Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Shield Review

I never watched The Shield when it aired originally. In fact, I only decided to check it out after I saw it in some Top 10 list of the best TV shows ever. Now that I watched every single episode from the seven years long show all I have to say is one word, but I'm going to say it a bunch of times.

Wow, wow,  wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.

There. I hope you didn't actually read every wow individually. That would be sort of stupid.

It's an ultra-realistic gritty TV cop show. After watching it it's very hard to watch the sterile, lobotomised CSI-style stuff flooding prime-time nowadays. Mind you, I watch most of that lobotomised nonsense as guilty pleasure, but it's still a guilty pleasure. Contemplating suicide type of guilt.

I don't want to spoil anything. Try getting hold of the first series or at least catch the first episode. It will give you a very good idea of what you are getting into. The shock ending of the first episode is one of the greatest OH MY GOD moments in TV and sets the ton of the show from then on. Vic Mackey is one of the most complex and multi-layered characters you are ever going to see on American TV. You'll love him, you'll hate him and most likely you'll love to hate him. Vic and his team will keep getting into more and more trouble and you'll wonder not only if they'll manage to get out of trouble, but also if they deserve to. 

One big issue I have with the series is the treatment of the only gay character in the show, Julien Lowe. The first couple of seasons deal with his struggle with his homosexuality, but later on the storyline is dropped altogether. It was odd considering Julien was still around for the remainder of the seven years run. The character had practically no other storylines and from one of the more interesting characters on the show, a conservative black man struggling with his homosexuality, Julien turned into a glorified extra with a few lines. They didn't take the character in any real direction and simply neutered him. Could've just as well kill him off.

Michael Jace as Julien Lowe
I hoped for Julien's gay storyline to be resolved, especially as it was obvious that the whole series was coming to a close. It's not as if the writers had some plans for the character they never got around to because the show was cancelled too soon. From the ending of series 5 it was obvious that the show was heading towards its inevitable conclusion. 

There was a tiny blink-and-you-miss-it visual reference to the storyline in the last episode, but considering the neglect the storyline received over the years  it wasn't a nod to fans of the storyline as much as a spit in the eye. I am perfectly happy with a TV show not resolving every single plot line. It was a realistic show and real life is random and often without closure. But the fact that Julien's entire personal life was buried and never revisited for over four years indicates that the writers treated it as a no-go area.

Regardless, I would still recommend the show to anyone who hasn't seen it yet. One of the best ensemble casts ever to come together in a TV show (I want to marry CCH Pounder). The impressive cast is further bolstered with long term heavy weight guest stars Glenn Close and Forest Whitaker.

Six Feet Under used to be my favourite TV show of all times. It hasn't been knocked off the top yet, but it's now sharing the spot with The Shield.



Mark said...

Mickey, I will take your advice and put this on our list of shows to Netflix. Now here is my problem. I read half of your review but am afraid to read the other half for fear that you'll give away the end of the series. Will you? m.

Mickey said...

I criticise the handling of a storyline involving the only gay character in the cast, but I'm notactually spoiling any details from any of the storylines. I think.

Mark said...

Okay, since you visited me, I felt it safe that you read my last comment.
Thanks for not spoiling the end for me. I will ask Fred and hopefully, he agrees. I can't watch shows by myself anymore. It's no fun without Fred and I constantly talking through each episode. I'll just pre-warn Fred about the non-existent story line.
Loved Six Feet Under! I stopped watching Brothers and Sisters the other day. Season 5 is sucking big time and I couldn't go on. Fred watches it during the day while he's suppose to be working.
gotta run! m.

Mickey said...

We gave up on Brothers and Sisters in series 4. It was just to soapy and formulaic. Great acting, shit writing.

The gay storyline is there, but at some point it just goes POOF and you kinda expect it to come back, but it doesn't. Still, a great TV show.

Mark Himes said...

Fred said it had a great ending but who cares. I'll have Fred get The Shield tonight.