It’s hard to imagine that just 10 years ago Steven Bochco stirred up a hornet’s nest with the introduction of NYPD Blue. I say hard to imagine because after just three seasons The Shield has taken commercial TV to heights unimagined by anyone 10 years ago. Vic Mackey doesn’t just rough up suspects. He controls the streets he patrols. He’s not even above killing another cop to keep his thumb on crime in the Barrio district of L.A. Michael Chiklis, once known as the fatherly kind cop on The Commish, has t…tally sold us on this almost irredeemable renegade.
While F/X is a cable network, it still relies on the same advertising spots that the other networks depend on as their lifeblood. Unlike HBO or Showtime, F/X must also comply with stricter guidelines for decency. The Shield pushes that envelope to the very edge. Cinematography is gritty and often documentary in style. The music is harsh. The stories are extremely tight. Not a minute is wasted on superfluous trivia. This show grabs you in the first minute and reluctantly lets you go in the closing credits, only to lie in wait with another compelling episode to begin the cycle again.
Vic Mackey (Chiklis) leads a rough and tumble Strike Team on L.A.’s meanest streets. The team doesn’t bother with the law book while they hand down their own form of justice. The team operates out of an old church building known as The Barn. Captain Aceveda (Martinez) wants to bring down the Strike Team but benefits from their control of crime.
Loud! That’s the best way to describe the Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix offered on The Shield. The music often dominates the audio presentation. At times even the dialogue is lost in the overall volume. The dynamic range is impressive. You won’t find any distortion even when you crank the amp. Subs are almost always going strong. There is always plenty to excite the ears.
The Shield is presented in its original broadcast full frame aspect ratio. Where the sound excels on these releases, the video often disappoints. The show is filmed primarily on 16mm, so there is an inherent problem with grain, particularly in night shots. A show as powerful as this one also cries out for a 16×9 presentation. The transfer likely makes the best from the source material. I didn’t find the DVDs to be any better visually than the F/X broadcasts using a higher end Sat receiver.
Eight episodes sport great commentary tracks. All three seasons of The Shield have been blessed with some of the better commentaries out there. You’ll get a good blend of technical and anecdotal stories on each track. Participants include just about all of the main actors and a good mix of writers and directors. Unlike the previous 2 seasons, Shawn Ryan is limited to only a couple of the tracks.
There is a whopping collection of 38 deleted scenes found on this set. Each has the option of a Shawn Ryan commentary. This is a ton of deleted scenes.
“Breaking Episode 315” is a huge feature on the season’s final episode. This thing clocks in at almost an hour and a half. Every aspect of the production of this episode is covered in incredible detail. You’ll spend quality time with the writers, director, and actors. This is a top notch feature.
The menus are pretty much static. The packaging has changed to a box of slim cases. I think these will stand up to time and use better.
Glenn Close is about to join the cast for season 4 of The Shield. Shawn Ryan has done a wonderful job of keeping the face of this series fresh. This season Mackey and the gang deal mostly with the aftermath of taking down the money train. A new Strike Team member causes trouble. Worse for Mackey is answering to Claudette. The Shield has a bright future if they continue to “play it smart”.
Special Features List
- Audio commentary on selected episodes
- 38 deleted scenes with optional commentary
- “Breaking Episode #315” making-of documentary