Adam C. (i12bnmovie) from SAINT LOUIS, MO Reviewed on 3/10/2010...
This is the way every show should start. The story of Vic Mackey and his Strike Team starts with a bang and carries through this entire season. As an ad once stated, this is law enforcement's answer to Tony Soprano. A must watch for any crime loving viewer.
One of the Only Shows on TV Worth Watching!
Monkdude | Hampton, Virginia | 02/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this show! I first got into it after reading some of the reviews posted here on these Season One dvds, so I thought I would give it a try and I purchased this complete season. I am truly glad that I did. I was hooked from the first episode to the last and I am now watching Season 2 on FX. What makes this show far better than all the other cop shows is that the production value is more in line with HBO or a movie than a cable television show. The acting is extremely good as are the scripts and dialogue. Even though Vic and his team are labeled "dirty" cops you can't help but root for them in the end. Michael Chiklis deserved his Golden Globe award for best actor, he takes on this role as if Vic Mackey was himself in a former life. I was also glad this show won the award for best drama series on TV. If you haven't seen the show yet and are unsure if you would like it, give it a try. It's a bit brutal and graphic, but by the time you finish the final episode, "Circles," you will be speechless, praying to catch repeats of Season 2."
The best cop-drama series on TV bar none
A. Sandoc | San Pablo, California United States | 02/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shawn Ryan's raw, gritty and excellent The Shield on the FX Channel gives the well-worn cop-drama genre a lethal dose of adrenaline. The Shield is not your dad's old type of cop show. Where shows like Law and Order (and its many spin-offs) shows cops at their honorable best, Ryan's series shows that there are also tragically flawed men who wear police blues.
The Shield and its main character Vic Mackey (excellently played by Michael Chiklis) shows the dark, seedy underbelly of police work in a multi-ethnic district of Los Angeles. The show uses the real-life, scandal of the LAPD's RAMPART Division and runs with it. Instead of South Central, the show primarily uses the fictional LA district of Farmington as their base of operation. It is an area rife with gang activity, violence and drug-dealing. There's also the racial divisions between the Latino and black communities always in danger of bursting into open violence. Through all this lies Vic Mackey and his RAMPART-like Strike Team. Right from the pilot episode we see that Vic and his men are the true power in Farmington as they try to hold the peace between rival gangs and drug dealers. The Strike Team's intentions are noble, but they've also become so much a part of the problem that they do not see their amoral and corrupt tactics as anything bad. They see things in their district on the verge of anarchy and decided that the only way to save it is to use any means necessary.
The Shield pushes the boundaries of basic-cable shows and teeters right over the edge. All the episodes are well-written with stories and topics seemingly ripped from the headlines. The first season runs the gamut from police corruption, child pornography, rapes, murders, gang violence and cop-killing. These stories are not doen with the aim of titillation and gratuitous violence and sex just for its sake. Ryan and company create the stories to show that all the news of downtrodden neighborhoods and Wild West-styled policing are all too real and can be ignored. The ensemble cast surrounding Michael Chiklis also needs to be commended for keeping the gritty and realistic tone of the show from ever becoming over-the-top and sensationalist. Stand-out performances by Walter Goggins as Vic's reckless, racist partner in the team and that of CCH Pounder as the mirror opposite of Vic just shows that all the accolades heaped upon this show has been well-deserved and well-earned.
I can't say enough about The Shield to convey how excellent a show it is. The show doesn't pull its punches in dealing with its characters and its controversial topics. Instead Shawn Ryan and his actors infuses the show with realistic grit and uncompromised storytelling. A new series usually grows on me overtime as the early episodes tries to find the show's personality, but the pilot and its shocking cop-killing by a major character hooked me from the start and I have been a loyal devotee of Vic and his Strike Team. The Shield and Vic Mackey have become the Dirty Harry of the new millenium."
Mercilessly unflinching L.A. police drama!!
John S. Harris | Memphis, TN | 12/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Thank God for cable TV! "The Shield" is the most intense new cop series in a decade. The action centers around an proto-experimental police precinct in South Central L.A. The action is violent and intense and pulls no punches. Series lead Michael Chiklis stars as Vic Mackey, leader of an elite squad within the precinct. Mackey is corrupt, amoral, but a great and effective cop. Even when you want to hate him you can't help but root for him. The precinct house's new Lieutenant makes no secret about wanting to bust Mackey as part of his political aspirations, but Mackey isn't going down without a fight. And he certainly has the fight in him.The final scene in the first episode set the tone for what kind of cop Mackey can be. But throughout the whole first season viewers are treated to a level of grittiness and action rarely seen on television. Always intense!One particularly satisfying story arc in the first season centers around one of the precinct's new detectives trying to catch what he thinks might be a serial killer. He eventually gets his man, and some unexpected respect from his fellow officers, but the psychological price he pays is what will resonate long after the case file is closed. And "The Shield"'s visual style (namely the art direction and use of color) is unlike any other cop show you've seen before. That sounds kind of odd if you haven't already seen the show, but it gives the show a distinctive look to go with its already distinctive sound and feel.Watching this show gives me the same charge I got from watching the first season of "N.Y.P.D. Blue" -- the David Caruso season.
That whole first season is also available from Fox TV on DVD in early 2003. Too bad the "...Blue" box set won't also contain the first four episodes from Season 2, the episodes that wrapped up David Caruso's character story line through his exit from the show.**** Easy instructions for watching "The Shield - Season One" on DVD:
Point, click, buy, watch, enjoy, pick jaw up off floor."
Like an elephant to the head (4.5 stars)
Wheelchair Assassin | The Great Concavity | 01/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Since I've never been a cop, I can't really vouch for how realistic its portrayal of urban police work is, but there's no denying that the first season of The Shield makes for some mighty compelling drama. The Shield was a target for controversy from the very beginning, drawing all kinds of free publicity from TV journalists fascinated by the fact that the show contained such words as "s--t" and "balls," but those willing to look deeper were greeted with a fierce, intelligent drama that upped the ante on decades of TV cop fare. Granted, The Shield was hardly the first police drama on TV, nor was it the first to reflect a more modern sensibility on the part of its creators--both Homicide: Life on the Street (which I watched) and NYPD Blue (which I didn't) were known for their gritty, realistic depictions of police work and occasional use of naughty words. That said, if you thought five years ago that there was nothing left for a cop drama to say, you would've been wrong: whatever the first season of The Shield lacked in originality it more than made up for in complexity and sheer intensity. This first season barrels through thirteen episodes at lightning speed, throwing so much at you that it's virtually impossible to get bored. Below all the action and cliffhanger finales, though, The Shield manages to overcome cop-show cliches and make itself a worthy watch because its writers blend intricate plotting with multi-dimensional characterizations and a healthy dose of moral ambiguity. Much as FX's other great dramas, Rescue Me and Over There, de-romanticize the lives of firefighters and soldiers, respectively, The Shield presents a portrait of cops as deeply compromised people trying to do a tough job under incredibly trying circumstances.
Naturally, no characters on the show are more clearly compromised than the always-compelling Vic Mackey and his Strike Team, who are almost impossible not to watch as they steal, beat, make deals with drug pushers, and generally abuse their power. At first I thought the creators of the show were daring viewers not to like Mackey, but then I came to a more counterintuitive conclusion: Shawn Ryan and co. are daring us to *like* Mackey, to approve of his methods and the results they produce in spite of his blatant corruption and disrespect for procedure. All this intentional ambiguity surrounding Mackey and his men actually goes to what I think is the other main thrust of the show, namely that moral rectitude and effectiveness as a police officer may not go hand in hand. The show may take place in the fictional Farmington district of LA, but its setting could be a stand-in for pretty much any inner city where racial division and fears of crime run rampant (or, to put it another way, pretty much any inner city). When they're presented against this context, it's easy to view cops like Mackey as a necessary evil at worst.
Anyway, while Mackey and his behavior seemed to get The Shield a disproportionate amount of its considerable press, it's still hard not to notice what how many great characters there are overall here. For all of Michael Chiklis's sound and fury as Mackey, my favorite this first season was actually Det. Holland "Dutch" Waggenbach, played in career-making fashion by Jay Karnes. Dutch is the quintessential misfit (especially in a police station), the socially awkward guy who can't take a joke and internalizes everything, and winds up getting perceived as a glory hog because he just wants to be respected for his own abilities. I have no idea why, but some small part of me can relate to a shy, overanalytical type who wants to be liked but who doesn't fit in well with his peers. Benito Martinez is probably the most memorable after that as Captain Acevada, who in his own way is just as morally gray as Mackey, at times almost to the point of being amoral. Much as Dutch typifies the well-intentioned misfit, Acevada typifies the ambitious social climber, the guy you can't really trust because he almost always has a self-interested ulterior motive, namely pacifying the Hispanic lobby and advancing his own political career.
Like with so many other of the best shows on TV these days, The Shield is able to pull off its nuanced characterizations so well because its writers prove to be experts at developing them over time, as well as balancing single-episode plots with longer, more complex arcs that extend over several episodes. Without giving away too much, there are numerous key strands that hold the season together even as smaller plots come and go: Vic's struggles to keep a lid on his collaboration with a local drug dealer; Dutch's search for a serial killer; Assistant Chief Gilroy's various perfidies; Aceveda's political maneuverings; and of course Julien Lowe's struggles with being a gay black religious rookie cop, which are handled a lot more delicately than you might expect from such a show. The last few episodes are especially addictive, moving at even-faster-than-usual speed and expertly ratcheting up dramatic tension as they bring a bunch of plots to a head until I JUST COULDN'T STOP WATCHING!!!!!!!!!! DAMN YOU CREATORS OF THE SHIELD WHY DO YOU MAKE YOUR SHOW SO DIFFICULT TO STOP WATCHING!!!!
Oh, sorry, don't know what got into me there. Guess that's just what watching The Shield does to me. Well, now that I've calmed down, I guess I'll just state dryly that I consider The Shield to be about as addictive as heroin, and easily one of the best new TV shows I've picked up in the past five years. Yeah, that sounds about right.
T. Koegel | Chicago-ish, Ill | 03/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From the first scene, you know this isn't going to be your regular TV cop drama. Hard hitting, combat style filming, harsh street dialog make The Shield the best show out there. If you watch the first season, you will be hooked into the whole series. DVD quality is great and rewatching the episodes with commentary by the director and actors really gives insight as to the vision they all had. A must see!"