Friday, February 02, 2007

Now Playing: The Shield Season 4

One thing I learned while watching the lastest season of The Shield is not to watch another TV show at the same time and expect to get anything done in the interim. While watching this and The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. I soon realized I wasn't going to have time to do any blogging until they were finished but now that they are I'm switching over to movies for a while. Those are far easier to burn through in one sitting and review so the TV shows will have to wait for a bit.

This season of The Shield finds Vic Mackey and his crew scattered to the four winds after the falling out at the end of year three. Only Ronnie is still working with Mackey and they're focused on monitoring the body shop sting they set up last year. In the meantime, Aceveda moves onward and upward into his position of city councilman and new captain Monica Rowling (Glenn Close) takes charge of the Barn. Is she going to go after Mackey or will she let him do his thing? Those questions and more take center stage as Rowlings quickly institutes a seizure program where the cops can and will take all property bought with drug money and that includes homes, cars, stereos, etc. All proceeds will go to the city, the police, and back into the community.

Naturally, this doesn't sit well with the local kingpin Antone Mitchell (a frightening Anthony Anderson).

While the show doesn't find its footing until roughly episodes five or six, The Shield remains formidable television. Any show where Anthony Anderson comes off as the most evil and dominating badass that show has ever seen is doing something right. Mitchell is brutal, but he's a thinker. He's highly intelligent and determined to rule the streets one way or the other. I think why the show doesn't start off as fascinating as it quickly becomes is on account of Mitchell being relegated to the side lines for the first few episodes. You sense a threat from him, but nothing we haven't seen already until he performs an act that nets him two cops under his thumb. From that point forward, Mitchell is a force to be reckoned with and Anderson is terrific. Frankly, I never knew he had this level of gravitas in him and I hope for bigger and better things happen to him.

Close is equally strong as the hard headed Rowling who is determined to do the right thing come hell or high water. She knows going in that the situation in the Barn is sticky and that Mackey is a particular loose canon, but she believes what she's doing is for the good of the community first and foremost.

That's a far cry from Aceveda who's as politically and selfishly motivated as ever. Benito Martinez gets saddled with the most ridiculous storyline of the season, a rank previously held by the Julian character, as he is still badly coping with his rape from last year. The conclusion to it is good for two reasons: 1) It's satisfying to hear what happens finally to the rapist in question, 2) It finally brings closure to the dumbest subplot this side of Julian's "gay-not gay" saga from previous years.

I also liked how Rowling gets better results than Aceveda ever did because she's thinking like a cop all the time instead of a politician most of the time and a cop some of the time. By the end of the season, things are starting to return to where they were when the show started and whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on how they handle it in season five. I'm hoping for bigger and better things when that season finally hits disc in a few months, but The Shield season four is a heck of a good ride if you can get past the bumps in the first four episodes.

Also, The Shield can be gut-bustingly hilarious at times, none moreso than this season, and the writers need to bring the funny more frequently.


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