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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Shield

Tim Goodman, who has championed The Shield since day one, has a typically fine wrap-up on the series finale. Heavy stuff, but a fitting end to an excellent show. Pound for pound, probably the best ensemble cast this side of The Wire, and even then it's close. Chiklis was an absolute force of nature throughout, but there are a half-dozen actors in this cast deserving an Emmy nomination. Of course, that's also true of The Wire, and the fact is that they'll all be passed up for James Spader (and I like Spader, but guys like Chiklis and Wendell Pierce pwn his ass) or some shit, because the people who vote on awards shows are politically-motivated morons.

Some of the side plots were resolved a bit weakly, but it's a minor beef in an otherwise powerful ending. Some of the storylines actually could have kept going a bit, but unlike NYPD Blue or ER or some such, The Shield writers knew when it was time to go. And the show itself created a viability for basic cable content, a small oasis in a sea of infomercials, shopping netwroks, "reality" chum, and pseudo-celebrity ass-sniffing.

The FX channel has real potential in the biker drama Sons of Anarchy (created by Shield writer Kurt Sutter), but its comedy series (including, sadly, the formerly excellent It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) are practically unwatchable, so there's a ways to go still toward building a real network.

But The Shield managed to breathe new life into a well-worn genre, taking a direction away from the tedious prodcedurals and shock-value lab-tech dramas. (I've seen exactly three episodes of CSI over the years, and every one of them had lurid descriptions of blood and semen spattered everywhere. Not to be a prude but, why is it on the networks that you can't say "asshole" at any hour, but you can describe in detail the qualities of various bodily fluids and violent crimes during the "family hours"?)

6 comments:

Marius said...

It's how you say it, not what you say, that matters with these guys. You can probably talk about genocide on prime time, as long as you call it something euphemistic -- ethnic relocation, group-downsizing, that kind of shit. I'm beginning to suspect that Americans are OK with a lot of semantic content -- it's only the directness of description that bothers their little puritanical selves. But not what they are a description of.

Heywood J. said...

Part of it is the old Carlin chestnut that "you can prick your finger, but you can't finger your prick", even though there are plenty of more descriptive double-entendres that are perfectly acceptable. And every year or so another word or phrase is allowed in, so a half-dozen or so of the "edgier" shows will immediately jump in, use the new phrase, and start taking the piss out of it.

And of course part of it is that 'murkins are weirdly more comfortable with depictions of violence than of sex. Even bodily functions are more acceptable than bumping uglies. I've never understood it, though compared to the violent sexual repression of Islamic regimes, I suppose we can't really complain.

Marius said...

An American friend of mine had to go do some work in London for Constellation Energy, and he tells me that, during his stay in England, he oddly missed the violence on TV.

(It should be pointed out, however, that Britain gave us Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham, two recent contributors to the knuckle-sandwich cuisine).

Anonymous said...

although its not about to download the shield tv show which i was looking for but as i am a huge the shield lover so i enjoyed it as well.

bill said...

The Shield is such a wonderful show to watch. I like the plot of this show which is really interesting. And the acting of Michael Chiklis is just amazing.

rookie said...

The Shield TV Show is a good show. The plot of the show is interesting and I always watch this show online. And the finale episode was really rocking.