Thursday, May 14, 2009

Southland - Westside


It doesn't matter what kind of f-ed up, crazy, depressing, terrifying or morose storyline the writers come up with, I have yet to watch a cop drama that doesn't end with me wanting to sign up for the police academy.

When I say "cop drama" I am speaking of the good ones like The Shield and The Wire (not those cliche-ridden piles of trash that use initials to describe their unit.) Where do you think that real, police officer allure comes from? It certainly isn't in the pleasantries. These police officers in Southland have major, major issues. They are addicted to pain pills, have affairs, fight with their spouses, can't get along with their kids and just generally make a mess of their personal lives.

But out on the street these guys and gals are doing something seemingly more important than any of us could ever dream. Imagine going to work each day with a civic purpose? Southland makes this purpose alluring because you can see how important it is to each officer and detective. Amidst all their fucked-up-edness they still go to work each day and solve robberies, track down killers, protect witnesses and put their lives on the line. This purpose comes before their family or personal obligations, but that almost seems okay.

Take Officer Cooper; he of the heavy painkiller addiction. He is basically a drug addict because of a work-related injury. He references his belief system as his moral and ethical guiding compass. I suspect when he takes drugs, he does it under the egotistical premise that the painkillers allow him to be a better cop; therefore, making drugs a good thing. The police force of Southland all work under the same delusional premise that their sacrifice is a means to a law enforcement end.

Hence the show's appeal. Imagine loving something so much you are willing to sacrifice everything else. The job must be awesome, right? (I mean at the very least you get a gun with a license to shoot).

One great highlight;

- The high speed chase at the end was among the best I have ever seen on television from both a dramatic and realistic sense. I felt like I was watching Cops, but I knew all of the police officers and had a little stake in their well-being. Those 3-4 minutes of television: listening to the helicopter radio-in locations while each character played his/ her role in the chase were about as good as it gets.

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