Top positive review
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Gritty and raw - expertly written and acted
on July 27, 2010
The seven seasons of The Shield tell the story of the Strike Team, a street smart but highly corrupt police squad working in a fictional district in Los Angeles called Farmington. It is based on the real life late 1990's CRASH team in the Rampart police division of LA, who used both sides of the law to their advantage, eventually resulting in over 70 officers being implicated of misconduct.
The team is composed of detectives Vic Mackey (Michael Chikliss), Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins), Curtis "Lem" Lemansky (Kenny Johnson) and Ronnie Gardocki (David Rees Snell). They operate out of a converted church known as "The Barn" with the rest of the force which includes detectives Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder) and Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach (Jay Karnes), and officers Danielle "Danny" Sofer (Catherine Dent) and Julian Lowe (Michael Jace). The captain of the division is David Aceveda (Benito Martinez), who's political ambitions see him climbing up the ladder to city councilman later in the series. This ensemble is joined by some stellar guests throughout the series, including Glenn Close, Forest Whitaker, Anthony Anderson, Francesco Quinn and Laurie Holden.
The pilot is nothing short of jaw dropping - and inserts you straight into the chaos from the outset. One may find it hard to take the side of Vic Mackey after viewing it - but after a few episodes you are drawn to his charisma and no holds barred bravado. Filmed in a documentary style reminiscent of front-of-the-line war correspondent footage, the camerawork is quick and fluid, and serves as a first person perspective on the action. The initial storyline is immediately compelling, and as lines in the sand between the characters keep shifting, allegiances that are tight one minute are gone the next. Mackey is an expert manipulator; the various story arcs see him pull off some amazing manoeuvring to keep him and his crew from having their numerous crimes unveiled only to lead to an overlooked detail that may derail their increasingly complex subterfuge. The last season is nail bitingly intense, and the conclusion has been hailed as one of the greatest in TV history.
Created by Shawn Ryan, the special features provide an in depth view of the creative machine that makes this such a unique series. One of the more interesting vignettes actually breaks down an entire eposide in terms of the writing process, bringing you into the writer's room and interviewing the creative team as they work the story from start to finish. The list of directors who helmed some of the episodes is incredible, including the likes of David Mamet (House of Games), Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption), DJ Caruso, Nick Gomez, John Badham and Guy Ferland. The pilot and final episode were both directed by Clark Johnson, with the entire series shot masterfully by cinematographer Rohn Schmidt.
See for yourself what all the fuss is about - once you start watching The Shield, it's hard to stop.