January 5, 2011

"Southland" - Just as good, if not better.

"Southland" is back on TNT and they made some changes in the off season. And it's the best cop-opera on TV, and I don't mean in a "Cop Rock" kinda way.

Not all the changes are necessarily good (smaller cast, fewer eps.), but for the most part I really (REALLY) enjoyed last night's season three premiere. It was tense, witty, action-packed, and a good preview of what we're in for during the next nine episodes.

The show has been pared down from its previous large-scale ensemble, character developing, multi-storyline format, to a more streamlined version of itself. And I suspect, we will see more of the missing cast members as the season unfolds, since they are all still listed in the credits. The focus has been narrowly sharpened to showcase (my favorite show elements) Officers Ben Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie) & John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz), Detectives Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro), Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) and Lydia Adams (Regina King).

You can see where the large cast can become a problem as they had to juggle three stories (two murder investigations and a shoot-out/rescue) while keeping them compelling, keeping them on equal footing and giving them enough screen time to get the audience invested. But they do and did!

Yes their budget shrank and TNT only ordered ten episodes, but the writing is still sharp, the production values remain high and the actors are great. Hats off to Exec. Producer Christopher Chulack for maintaining these high standards (he directed the season premiere as well). Now the show could use a bigger audience to help keep it afloat for a fourth season.

Southland on TNT
Ken Tucker's TV on EW.com

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