Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Shield: Best Crime Show on TV?

Watching season three of The Shield. Is it the best crime show on TV? Let's examine the evidence:

1). Vic Macke: Frickin' cool. I'd do 'em. Like a functional Tony Soprano, Vic just radiates pure power. He manages to be a corrupt cop and a good cop at the same time without just being another Sipowitz. One Sipowitz is enough, thanks.

2). The Dutchman: I'd happily watch a spin-off on this ying to Vic's yang: ineffectual and intellectual, the Dutchman actually solves his cases, as opposed to just beating the fuck out of some perps. I especially like the way they allow his cases to stretch over a whole season, mirroring what actual investigations can be like.

3). Storytelling: One of the reasons cop shows work so well is that you get a mix of story lines that can be solved in a week (most of the crimes) plus more soap-opera season length arcs. The Shield juggles all of these expertly. As opposed to the dominate show of the day, Law & Order, which barely dips into personal life at all, The Shield has its cops mixing business and pleasure so that every story line connects organtically.

4). True Grit: While not the "cocksucker"-fest that Deadwood is, for a basic cable program, The Shield is as nasty as it can get. They might not be able to say "cocksucker," but the writers have the guts to allow one of their lead male's become a forced cocksucker.

What shows are contenders for the claim to Best Crime Show?

The Sopranos: Between the lackluster last season and the endless wait for the next one, Tony and the gang have offcially lost zeitgeist status. Especially thanks to:

Deadwood: A great show, but one season is too early to tell if it will last, epecially since a good third of that season wasn't very good. Near the end, it got as tasty as any TV anywhere. Time will tell.

Law & Order: I can't keep track of all of them anymore. A fun, endlessly watchable show (one benefit of sticking to episode-based stories is that you can watch one of the shows any time: this is why L&O has done so well in syndication). But Lennie Briscol is gone, and the show is more like an endless series of snacks than a meal.

CSI: I'm only going to say this once: CSI sucks. It chugs balls. Reading about forensic science is interesting, in a fashion, but it's insanely boring to watch on TV. So CSI sexes the whole thing up so ridiculously that it might as well be called SCI-FI.

So, for now, I'm giving it to The Shield. If you haven't watched it, start with the first season as soon as possible.

EDIT: Bonus Reason: David Mamet is directing the show I'm watching now. When Rebecca Pidgeon showed up in the show, I wondered if the two of them had gotten divorces. Guess not.


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