from humourous banter to more in-depth discussion. The Shield's creator, Shawn Ryan, commentates on most of the episode and is usually joined by at least three other members of the crew. It really seems as though they got anyone who ever worked on the show to do a commentary - one of the episodes is commentated on by the cameramen and director of filmography, while another is commentated on purely by the team of writers. The cast members also put in their fair share of commentary.
At the risk of sounding like some cop show addict (yes, my two favourite shows of the moment are both cop dramas), this comes highly reccommended if you're a fan of the show.
on 20 March 2004
I will not argue with the other reviews here. This is a 5 star product from beginning to end. Everyone who sees it seems to love it- but why?
The first and main reason is Michael Chiklis who plays the anti-hero cop (Vic Mackey) who stars in the show. Resembling a squatter Grant Mitchell, this cop is unlike anything you have seen before. As head of the local "strike force" he likes to "bust the ass" of any criminal who gets in his way. This is not always so that the public are safe (unless children or police are threatened at which point he becomes very upset), but mainly so that he can continue to get rid of crime his own way- that is by what could be described as managing the risk. He decides who deals the drugs, which prostitutes can ply their trade etc. Anyone who does not fit in with his management plan pays the price.
Drug dealers/ rappers involved in a turf war? Vic grabs them, locks them in a container and sees who kills who first (why get his own hands dirty?)Drug dealer not lying low when ordered to do so by Vic? He gets rid of them, authorizing a rival to deal on that patch instead-"I am your boss" he tells a dealer.The dealer does not argue.Internal affairs probe by an undercover cop? Vic simply shoots him in the head- no longer a problem.
Whilst he is a psychopathic man of 2 characters (the bad cop, but loving father), he is a real anti- hero. You actually want him to carry on being successful in his dirty deeds. The character surprises you and it is not until episode four that you see he is sometimes a real man of principle("Vic Mackay cannot be bought" he says when a rap star offers him a large lump sum) in his own, slightly deluded way.
It is rare that you want the bad guy to win so much,but you do here, which is testament to the writing and acting.
A classic moment- when pursuing a criminal along an alley, the criminal reaches a wooden fence and scrambles up over it. Vic does not bother- he runs straight through it! Nothing stops him when on a rampage.
Aside from Vic, all performances are top notch and the gritty storylines are brilliant. With all those hookers, dealers and gang bangers this is more Boys in the Hood than Hill Street Blues so be prepared.
The box set contains all season 1 episodes, commentary on each by the main cast and half a disc of extras which are great for fans.
Buy, Buy , Buy!
I bought season 1 of The Shield based purely on the rave reviews I read online. I'm so glad I gave it a chance as it is probably the best drama to ever come out of the US. The Shield is set in the crime ridden streets of Farmington, Los Angeles from the point of view of cops working out of a satellite police station called 'the barn'. The main character, Vic Mackey is the head of an anti-gang unit, The Strike Team. Vic and his teams corrupt, amoral behaviour is contrasted niceley by Dutch and Claudette, two experienced detectives who prefer to go by the book. The whole Barn is under the command of Captain David Aceveda who has his own political agenda to worry about.
The Shield really absorbs the viewer as Vic and his team murder, steal and broker drug deals as a means to try and remove the scumbags from the streets of Farmington. Although Vics actions are shocking you still find yourself rooting for him as he juggles supporting a family he loves with avoiding being taken down by Aceveda and trying to stay alive on the streets.
The Shield has strong scripts, good direction and great characters and you will not be dissapointed after paying less than £15 for so much entertainment.
Without doubt one of the finest cop shows to come out of the U.S.A.
I have seen every episode of the Shield and watched this series through twice and will watch again.
The premise of the Shield is very different, the main characters are bad, violent corrupt cops whose lives gradually fall apart
as the Police and F.B.I catch up with them.
There is a linear story line from the first episode to the last with diversions along the way.
The acting is brilliant, this show is very gritty and extremely brutal in places. However the violence is never gratuitous.
The whole series has a beginning, a middle and a very brilliant end, the final episode is one of the best final episodes i have ever seen to a series.
I won't include spoilers, this show is far too good for that, just buy every episode and enjoy.
You will not be disappointed but be aware, bad language and gruesome violence are quite graphic.
The Shield is in my all time top ten of all shows ever. Sensational.
on 24 April 2005
One word pretty much sums this show up, wow. It keeps you interested and gripped from the very first scene and takes you on a rollercoaster ride of both action and emotion from there. It was a very brave risk of the writers to take the kind of anti-heroes and make them into not only credable but very likeable characters yet it paid off, something which has not really beeen successfully pulled off since The Sopranos first appeared on our screens.
The commentaries on all 13 episodes give you a greater insight into the show and the minds of both the actors and the writers and creator. Another aspect of the show which I love is the ambivilence of it, meaning that it can work on so many levels and that you can view it as simply a cop show yet you can also view it as a way of showing the very fine line which many of us walk every day and how different people deal with it.
If you enjoyed the gritiness of films such as The French Connection then you will love The Shield. In short I greatly encourage you to buy this DVD set; as well as the following two seasons.
on 30 July 2003
This first season of The Shield picks up where other US cop shows quietly decline to go. While the show borrows from the Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue format, complete with hand-held cameras for a rougher, grittier feel, there's no mistaking The Shield's full-on testicular fortitude in showing our lead characters (The Farmington Strike Team) in scenes featuring racism, suspect torture and drug abuse. If, like me, you're a fan of US cop shows, noir thrillers or the novels of James Ellroy, then I'm sure you'll appreciate the realism of a programme which depicts the institutionalised violence and ethical grey areas which we all know to be an inherent part of modern policework.
Vic Mackey (the brilliant, Emmy award winner Michael Chiklis) is as rivetting a character as any of his contemporaries and turns in a hugely enjoyable performance in every episode. As the series progresses we slowly learn a little more about him and his methods, but again I was enthralled by a character so instantly unlikeable being placed at the moral foreground of a police drama. The result is an intelligent depiction of life in both LA and the LAPD, which carefully balances the action and drama while constantly challenging the viewers perceptions of what is and isn't acceptable when it comes to ends justifying means.
In short - a phenomenal first season, tapping into a common thread of disilussionment with heavy-handed police and forming a brilliant foundation for later series'. With luck, this one's going to run and run.
on 22 February 2005
The Shield is quite simply the best cop show I have ever seen. It is action packed, the characters have depth, it deals with countless different issues, there are great twists and shocks in each episode and amazingly amongst all this it also has humour. The main protagonist is Vic Mackey and because of his lack of integrity he is a man you know that you should hate but you cannot help but like. Sit back and enjoy the ride its great.
First shown in 2002, this is utterly brilliant TV that went on to become a cultural phenomenon studied on various TV and Film degree courses. The reason for the adulation is the complex moral ambiguity shown throughout the series - but what grips throughout is the sharp writing, the snappy dialogue, the interplay between series narrative and weekly stories and - most of all - the sheer charisma of the acting. At its heart is Chiklis' Vic Mackey with his swaggering violence and his lethal stare offset by his protective love for his family and his genuine tenderness for working girls and children.
The storylines are brutal and hard-hitting, but leavened every week by cynical cop humour and edgy bantering. Watching this makes every other police/thriller series look slow, dull and anodyne - it's a blast, but the very fact that we so often are complicit with the morally-compromised Vic is precisely what makes this so daringly unnerving.
on 16 July 2003
The Shield is one of the finest U.S. exports currently on British television and must certainly rank alongside programs such as The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, 24 and Oz. The show takes a very edgy approach, and normally sensitive matters are given the spotlight, with drug dealing, prostitution, police corruption and brutality along with domestic tragedy being the order of the day.
Viewing time is split between following Vic Mackay's strike team, Trainee Officer Julian Lowe and his handler Dani and Detectives CCH Pounder (cop show veteran) and Jay Kearns (in breakthrough role as Detective Wagenbach). Pretty standard stuff you would expect, until you realise Vic is a loose cannon willing to get the job done by any means, Lowe is a closet homosexual and Wagenbach is a neurotic 30 year old geek (for want of a better description) with serious self-esteem issues. Overlooking all of this is Capt. David Acevada, balancing his political career and professional duty.
The Program does raise moral questions, mainly in relation to Mackay’s methods of “Street Justice”, although I did find myself siding with his strong-arm and plain illegal methods at points. He is a flawed character, and faces pressure in both professional and home life, with his son being diagnosed with autism.
The show is well acted in all areas, with Chiklis putting in an Emmy-winning performance as Mackay(beating off Sutherland as Bauer!). Walton Goggins (as Shane Vendrel, Vic’s number two man) and Jay Kearns are unlikely triumphs and bigger things seem to beckon.
Each episode is excellently written and paced, with story lines that are not only interesting, but diverse, something rare in TV cop shows these days. The real highlights are episodes 1 – Pilot, 3 – The Spread, 5 –Blowback, 8 – Throw Away and 13 – Circles.
The DVD includes commentary on every episode, which shows the close relationships established between the actors, especially those on the strike team. A chance to see audition tapes is on the extras as well as a few short documentaries that aren’t really worth much. Deleted scenes show that the program was originally filmed in windscreen, although this is not offered as of present on the DVD. Picture quality is good throughout, and sound is decent, however in the way The Shield was made, neither of these are tested hugely.
This is an excellent debut season and season two continues the high standards set by it.