Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 555 mins .
MA15+ . PAL
Every now and then there seems to be a cop show that springs up offering something different and new. It happened years ago with Hill Street Blues and then later with NYPD Blue. The Shield is another to follow this trend and although it has similarities to its illustrious predecessors, it offers a new and graphic view of the police. Based in the crime riddled streets of Los Angeles where drug dealers and gangs rule the streets, The Shield takes the unusual angle of showing cops from both perspectives – good and bad.
"I’m a different kind of cop!"
The series is based around several characters and ongoing storylines. Here is a brief breakdown of each main character.
Vic Mackie (Michael Chiklis) - The leader of the strike team, Vic has some questionable tactics for getting results and is forever pushing the boundaries of right and wrong. He is the sort of character that you dislike one minute and love the next. Rules are meant to be broken and he does so in a way that would make most cringe. The standard good cop/bad cop scenario doesn’t fit Vic, he is a different kind of cop altogether.
David Aceveda (Benito Martinez) – The captain in charge of The Barn, this Hispanic leader has political ambitions and is also determined to bring down Vic, believing him to be a dirty cop but lacking the proof. The constant clashes between the two characters are a driving force of the series and the dispute about who is actually in charge is a gripping storyline.
Holland ‘Dutch’ Wagenbach (Jay Karnes) – Dutch is a detective with aspirations of solving long standing crimes, such as finding serial killers. He doesn’t use the standard techniques of his fellow detectives and seems to be the laughing stock but, whether his style is right or not, he still gets results.
Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder) – Claudette is partnered with Dutch and is a veteran cop. She has a very likeable demeanour and works well with Dutch to get some impressive results. The part was originally written for a male detective but you would never know, CCH Pounder does a great job in this role.
Danielle ‘Dani’ Sofer (Catherine Dent) – Patrol Cop Dani is close to making sergeant. She is partnered up with rookie Julien and is hugely popular within the precinct. Dutch is keen to date her and there is obvious history between her and Vic.
Julien Lowe (Michael Jace) – The rookie cop who is spiritual and has a clear definition of right and wrong, but also struggles with internal issues. He wants to be a good cop but questions the tactics used by his fellow officers.
Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins) – A member of the strike team, Shane is a hothead who gets himself into many sticky situations, needing Vic and the other members of the strike team to bail him out. He is a loyal member of the team though and deep down is a terrific cop.
Curtis ‘Lemonhead’ Lemansky (Kenny Johnson) – Another member of the strike team, this wannabe surfie is Mr Cool as well as a hothead at times. Also prone to getting in sticky situations, he is another great cop and loyal member of the team.
Ronnie Gardocki (David Rees Snell) – The final member of the strike team, Ronnie is the quiet one who is only a minor character in this series.
There are several main characters in this series, but it is Detective Vic Mackie and Captain David Aceveda that dominate. Vic is the lovable character that you sometimes despise and David is the character that you generally despise and yet sometimes like, a nice balance that is enthralling. The other characters are not just there to support these leading two, as they all have their own major airtime, but it is Vic and David that dominate. The most refreshing thing about The Shield is that the characters are all flawed, just like real people - who’d have thought? This concept adds greatly to the realism and with the superb filming, done in a way using standard cameras along with handhelds to give a documentary feel, the viewer is quickly consumed and taken on a realistic ride with realistic cops.
Contained on this four-disc set are 13 episodes, each with a running time of approximately 45 minutes. Being an ongoing drama with plot lines that can last for the entire series, it is difficult to give an episode-by-episode synopsis, so the following is a brief outline of the entire series, attempting to not give anything away. Episodes contained are as follows;
Pay in Pain
Cupid & Psycho
Two Days of Blood
The episode names don’t give away too much so it’s so far so good. As is the case with many pilot episodes and even second episodes, the aim is to establish the main characters early. The Shield does that but also introduces some terrific ongoing storylines. The gangs and drug dealers run the streets of LA and it is the job of the police to clean it all up. Vic has an unusual way of doing things, he has the right intention but his methods are sometimes questionable. He allows one drug dealer to keep operating while shutting down the competition. This may seem a strange way to keep the streets under control, but Vic’s tactics seem to work. There are standard police cases that need investigation and these are all intriguing, but it is the ongoing storylines that keep the viewer enraptured.
Some of the squad.
Captain Aceveda is continually striving to bring down Vic and the strike team. His political aspirations are a driving force, but he also believes in truth and justice. On the other hand, keeping the streets clean drives Vic. He uses everything in his power, be that legal or otherwise, to enforce his will on those that dare to commit crime in his district. Both Vic and David are terrific leaders in their own ways, but the thought of working together for a common goal is out of the question.
Other ongoing storylines involving the other main characters are also intriguing. Female patrol cop Dani is continually trying to get to know her rookie partner better while he is dealing with his own internal issues. Along with trying to deal with these issues he is trying to be a good cop, at the same time he unwittingly becomes the witness to a serious crime. The partnership of Dutch and Claudette is another fascinating pairing. They seem to be complete opposites and yet they work perfectly as a team. Lastly, there is the strike team. Shane, Lemonhead and Ronnie are Vic’s devoted team, but at times also his worst nightmare. They are quick to follow orders, but every now and then they drift off and do something stupid, needing Vic to come to the rescue. These continual catastrophes are both amusing and amazing.
Vic and Lemonhead talk to a suspect.
To have a good cop show you need good criminals and apart from the ones that actually wear police badges, the criminals in this series are perfectly suited. While viewers are struggling whether to cheer or jeer for the cops, the criminals sometimes also warrant this same thought.
The acting in this series is first rate from generally unknown actors. There are a few recognisable faces, but the majority are unknown to Australian audiences. This is not only with the main characters either; the actors playing criminals and other supporting cast are also superb. Beautifully scripted, filmed and edited, this is a series that is well worth seeing. It is in your face and never shies away from issues. If you love quality police drama with a hard edge then this series is for you. Highly recommended.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and 16:9 enhanced for widescreen viewers, this transfer is not flawless, but generally looks terrific. Considering the type of filmmaking used for this show, image is surprisingly sharp throughout with excellent detail levels. Colours are well saturated and grain is only occasionally spotted in some darker scenes. There are instances of glare from lighting when filmed on location, but this is not the fault of the transfer and I would suggest it is also intentional. Aliasing is practically non-existent and the layer changes on these dual layer discs are located between episodes so as to cause no distraction whatsoever. Subtitles are supplied in a choice of English, Dutch and English for the hearing impaired and these are extremely accurate.
Audio is supplied in a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track and overall it is pretty good. Dialogue is clear throughout and the supporting music is also clear and well delivered. Directional effect is used well across the front sound stage and the rears are used sparingly for music ambience and to build important scenes.
This set is quite loaded with extras by television series standards and there are some decent ones too.
Not many series' have audio commentaries and if they do it is only on selected episodes. For this series, we get commentaries on every episode, quite a bonus indeed. Contributors to these commentaries at various times are actors Michael Chiklis, Walton Goggins, Benito Martnez, CCH Pounder, Catherine Dent, Kenny Johnson, Michael Jace, Cathy Cablin Ryan, Jay Karnes, writer and creator Shawn Ryan, directors Clark Johnson, DJ Caruso, Guy Ferland, producers Scott Brazil, Dean White, James Manos Jr, writers Glen Mazzara, Kevin Arkadie, Kurt Sutter, Scott Rosenbaum, director of photography Rohn Schmidt, camera operator Bill Gierhart and music director Evyen Klean. All are very informative and amusing and for diehard fans that don’t mind sitting through the entire series a second time, they are a worthy addition.
Season One Epilogue
Running for a mere 23 seconds, this humorous epilogue is presented by creator Shawn Ryan and lead actor Michael Chiklis.
Presented in the same aspect ratio as the main feature, this collection of 17 deleted scenes is introduced by Shawn Ryan who explains why they were removed from the final cut. Scenes included are entitled Danny & Julien, Dutch Checks on Dr. Grady, Julien’s Blowjob, At the Funeral, Vic Takes a Raincheck, David and Desk Sergeant Nathan, Dutch Finds the Body, Vic & Claudette in the Kitchen, Shockley Congratulates Julien, The Porta-Politics (Parts 1 & 2), Julien and Thomas’ Job Application, Dutch Comes to Kim’s Rescue, Lemonhead and Tigre Lovers’ Quarrell, Claudette Suggests New Material, Melissa Cries to Claudette, Lightbulbs and Vic’s Breakdown.
This featurette contains cast auditions with actors Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Walton Goggins, Michael Jace, Kenneth Johnson, Jay Karnes, Benito Martinez and CCH Pounder. This is a great addition for fans to see the audition process.
Behind The Shield
Running for 21:25, this featurette is a nice inclusion that takes the viewer behind the scenes and includes interviews with Michael Chiklis, Jay Karnes, CCH Pounder, Catherine Dent and Michael Jace.
This featurette runs for only 2:27 and although many may think it is a featurette on the special effects used in the show, it isn’t. It is purely a promo for the network on the show from its producers.
Put simply, this is a terrific cop show that is so original and different from so much of the crap currently on television that it demands attention. It is not completely flawless, but the refreshing thing is that neither are the characters. Video and audio are both of the highest quality and a nice collection of extras make this well worth purchasing for fans or at least renting for those interested in this genre.