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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


New Cop Show “Southland” Has Depth

“Southland,” which airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on TNT, takes place in none other than the gritty side of Los Angeles.

The show follows a slew of cops both in and out of uniform. While I’m sure many of you are familiar with the Jerry Bruckheimer empire which supplies the endless episodes of CSI, you will find “Southland”  a breath of fresh air and a seemingly real dose of reality that MTV can’t capture.

This show is anything but clean cut and straight forward. It’s a nice change from the typical cop shows where you only know two to four cops, the witnesses are used and excused without follow up and the culprit is always captured with too much ease. The transition into the ‘life of a cop’ is introduced to the viewer flawlessly, as you are introduced to fellow cops and procedures through the eyes of rookie Ben Sherman(Ben McKenzie).

The writers did a fantastic job of making the characters seem like they have brains of their own. The director and crew were extraordinary with lighting and camera angles, as well as sets, both on and off the sound stage. The finished product is flawlessly viable, utilizing real city streets buildings and houses.

You also have to hand it to the editors as you see just enough of everything, so that it is believable without an overwhelming amount of gore. Furthermore, it leaves you with impeccable transitions from scene to scene while leaving you with no questions asked, so you can focus on the actual characters and the reactions. You feel like you’re a casual observer of real life.

The story mainly focuses around rookie officer Ben Sherman ( Ben McKenzie),  whose father is a lawyer and his training officer/partner Officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) who builds a garden in his off time. Homicide Detective Lydia Adams ( Regina King) takes care of her mother when she’s not working. Homicide detective Russell Clark’s (Tom Everett Scott)  wife writes a blog called “I Love a Cop” and Detective Daniel “Sal” Salinger (Michael McGrady) makes a habit of spying on his daughter’s Facebook profile. Detective Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) is in the gang unit and served in Bosnia when he was 17. Officer Chickie Brown (Arija Bareikis) likes to surf in her free time. Last but not least, Detective Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy), is described on his online profile as “stoned through high school”

Even though the storyline encompasses at least a dozen characters, it’s not confusing to follow and is very well paced.

However, at times, the show’s storylines sidetracks too oddly into the cops personal lives. Sometimes it’s warranted to the solving of the current case, but  other times it seems irrelevant and distracting.

These irrelevant side stories shouldn’t last since the show is new and just establishing its characters and storylines.

The storylines of the show’s characters, both recurring and guest starring, aren’t as predictable as other shows in the same genre. This is a fresh take, making the crime take a back seat while the actors really act.

Additionally, the plot from episode to episode flows smoothly. Instead of changing every episode, “Southland”   carries them though and leaves the “alls well that ends well” mentality behind.

Despite having more depth then other procedural cop shows around, the ambiance wasn’t heavy and you begin to identify with the characters before the first episode is over.

The two actors who really stand out are Regina King and Ben McKenzie. King has a unique way of playing an authority figure who is sharp yet caring.

There is a certain vulnerability about all the characters, which makes them all the more intriguing, as you wonder what is really going on in that person’s head.

Ben McKenzie is absolutely fantastic. It is a far cry from “The O.C,” but this is the best work I have ever seen him in. There are a few parts in the first episode where there is a close up on him, and you forget that he’s only an actor.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this show picks up some awards and neither will you, if you remember to tune in Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

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