“I make a living in the movies, but for the past 20 years I’ve also been a cop. And, along with some of the finest deputies on the force, I serve the people of Jackson Parish, Louisiana. My name is Steven Seagal. That’s right, Steven Seagal, deputy sheriff.”
We’ve all seen Steven Seagal kick the bad guys butts in the movies. Since 1988’s Above The Law, Seagal has gained a reputation for playing a tough guy. What most people didn’t know is that for just about as long he has been a fully commissioned police officer working a beat in Southern Louisiana. Recruited by the legendary Sherriff Harry Lee, Seagal works as a reserve officer for the Sherriff’s office there. He pretty much does what any cop in the field would do. He responds to calls, makes arrests, and serves in whatever capacity might be required. He also uses his own extensive martial arts training to teach workshops for his fellow officers and up-and-coming officers in training. Now, on the surface you might be tempted to look upon this work as some kind of publicity stunt or half baked celebrity honorary role. The fact that A&E is now doing a reality show on his exploits on the force would tend to solidify such feelings. However, the truth is that he’s been doing it for 20 years, actually going out of his way to avoid bringing attention to the gig. Believe it or not, this stuff’s for real.
The series is a combination of Cops and the standard celebrity reality show. A good portion of each episode is spent on patrol with Seagal and his fellow officers. We watch them respond to the same kinds of routine calls we’re used to following on Cops. Of course, Seagal is the focus of the show, and they do stretch things a bit by having some rather forced lines from the actor. He does do a bit of showboating here. To Seagal’s credit, he does allow his colleagues to shine and gives them their moments in the sun. He has to remind us a dozen times per episode that he’s had a lifetime mastery of the martial arts. I also tired of hearing him tell us how pretty much every run they make is a “very dangerous situation”. There’s this stylish camera trick where we go to zoom and slow motion to dramatize some nuance detection that Seagal apparently has noticed.
The second part of each episode focuses on Seagal’s life in other ways. There are plenty of bits where he’s training other officers. Pieces include him training his own attack dogs, visiting children’s hospitals, playing in a blues band, and helping victims of Katrina. There’s a lot of the “feel good” activities intended obviously to make Seagal look like a stand-up guy. Not that he isn’t, of course, but the show does tend to go out of its way to make him look like a hero.
Each episode is presented in a somewhat disappointing non-anamorphic 1.66:1 aspect ratio. It’s rare to find this kind of image presentation these days. I’m not really sure why the discs are released this way. Still, colors are pretty good. The release is serviceable in image quality. Black levels are a little better than fair. It’s very documentary style, so don’t expect incredible camera work here. That also means you should expect some serious inconsistency in the image quality.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track delivers exactly what you are looking for and nothing more. The dialog is clear, and that’s all you’re going to get out of this minimalist presentation.
Fans of Seagal likely knew more about this part of his life. I have to confess I did not. So, for me, the series was somewhat of an entertaining curiosity. It’s pretty solid, but once you’ve seen a handful of episodes, you’ve seen it all. It’s certainly a kick to watch the Hollywood tough guy “keepin’ the streets of Jefferson County safe from the bad guys”.