Why you should watch... The Shield

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The Shield

Starring Michael Chiklis out of an ugly looking orange suit 'The Shield' is one of the most innovative and exciting cop shows out there. It rates as one of my "Big two" police shows alongside 'The Wire' and has currently finished it's six season. There is one final season planned and then that's it.

'The Shield' is so unique because it has a fresh angle on the genre of 'Cops and Robbers'. Instead of a clearly defined line between the police and the criminals you have a group of policemen who are willing to break the law. Both for results and for personal gain. It's very hard to define the strike team - which is headed up by Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) - as good guys. But they are very clearly the center players of the show. At best they are anti-heroes, at worst criminals with a badge.

The core of the strike team consists of Vic Mackey, Shane, Ronnie and Lem. It's is their stories that we follow most of all. But orbiting around them are the various other members of the police station, refered to as "The Barn". Notable amongst these are Dutch, Claudette, Danny, Acevada and Julian but other characters are of importance as well. Even these other members aren't entirely clean, at times they're tempted to step beyond the boundries of the written law.

And that's a huge key theme of the show, what is acceptable in pursuit of justice? How far should a cop go? What happens once you've stepped over that line? Can you go back? The show delivers tremendously on this count, ethically and morally you shouldn't support the Strike Team. They do so much wrong, but you can't help but like them. Their actions feel justified as you can see the surrounding enviroment that is driving the decisions. It's wonderful to root for the "bad guys" once in a while.

Alongside all the gritty and dark tone of this show stands a subtle sense of humour. It's present in both the situations and the dialog. One of my favourites involves the shooting of a dog, a young cop might get into trouble for doing this. So they place a gun near to it, and I'll let the dialog speak for the rest.

Vic Mackey: Sir, I'm telling you, the kid had no choice. The dog was reaching. It was kill or be killed.
Rawling: Oh come on, Roy. The dog had a piece, he was gonna use it.

Such brilliant writing, injecting humour into the situation without making it absurd.

I could go on and on about this show for a lot longer. But I think I should wrap up here and summarise. You should watch 'The Shield' as it's a dark and gritty show that breaks the normal rules for the cop genre. It's fast paced, well scripted and is difficult to predict. Just when you think you've figured out the next sequence of events the show twists off in an entirely new and unpredictable direction. It's a bleak show where the heroes can only be distinguished from the bad guys by the badge they carry, and as such there is a very real threat of danger to the characters you come to love. You'll end up wanting Vic Mackey and his Strike team to get away with it all, but not sure they will.
The show is not for everyone, as many like their stereotypical good guy cops. But if you can take something that's different and challenging to watch 'The Shield' is waiting to amaze and wow you every step of the way.

To sum up, I'd like to quote Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach.
Holland Wagenbach: (about Vic Mackey) Why does everyone like that asshole so much?

Who can really say? I do like him a lot, I hope he gets away with it at the end of the seventh season. But I can't be sure he will.

Must watch!


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