by pat howard

REVIEW | ‘Southland’: now in protective custody on TNT

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Like the oppressive air on a muggy summer night, Southland returns to television tomorrow at 10p/9c on its newfound cable home, TNT. An extended cut of the pilot will air commercial-free.

Looking back at that first episode, it’s amazing this show ever saw the light of day at NBC. It’s a much better fit for a cable network that has quietly cultivated a reputation for quality drama since its rebranding half a decade ago.

Beginning tomorrow, TNT will encore the seven-episode first season of Southland. Six additional episodes, produced before NBC pulled the plug last fall, will air beginning in March.

These flawed, complex characters are the stuff cable is made of. TNT’s stable of series is adept at mood, and Southland‘s is one of world-weary optimism in the face of crushing desperation. Our police officers are expected to do the impossible, and they come back for more every day. It’s an achievement for a series to authentically command respect for its protagonists’ occupation.

Regina King, Benjamin McKenzie, and Michael Cudlitz lead a solid ensemble, each illuminating the personal and professional crossroads these characters navigate daily in life-and-death jobs. This call is a gang shooting; the next could be a nuisance call about chicken nuggets, and the one after that, who knows.

The guest cast is also stellar. Lupe Ontiveros is understatedly threatening as the leader of a drug ring, and Carla Jeffery (see clip below) shines as a teenage witness who aspires to walk the beat.

I’m looking forward to new episodes in March. Whether the story continues past that 13th installment remains up in the air, much like the fate of each member of the force every time they put on the badge.

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  1. New Southland Episodes beginning March 2
    Watch the preview here

    Join Southland Facebook for the latest on the show.

    http://www.facebook.com/southland#!/southland?v=wall

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