SouthLAnd

I watch a lot of television.

No, really. Maybe you think I’m joking. The fact is, I want to write television so I watch a lot of it. A lot a lot. Like, imagine how much television you watch and probably double or triple that.

So when I tell you that TNT’s SouthLAnd is the best show on the air right now, you will understand that I, watching as much tv as I watch, must be making a statement that commands attention.

Yes, Justified is great. And Game of Thrones. And Mad Men. But none of them have what Southland has (gonna discontinue the weird capitalization for the purposes of readability) — but before I make my case for Southland over all of these great, great shows, a little backstory.

I am not a “Day One” Southland viewer.  When it first premiered on NBC, I expected, like most others did that it would just be another by the numbers cop show.  Of course, every few years one cop show comes along that blows out all of the others — Boomtown, The Shield, NYPD Blue… and the ratings on NBC reflected that the audience didn’t show up, but it wasn’t because it was a ‘by the numbers’ cop show.  It’s because it wasn’t.

TNT saw that.  John Wells is the executive producer (not showrunner though) and he knows a thing or two about delivering quality shows, and Southland was a quality show.  In a rare move, TNT picked up the dead show and revived it.  Already it was defying the odds by being good, but now it was even more rare that it was given a second chance to thrive.

I didn’t discover the show until its 3rd season, 2 years ago.  I was reviewing for Seat42F and I was asked if I’d like to interview Michael Cudlitz and Ben McKenzie for the site and review the season premiere.  Naturally I said yes, but that required binging on the first two seasons of the show to get up to speed.  Fortunately, because the NBC season was cut short and the first TNT season was also short, I only had to watch about 13 episodes.  I blew through them, one after another, compelled by this gripping drama, that dared to bleep out profanity, as if we were watching COPS on Fox rather than sugarcoat the dialog.  The stories were about the cops and the crimes were secondary, until it tied directly to character development.  It was engrossing, engaging, and I couldn’t get enough.

I interviewed Michael Cudlitz, who plays Officer John Cooper on the show, and was even more impressed.  This guy has bounced around a lot, but this was the first time I took notice.  His character, a veteran cop put in the position of training “boots,” new recruits who just happened to be gay AND have some lingering health issues was just a ball of complexity.  I found Cudlitz himself (It’s hard not to get in the habit of calling him that, since it is his twitter identity) to be smart, funny and really insightful about his character and the show.  Most of all, he was so grateful for the chance to play this character, to have the second life of this show on TNT, to be doing great work with great people.  If you’ve not followed him on Twitter or Facebook, where he is very present, he’s a one man cheering section for the show, and fans respond.  I tweeted him thanks after our interview and he responded in kind AND followed me.  It was the first time I was thrilled to have an actor acknowledge my existence.

Okay, I may have a bit of a crush.

So that was my introduction to Southland, binging on the first two seasons in preparation for the third, watching that screener of their third season premiere, and then promptly setting my DVR to record the show every week.  One of the best show decisions I’ve ever made.

A few shows have managed the trick of keeping a constant level of quality for the duration of their run.  Even fewer have actually managed to GET BETTER as they age.  As we learn about the people who populate the world of the show, it’s hard not to get invested.  When a major character died in a previous season, it was a huge shock, and not in a ‘Walking Dead’ kind of way — we’d grown with these characters, cared about them, and we don’t want to see them make mistakes or get hurt.

But the best characters are the ones who do make mistakes.  I don’t know how the LAPD feels about Southland. By a mile the show is more a testament to their hard work and dedication to the job than anything else, but there are those times when the reality of life as a police officer seeps through the cracks — that reality is what makes the show amazing.  The raw honesty.  The flaws.  In those moments we see beyond their uniforms and see them as human beings.  They aren’t eloquent or erudite.  They don’t always have the perfect resonant thing to say, and that’s okay.  We get the point without anything being said, most of the time.

So this is my plea.  I’m not sure the show will get another season.  Already actors from the show are signing up for pilots, because the ratings for Southland have been lackluster this year.  But next Wednesday night is what could be the series finale.  Watch it.  You don’t need to have watched all five seasons of the show to enjoy what I promise will be a riveting hour of television in your life.  This week was so intense I left fingernail imprints in my palm as I watched.  I rarely get engaged with a show to a degree that manifests in physical reaction from me!

I hope that in the next few years people will discover this gem of a show, just as they’ve discovered Arrested Development, Firefly and others which were gone too soon.  You might think 5 seasons of Southland should be enough, but their 5 seasons is only 46 episodes.  I want more.  I probably won’t get more, and I’ll have to cope with that.

In the meantime, I am going to savor this last moment with the cast and crew.  Ann Biderman, the creator and showrunner is a new idol of mine.  The writers are demi gods.  I bow to their ingenuity in turning stories you’ve seen a dozen times on their ear and then again on their other ear.  But for once, I will give even more credit to the actors — Cudlitz, McKenzie, Shawn Hatosy, Regina King, C. Thomas Howell and the rest — you’ve done great work and made a fan out of me.

Posted under analysis, reviews, tv news

This post was written by Shawna on April 11, 2013

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Fall TV Season – 2010

I gave up doing the watch list, because there are now like a billion TV blogs who do this coverage better than I do.

That doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest in the numbers, the new shows, the cancellations…

So far the Cancellation Grim Reaper has claimed 2 scalps:

LONE STAR (FOX)
MY GENERATION (ABC)

Ratings are low enough that the following shows may be in danger:

OUTLAW (NBC)
THE WHOLE TRUTH (ABC)
DETROIT 1-8-7 (ABC)
LIFE UNEXPECTED (CW)
MEDIUM (CBS)

You’ll notice the last two shows on that list are returning shows.  Unfortunately their ratings indicate this may be their last rodeo.

Posted under tv news, watch list

This post was written by Shawna on October 4, 2010

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NBC 2010-11 fall schedule

From their press release. 

*New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET

MONDAY

8-9 p.m. –  “Chuck”                     

9-10 p.m. —  “THE EVENT”       

10-11 p.m. –  “CHASE”      

TUESDAY

8-10 p.m. – “The Biggest Loser”

10-11 p.m. – “Parenthood”  

WEDNESDAY

8-9 p.m. – “UNDERCOVERS”

9-10 p.m. – “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”               

10-11 p.m. – “LAW & ORDER: LOS ANGELES”  

THURSDAY

8- 8:30 p.m. – “Community”              

8:30-9 p.m. – “30 Rock”

9-9:30 p.m. –  “The Office”    

9:30-10 p.m. –  “OUTSOURCED”     

10-11 p.m. –   “LOVE BITES”      

FRIDAY

8-9 p.m. – “Who Do You Think You Are?”/”SCHOOL PRIDE”    

9-10 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”            

10-11 p.m. – “OUTLAW”  

SATURDAY

Repeats  

SUNDAY      

7- 8:15 p.m. — “Football Night in America”      

8:15-11:30 p.m. — “NBC Sunday Night Football”  

SUNDAY (beginning March 2011)

7-8 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”

8-9 p.m. – “Minute to Win It”

9-11 p.m. – “The Celebrity Apprentice”

Posted under tv news

This post was written by Shawna on May 16, 2010

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The 2010-11 Upfronts

Upfronts start on Monday.  This year has been a little strange — there have been a lot of early pickups, so we already know what most of the new shows are going to be, but we don’t know the schedules (or at least the proposed ones) yet.

For now, let’s recap what we know:

NBC (Upfront presentation 5/16)

New Shows:

Law & Order: Los Angeles
Undercovers
Love Bites
Harry’s Law
The Event
The Cape
Outlaw
Chase
Perfect Couples (half hr)
Friends with Benefits (half hr)
Outsourced (half hr)
School Pride (reality)

Canceled:

Law & Order
Mercy
Trauma

FOX (Upfront presentation 5/17)

New shows:

Lone Star (was Midland)
Ride Along
Keep Hope Alive
Traffic Light (half hr)
Bob’s Burgers (half hr)
Running Wilde (half hr)
The X Factor (reality)

Canceled:

24
Brothers
Dollhouse
Our Little Genius (reality, never aired!)
Past Life
Sit Down, Shut Up
Sons of Tuscon
‘Til Death
The Wanda Sykes Show

ABC (Upfront presentation 5/18)

New Shows:

187 Detroit
Off the Map
No Ordinary Family
My Generation (was Generation Y)
Body of Proof
Better Together
Happy Endings (half hr)
Mr. Sunshine (half hr)
Obese
The Six
Strictly Ice Dancing (reality)
The Whole Truth (reality)

Canceled:

Lost (ending)
Witches of Eastwick
The Deep End
Better off Ted
The Forgotten
Hank
Scrubs
Ugly Betty
Romantically Challenged
Flash Forward

CBS (Upfront presentation 5/19)

New shows:

Mike & Molly

Canceled:

Three Rivers
Numb3rs

The CW (Upfront presentation 5/20)

New shows:

Nikita

Canceled:

The Beautiful Life
Melrose Place
Blonde Charity Mafia

We’ll update after the official upfronts.

Posted under tv news

This post was written by Shawna on May 16, 2010

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TV Series news for 5/13

Ok, a lot of info at the end of the day, let’s tally up the results:

CBS:

Picked up “Mike and Molly” from Chuck Lorre.  That’s his third series on CBS.

NBC:

May or may not have canceled “Law & Order”.  Early word was that it was gone, but late afternoon word came down that the network wasn’t officially axing it yet.  Also hanging by a thread: “Heroes.”

Saved to fight another day – “Chuck” – gets a 13-episode order for next season.

ABC:

Most of the news was ABC today.  They picked up 3 comedies: “Mr. Sunshine,” “Happy Endings,” and “Better Together.”  They also picked up 3 dramas: “My Generation” (was “Generation Y,” and one of my personal faves), “The Whole Truth” and “Detroit 187.” Apparently “Wright vs. Wrong” is looking likely as a pick up too, though no official word on it yet.

ABC has also renewed “V” for a second season.  Which probably means “Flash Forward” is done.  “Cougar Town” may get a name change…that was the only other major series news today that I can find.

Posted under tv news

This post was written by Shawna on May 13, 2010

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TV News for 5/12

Fox renews “Human Target,” “Lie to Me”; picks up “Traffic Light” “Keep Hope Alive” “Midland” and “RideAlong”

Fox picks up ‘Running Wilde’ – Was ‘Wilde Kingdom’, this is the Will Arnett pilot. I read it – it’s good.

Having read MIDLAND and RIDEALONG, I can say those were ones I was expecting.  Haven’t caught up on all the half hour shows, so not sure about those two.  Really surprised that both HUMAN TARGET and LIE TO ME got picked up, as most people were thinking only one of the two would live.  I guess losing 24 does leave an action gap.

FX picks up comedy pilot ‘Wilfred’

NBC picks up ‘Perfect Couples’- I won’t be watching this show for one reason: OLIVIA MUNN. Though you may watch it because of her.

NBC has already picked up “The Chase”, “Undercovers,”  “Love Bites,” “The Event” and “Outsourced.”   “Law & Order: Los Angeles” (LOLA) is pretty much a done deal too, from what I’ve seen.

ABC picks up “No Ordinary Family” - stars Michael Chiklis, written by Greg Berlanti and Jon Feldman.

ABC hasn’t announced any other pickups so far.

 “Hawaii Five-0″ appears to be a go on CBS, as does the “Criminal Minds” spin-off.  The CW has already picked up “Nikita.”

Upfronts are next week.

FINAL NOTE: I am now writing reviews/articles for Seat42F.  I’ll start linking you guys to my articles.  If anyone would help out the cause by starting/contributing conversation over there (even if you need to trash me) – feel free.  Need to earn my keep.

Okay UPDATE WITH FINAL FINAL NOTE: I’m posting this stuff primarily to keep everyone updated on shows coming back.  So, if you have a LIE TO ME spec, you’re good for another season.  HUMAN TARGET can now be specced (though its value as a spec is still somewhat debatable –is anyone in town watching it?)

Posted under tv news, watch list

This post was written by Shawna on May 12, 2010

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The Good Wife and NCIS: LA get full season pickups

Per The Live Feed.

By the way if your show name is “Three Rivers,” this is not good news.  And even though it’s on a different network, “the forgotten” needs to watch its back.

Posted under tv news, watch list

This post was written by Shawna on October 7, 2009

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The first victim

Congrats to the CW for beating Fox to the (usual) punch of canceling the first show of the new season!  CW handed walking papers to “The Beautiful Life” on Friday.  I never read it.  I never watched it.  It had zero appeal to me.  Still not sure why CW greenlit it (was it just the Ashton Kutcher involvement?  It couldn’t have been Mischa Barton).

A&E has canceled “The Cleaner.”  TBS confirmed that “The Bill Engvall Show” is no more.

And “Dollhouse”… what shall we do with you?

Re-runs of two ABC sitcoms from earlier in the week had more viewers.  You barely beat “Smallville.”

Perhaps Whedon fans need to get off their computers for one day and watch some flippin’ TV.

Just sayin’.

Posted under tv news, watch list

This post was written by Shawna on September 26, 2009

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CW commits to Vampire Diaries, Melrose Place

CW has given back nine episode orders to Vampire Diaries, Melrose Place and One Tree Hill.

I’d hold back on those specs though…let’s see how the shows hold up until the end of the season.  Second seasons are NOT guaranteed yet.

Posted under tv news, watch list

This post was written by Shawna on September 23, 2009

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