Southland: The Complete First Season (2009) - Uncensored

Genre(s): Crime / Drama
Warner Brothers || NR - 300 minutes - $29.98 || January 26, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-01-23


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Ann Biderman (created by)
Cast: Kevin Alejandro, Arija Bareikis, Michael Cudlitz, Shawn Hatosy, Regina King, Michael McGrady, Ben McKenzie, Tom Everett Scott


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Featurette


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

I’m not much for cop dramas. Other than maybe “Law & Order: Criminal Minds”, they pretty much bore me with melodramatic storylines (the original "L&O" is often guilty of this). However, after hearing some great things about “Southland”, I decided to finally give it a shot on DVD, and to my surprise this is without a doubt one of the best cop dramas I’ve seen in a long, long time.

“Southland” follows members of the LAPD in various divisions. Detectives Moretta (KEVIN ALEJANDRO) and Bryant (SHAWN HATOSY) investigate gang-related crimes; Detectives Adams (REGINA KING) and Clarke (TOM EVERITT SCOTT) take on general crimes including robberies and homicides; and Officers Brown (ARIJA BAREIKIS), Cooper (MICHAEL CUDLITZ) and rookie Ben Sherman (BEN MCKENZIE). The series premiere focuses primarily on Sherman on his first day while also establishing the show’s main characters.

The first season, which only comprises of 7 episodes, takes on different cases from an infant found crawling in the middle of the street and the search for his mother; the discovery of a woman’s corpse in an alley being used as a target by some kids and trying to find out her identity and killer; and the detectives work on the QT for their boss’ gun which was stolen after a car crash amongst other cases plus a glimpse at each of their personal lives. Also, the season finale, which was close to being a series finale if TNT hadn’t taken it over (season two apparently begins in March), gets a shocking and inconclusive end.

I can say without a doubt that “Southland”, even in its shortened season, is absolutely fantastic. As I said, normally I don’t get into cop dramas as they tend to either annoy me or contain stories and characters I couldn’t care less about. But with this show, you have 3-dimensional characters without making their personal lives a focal point and rather integrate that episode’s case with the personal sides. Then you have the crimes which are each unique and sometimes crossover from one character group (detectives and officers) to another.

The performances are all good across the board. Ben McKenzie’s transition from the teen angst of “The OC” is great while Regina King perfectly delivers the personal drama that her character brings with each case. The other cast doesn’t stand out quite as notably since each have to share the stage, but I can only imagine what these actors could accomplish from season two and (hopefully) beyond.

If you have cable you no doubt have TNT so I wouldn’t hesitate catching up on the rest of the first season before season two begins on March 3, 2010. Note, this is as of January 23. I know I definitely will be either tuning in or DVR-ing it as it is one of the most compelling cop dramas on television.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Southland: Redefining the Cop Drama (18:26) – The solo feature takes a behind-the-scenes look at the cast and crew of this genre. This is fairly basic where you get comments from various members of the crew talking about how this is different from other dramas and isn’t a procedural.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

“Southland” is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio and although throughout the season the show has some pixilation especially during some of the darker scenes, this is one of the more impressive TV on DVD transfers I’ve seen.

The Dolby Digital 5.1, while not overly impressive, is still effective. The opening theme (Canção do Mar (Song of the Sea)) sounds a tad dull but once the show begins, the dialogue is clear enough. Now, some of the audio effects like gunfire or squealing tires don’t have much depth to them, so it’s a bit of a wash overall.



.::OVERALL::.

“Southland” is easily the best new series I have seen in quite a while. Although I still enjoy the occasional procedural show like “CSI” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”, this is one cop drama that I can get behind and watch week to week. I also think that if TNT continues to give it a chance as they have, it could turn into a classic series like “Homicide: Life on the Streets”. Yes, it is that good.