Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Coming To Terms - Why The Shield Makes All Other Shows Look Bad

[This is part 3 of a 3-part series. Go here for part 2 on the sopranos and here for part 1 on 24.]

This is a LONG overdue post about Season 6 of the Shield. But hey, I had to show some love to my favorite show on TV (other than maybe the Wire).

Awhile back, I read Heather Havrilesky's fantastic write-up of the finale of "The Shield." She puts it ever-so-eloquently, as usual, when she writes:

If "The Wire" is a symphony and "The Sopranos" is a haunting blues refrain, then "The Shield" is a gangsta rap with a beat so infectious it makes you get up and dance in spite of its filthy lyrics. Surveying Mackey's shiny, bald head and his merciless grimace, we don't know why we love the bastard. All we know is that when he asks, "Are you ready for this?" the answer is unquestionably, "Hell yes!"
I've been watching "The Shield" since its debut season on F/X, when Michael Chiklis revitalized his career with his breakout performance as supercop Vic Mackey. Since then, the show has explored a wide range of issues relating to the police force, from unnecessary brutality to homosexuality; from intra-office romance to planting evidence. And every single week, those crimes...those horrific, terrible, worse-than-your nightmare crimes that Claudette and Dutch would solve, not to mention the gang wars that Vic would mediate. There was the sadomasochistic couple that cut off an innocent girl's arm (while she was alive). The mouth-raping Hispanic gangster that would eventually get a skull-full of iron in prison. And the child-molesting rapist father. The audacity of those crimes allows you to experience vicarious excitement when their perpetrators are brought to justice. And boy, is it ever satisfying.

Here's the thing: I thought Season 5 was amazing. Forrest Whitaker should have taken home an Emmy for his performance; instead he got an Oscar for "Last King of Scotland." Fair trade, I guess.

But Season 6, remarkably, was even better. How they did this, I don't know. But "The Shield" is a show that seems to have mastered the art of storytelling, in its own little way. Plotlines are in the process of being expertly tied up, and Shawn Ryan (the show's creator), seems to have complete control over what's happening (unlike on a show like, say, "Lost" or even "24"). Character development that's been in place for years has finally paid off; the tender kiss between Dutch and Danny serves as a shining example of capitalizing on the groundwork the show has already established going back to season 1(!).

And week to week, always...the crimes continue. Somebody has to stop them. But it's okay. I know a guy:

[WARNING: The video (link here) is VERY Graphic]

No comments: