Cancellation, especially in the television industry, is often permanent. Although, I think that someone forgot to pass that along to the cast of Southland and their extremely determined executive producer, John Wells. Three days after NBC abruptly canceled the series, Wells was already in talks to move the show to another network while star Michael Cudlitz was telling NBC where to "stick it" via his Twitter. In the end, it took less than a month for the sophomore series to find a new home on TNT where, as we’re told, they know drama.
Ever since the show premiered last April, I have been of two minds because while the look and feel of the show almost instantly draws you in, I wasn’t a really a fan about it being an ensemble drama. Not that I have anything against ensembles, but Southland continuously had a problem with actually using the entire ensemble in every episode - Not anymore. With the second season, the ensemble cast has been nixed with the focus now being on Sherman (Ben McKenzie), Adams (Regina King) and their respective partners.
It has been over nine months since a new episode of Southland aired; will it be able to pick up where it left off so long ago and please all the fans that followed it to its new cable home? More importantly, will it be able to find new fans?
While there are so many police procedurals now on television, it wasn’t until the season premiere of Southland that I realized most of them don’t include actual police work. Instead, we get people with sunglasses and one-liners running around a high-tech lab being able to do things with images and videos that aren’t even possible. If you looked at all the shows currently on television, it would seem that it takes five crime scene techs and one detective to solve the crime.
Southland is a refreshing look at the real work police officers do everyday. After such an intense first season finale, they wasted no time kicking things into gear with the second season premiere. In the first few moments we’ve already got glimpses of gang riots and highway shootings. After being off the air for so long, it’s nice to see all the officers we’ve grown to love back together again – with a few new faces.
As a fan of Amaury Nolasco, I wish that in his temporary role as Adam’s partner he was playing an upbeat, likeable, sidekick like his former Prison Break character - rather than the know-it-all professional. Still, his character didn’t bother me as much as Brown’s new partner, Ferguson. I understand that with the nickname of “SLUG” (Slow Learner Under Guidance) that he wasn’t exactly the top officer, but having him eating in the patrol car, picking up his dry-cleaning, not wanting to use computers and shooting a kid in a car… it did seem a bit much. While I’m sure it’s plausible that he’s just that type of person, in terms of storytelling it felt like a bit of hand-holding in order to get to the big neighborhood riot scene.
When I originally saw previews of the riot, I knew that it was crazy, but after watching the entire scene I now know why people in the neighborhood didn’t know it was fake and joined in. For a show that prides itself on realistic portrayals, they sure pulled it off. What better way to film a riot scene in South Central, LA than to actually start a riot in South Central, LA?
(Interesting Fact: Ben McKenzie said in the live chat following the premiere that the real police had to pull a gun off someone in the neighborhood during the filming of that scene and that there were so many non-actors in the mix that when he was supposed to hit the stuntmen with his baton, someone from the neighborhood would always grab his hand to stop him.)
Overall, the premiere of Southland was an exciting ride from start to finish. Not only am I excited for next week’s episode, I’m waiting in anticipation for the return of Tom Everett Scott.
Southland is to police what Rescue Me is to firefighters. With a strong season premiere on a network that believes in it, the only thing that will stop it from being great is if the ratings aren’t enough for TNT to pick it up for a full season.
What did you think of the season premiere of Southland? Will TNT will pick it up for an entire season? Is NBC going to be kicking themselves for getting rid of such a great show?
Catch Southland @10PM on TNT
Congratulations to Kyle Smith of Long Beach CA for winning the complete first season of Southland on DVD!
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