Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Southland - I'm back on board


I wrote a couple of times already here and here about Southland and why I thought it was a show that could really go somewhere. The premise, the actors, the footage and the writing all had promise and were believable. I even had conversations at a party recently extolling the excellence in the show. So why haven't I been watching?

I watched the first two episodes and that had been it. While the logistical reasons at the time made sense, my lack of viewership had no excuse beyond laziness. Mrs. Channelup kept asking, "When are we going to watch Southland?" or "When are we going to catch up with this show?" I kept saying "soon," and then putting it off for another week. I would spend time on Thursdays writing about The Office and Parks and Recreation, lose interest in television and go to bed. Another Southland episode missed.

One thing I wrote about the show at the time was its real, gritty feel. The camera work reminded me of the documentary like- Friday Night Lights, the violence and language bordered on the edges of broadcast television acceptability, and the characters were very, very believable. In thinking about it though, I think the characters were what stopped me from coming back. They were so real, and nameless, that I felt no connection. Real life is kind of boring. I didn't tune in because, while I knew the show had so much to give, I didn't particularly care about any of the police officers.

Well tonight I got home from work, had an hour before American Idol and caught up on the third episode (they have aired 5 so far). Let's just say that I am back on board, will catch episodes four and five tonight and tomorrow, and am planning on covering the final two episodes of the season. The connection I was looking for came in episode three as we began to see more from Officers Cooper and Sherman. And while I still needed to look up these guy's names (remember I said about connection?) we began to see the human, flawed side of each. Man was this so important and I feel a bit stupid for jumping off the ride so soon. I didn't give the show enough of a chance and almost missed out. Sigh of relief.

I know this analysis is coming massively late, but watching the third episode just excited me. Southland has the chance to be a legitimately great television program. It is different than almost anything else on television right now because it seems more concerned with being believable than being intriguing or even artistic. But, and this is what many many programs do not get, believability triggers intrigue and art. Making something seem real is perhaps the most difficult thing a television can do. Making it interesting at the same time is nearing perfection. Southland has that mix.

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