Thursday, April 16, 2009

Southland - A precinct without names

Do I get Southland? Yes. Am I impressed with the amount of story the writers have taken on? Yes. Do I enjoy the characters? Yes. Do I like the show? I think so.

Recapping or summing up this show would be tedious, boring and nearly impossible as the show's manic nature jumps from character to character and story to story with alarming speed. Even when they keep with the same plot line the scene changes happen frequently. I like this because the show does not get boring, but alternately makes the action difficult to follow.

Additionally, the characters all seem deep, troubled and real. But I don't know any of their names. Is that a bad thing? I am not sure especially considering Southland appears as much a documentary as it does a drama. The shaky screen and odd camera angles give it a real feel. Having the cops act more like law enforcement and less like scripted characters contribute to this effect. Giving the officers real problems like punk kids, affairs and crazy exes without stressing "who they are" makes me feel like I am watching a real precinct and not a network drama. This is no small feat. Makes it near impossible to talk about the show with others, but easily relatable.

Benjamin McKenzie plays the part of the wide-eyed rookie cop with decent results. His time on the force has probably been overly interesting in the name of drama, but I like the undertones of his well-to-do upbringing. Sort of a rich kid just wants to be one of the guys idea. He pulls it off.

That being said, the show is not without its faults. I find Michael Cuditz's character, Officer John Cooper (I had to look his name up), to be unbearable. I haven't determined if his sanctimonious, fortune cookie sage advice is a goal of the writers to make him kind of douchy but it does. And I don't like it. I don't find his character believable in any way.

Mrs. Channelup and I discussed the use of bleeping curse words in the dialogue. Is it better to have the curses censored or just use fairly accurate dialogue without the potty mouth? I would tend toward the latter because I find the bleeping distracting. I'm no prude. I curse as much as the next guy. But every time they do it I get distracted and think for a second about what word was censored without concentrating on the rest of the conversation. For that reason alone I could do without it.

I will continue to watch Southland because it shows promise. The acting is well above grade and the action moves swiftly. This show is just different enough to move to great things. Let's hope it gets there.

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