I am a person that gravitates to the reality cop shows and tends to steer clear from the hour-long dramas. They often get too soap-operarish for me. I never gave Southland a chance until Season 4's 10-show run with Lucy. Each show begins with a freeze frame of a moment that is going to show up later in the episode, a monologue from a character ruminating on their emotions or thoughts during that exact moment. Then you're watching the morning meeting before everyone shoves off and hits the streets. You get that jumpstart to an episode like a cop has the start of a workday.
In-car camerawork, dashboard cams, and shoulder cams running around all help the action on the streets, I even get that Cops feel watching much of the time. It's gritty, it's violent, it's harsh. All different kinds of cops are represented, good, bad, naive, bitter, just like the range of people in any other occupation. Only the show focuses on how high the stakes are in the Southland.
And L.A. is often shown with the sun washing through the lens filter into everything. I love setting my TV to "Natural" Picture Mode ("Cinema" is too dark) and seeing that sun run through everything. It helps frame the uniqueness of the location, a sprawl set in a near tropical climate, a hot mess everyone's dealing with.
And did I mention, Lucy Liu as a policewoman?
New season of Southland begins on TNT Wed, 12 Feb 2013.
Photo Credit: Doug Hyun