Sunday, March 10, 2013

South Central (Television Review: Southland, TNT; Movie Review: End Of Watch)

Who would have thought that my one of my favorite shows right now would be a cop show? I have been an avid viewer of "Southland" since the first season, and it's so unlike what I normally watch. I wasn't a viewer when it was on NBC, before it got cancelled there and got picked up by TNT. Rather, I discovered it via Netflix. Once I started watching it, I got instantly hooked and have been following it ever since. Season 5 started the beginning of March and I just marathon watched the first four episodes and it's still as engrossing. We find John Cooper (played by the great Michael Cudlitz - why doesn't he have an Emmy for this?) partnered with a young rookie, and he isn't exactly thrilled with him. And we find them parting ways shortly afterwards, and he gets partnered again with a "senior." I love the way we see all the dark and shadows in his life. I also loved that we also get a glimpse of his love life. He may be the perfect flawed cop, but just like everybody else, he yearns and aches for someone - he seems to be unable to hold on to a relationship, and while we understand why he can't keep one, we empathize with him. Cudlitz deals with these character shadings effortlessly.  We definitely get to know his character well - he is kind hearted and ruthless at the same time, definitely not two dimensional here. Ben Mackenzie and Shawn Hatosy (Ben and Sammy) are still police partners, and Hatosy is terrific, too - he's this crazy police with a crazy ex-wife and they weave through a divorce process that's raw and real. Mckenzie holds his own. His character is more seasoned now, and I like the fact that he's more jaded now, after a couple of years in the force. Regina King as Lydia is terrific (again, where is her Emmy?) as the young mother balancing work and baby raising. At the end of episode two, she gets a tragedy and the scene where she finds this out is heartbreaking. Southland is still a procedural show and although the cases are more hits, there are some misses, notably one involving cooked human bodies that gave me hives. But this is still, in my opinion, one of the best shows on television right now. 
This also brought to mind a movie I recently saw on Blu-Ray, "End Of Watch."  That movie reminded me so much of "Southland."  Jake Gylenhaal and Michael Pena play police partners not unlike those in the television show, and if I am not mistaken, even cover more or less the same streets of South Central Los Angeles. Even the villains and gangs look the same. This movie, directed by David Ayler got very good notices when it came out last year, and I cannot remember why I neglected to see it in the theaters. The movie focuses on the friendship and bond that these police officers have, how they go through the same experiences in life, and how it overlaps relationships, marriage, birth. Both Gylenhaal and Pena are great, and they have wonderful chemistry. Gylenhaal seems very relaxed and comfortable in his role, and I cannot remember the last time I saw him so effortless in a movie. This is a great Saturday night rental.

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