From the very first episode, "The Shield" became immediately my most favourite TV series and even if later I found that "The Wire" was even better, still I faithfully swallowed all the episodes until the terrifying and grandiose finale seven years later. I own all the seasons on DVD and I will keep them for EVER!
I really don't want to provide spoilers, so I will say only the strict minimum about what those extraordinary series are about. Everything happens in the fictional Farmington district of Los Angeles, quite obviously nicknamed "The Farm" and the local police station ("The Barn") is located in a reconverted church. Farmington is possibly the poorest and the toughest district in whole Los Angeles and the level of violent crime there is simply amazing, mostly due to the presence of numerous well armed and extremely violent drug trafficking street gangs. Somehow reflecting the image of the whole Farmington "The Barn" is not exactly in great shape and most of the toilets are frequently out of service, to such a point, that men and women have mostly to share the only facilities left...)))
"The Barn" just received a new captain, tough, efficient and extremely ambitious David Aceveda (brilliant Benito Martinez). Although he received a very tough assignment, in one aspect Aceveda was lucky - his most senior detective is Claudette Wyms (wonderful CCH Pounder), a non-nonsense and tough as nails middle aged woman who is possibly the most dangerous (for offenders) criminal investigator in the whole Los Angeles. Another great asset for "The Barn" is Sergeant Danielle "Danny" Sofer (Catherine Dent), another very tough gal who was simply BORN to be a cop and who now, after 15 years on the force, is especially appreciated as trainer of rookies.
But the real "heroes" of the series are the four guys who form the "Strike Team", an elite anti-gang unit based on the LAPD's real-life Rampart Division CRASH unit. Detective Vic Mackey (amazing Michael Chiklis) is the leader and the rest of the team is composed of his trusted friends Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins), Curtis "Lem" Lemansky (Kenneth Johnson) and Ronnie Gardocki (David Rees Snell).
Now, from the very first episode one thing is absolutely clear - all the four guys in the "Strike Team" are bad, REALLY BAD COPS! Bad like in corrupt - in fact they are much more dangerous than most of the criminals they put behind bars... However, they do their day jobs pretty well - it's just that they also have a second, very interesting, very lucrative and totally illegal activity (in fact more than one...). And I am not saying more.
There are also some other regular characters, two of which provide most of the humour on the series (yes, albeit very dark, "The Shield" contains also tons of hoots): quite competent but somehow pathetic detective Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach (Jay Karnes) and a completely demotivated slacker, detective Steve Billings (David Marciano).
Other than the originality of the plot (the "heroes" are bad, corrupt police officers), the main reasons why "The Shield" is such a great show are as follows:
- extremely tense and dramatic plot in every single episode, with unexpected twists and clever surprises
- absolutely brilliant dialogs (with certainly a lot of strong language)
- an absolutely amazing gallery of secondary characters, some of which resurface occasionally in later seasons
- a quite realistic portraying of life in poor ghettos of Los Angeles and of all the racial tensions in those areas, with many incredibly cruel and horrible and occasionally also some hilarious, outlandish events (not all of them criminal) described which were actually inspired by real dramas...
- an excellent camera work in many action scenes, reminding of footage taken by war correspondents working in the first line of battle
- an AMAZING soundtrack mixing gangsta rap, heavy metal and all other kinds of extreme, but mostly very good music
Now, of course the plot is sometimes stretched a little - I cannot imagine that those four guys from "Strike Team" would ever be allowed to continue their murderous criminal rampage for seven years in a real police force. But honestly, I don't complain. In fact I am a little bit sorry, that there couldn't be at least one more season...
Bottom line, this is an AMAZING show, ground breaking and still absolutely UNIQUE when the selection of "heroes" is concerned. To buy, watch, cherish, keep and re-watch! ENJOY!