Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Speaking of when to end...

So last week's discussion of whether TV shows run too long had particular resonance for me with the return of "The Shield," a show I dearly love and yet am always vaguely troubled by the extended existence of. My review of the new season:

"It isn't your time yet," Vic Mackey is warned by an enemy. "But it'll happen. The universe will take out its trash when it's ready."

This cosmic garbage removal has seemingly been scheduled for Mackey -- the corrupt, charismatic anti-hero of "The Shield" -- for years, and yet the universe remains content to let him draw flies at its curb.

The first time we ever met him, he killed an innocent cop, and in the years since, he's committed virtually every crime in the California penal code. Some have been motivated by justice, others by self-interest (notably the robbing of an Armenian mob money train), but on average Vic has spent more time covering his own behind than he has locking up bad guys -- or, I suppose I should say, other bad guys. He's had the noose around his neck time and again, and time and again he's slipped out of it.

And if there's a flaw to be found in the otherwise riveting new season of "The Shield," it's the knowledge that because it's the second-to-last season instead of the last, Vic will no doubt emerge from the trash pile smelling like a rose at least one more time.

To read the full thing, click here. Passover may get in the way of doing a premiere post-mortem by tonight, so if you want to comment on the first episode immediately after it airs, do it here.

UPDATE: Bumping this one up because I forgot to mention that this episode, as often happens with "Shield" premieres and finales, is about 10 minutes longer than standard, so pad those recordings if necessary.


rukrusher said...

It took my wife two seasons to convince me to watch this show. I watched the first 2 seasons on DVD and have been hooked ever since. I thought the show did well when they split up the crew and I could see it working again with a finale this year of Vic struggling with his desire to avenge the murder by committing the same murder. I think the cliff hanger will have Shane in jail and Vic wondering if his decision not to kill Shane will result in him cooperating and putting Vic behind bars.

I cannot decide if the proper ending to this is Vic dead or in prison. I lean towards prison, it almost seems easy if he dies.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't erase the problem, but one should remember that the timeline in The Shield is far tighter than most shows. With the exception of the six month jump between the 4th and 5th seasons, the seasons - which are always compressed to a few months - flows into each other, with little time jumps. I'd say that Lem died 2 and 1/2 to 3 years after the pilot. Vic might be avoiding his downfall for a long time, but it's not as long as one might think at first.

Anonymous said...

Vic's not being brought to justice doesn't bother me in the least. In real life, bad people get away with monstrous acts all the time.

dark tyler said...

Plus, I bet that Vic's earlier crimes will eventually come back to bite him in the ass, just like the assassination in the pilot. Maybe he doesn't fall in the next 10 episodes, but he will during the next 20, that's not such a big difference.

If it means that every character will get the closure they deserve, I'm fine with it. :)

Anonymous said...

"Who would have ever expected, five years ago, that an obscure cable channel like FX was going to introduce one of the great cop dramas of all time, and that it would star the guy from 'The Commish' and 'Daddio'?"

Let alone created by a guy who used to write for Nash Bridges!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Again, without trying to spoil too much, by season six the season reaches what feels like the point of no return, in a way that none of Vic or Shane's previous problems have. If the show shies away from where it's obvious the story needs to go -- or even if the writers try to pad things out, "Sopranos"-style, I'm going to be disappointed.

But Shawn assures me that he and the writers are hard at work at proving me wrong, and he's smarter than I am, so I suspect he will.

Anonymous said...


I hope you're right. Like you, I was looking forward to this run of episodes because it was the final run of episodes. Whitaker's run on the show was tremendous, and the writers worked hard to give his character the heft to go toe to toe with Mackey. I was looking for an explosive end.

But having just watched the premiere...I can see Kavanaugh's clock running down, and it's a bit deflating. More than that, I thought his actions were a betrayal of the way the character had been built up in Season Five. And the supercop tendencies of the show -- Mackey knows every gang member and where they hang out and what territory is currently in dispute at all times -- stood out to me more than in times past, because I could see the machinery cranking to get Vic to Season Seven. As an example, when Vic asks Claudette, "Who're you gonna get to handle that for you?" I knew exactly how the hospital scene would play out to give Mackey and the team the high ground.

And there's no way you'll convince me that, once Kavanaugh's ruse from last season is revealed, that either Claudette, Dutch, or Vic (all astute cops and strategic thinkers) wouldn't see that Shane has a motive and is acting guilty as hell. I mean, I know they're all supposed to be preoccupied, but if Dutch is smart enough to be immediately suspicious of Kavanaugh he's certainly smart enough to know Shane's a better suspect than Vic.

Of course, I can complain all I want, but I'm in for the rest of the season. Even if they've never given her the storylines she's deserved, CCH Pounder commands the screen. And it looks like Walton Goggins season long breakdown is going to be an Emmy-worthy performance. And where are they going to take Catherine Dent and Cathy Cahlin Ryan? Heck, I'm even enjoying comic relief David Marciano, playing Billings as a shadier Ray Vecchio.

Let's see what you can do, Shawn Ryan.