DVDs in Review #67: The Shield The Final Act: Season Seven

I was half tempted when I sat down to write this to post the following:

"It's amazing. Quite literally the best thing I've ever seen on television, and most likely the best thing I'll ever watch in my life."

And then just sign off the review at that. It would be completely true in every aspect and there doesn't seem to be much point writing anything more. I'm still left somewhat speechless when I try to express just how unbelievable and perfect the final season was. The last few moments of the show just blew me away, left me emotionally drained and pretty much unable to comprehend normal speech.

I have trumpeted my love for The Shield pretty much since I started writing here, it's the one show I'd almost profess to being a fan of, and that's saying a lot because I have the following definition of the word fan:

fan - A person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm, as for a cause.

Yeah, over here in my book fan = fanatic. Mind you, my book is written in crayon and has bold easy to understand pictures about a boy named Bill and his ball, his big, red ball. But still, as much as I adore The Shield and consider it the single greatest piece of television I've ever had the pleasure to watch, I still hesitate to call myself a fan, because there's solid reasoning behind my claim.

Ever since The Shield burst onto the screen all the way back in 2002 it's been a show which has pushed the boundaries of both television and quality all the way. I was gripped from the end of the very first episode and amazed more television just wasn't this visceral. If you were to liken The Shield to an animal it would be a shark, swimming in your bathtub, with your privates already in its mouth and a tendency to shake while biting down - it's that darn intense and gripping.

Still, many shows can't manage to keep up such a level of intensity and devotion to their chosen path. 24 devolved over time from a truly unique concept into a laughable and at times disturbing parody of itself, Lost had a truly atrocious second season and even The Wire slipped a little when it reached it's fifth and final season. Considering the pedigree of shows like The Wire (and Lost), what chance does The Shield have at keeping up a consistent level of quality?

The short version is; every damn chance in the book. Because not only does The Shield keep up in it's consistency, delivering eighty eight episodes without a single one slipping in quality; not only that, but it manages the simply staggering feat of getting better with each passing season. And the seventh season, this final season contained within this boxed set, it is THE best season of The Shield by not just a bit, but by a huge margin. It's a season which brings a seven year story thread to a final and utterly devastating close. It's a show which remains utterly dedicated to it's own unique style and vision right until the final moment the credits hit, leaving you feeling drained and emotionally wrung out.

That's not to say the season is perfect, it isn't - initially the season takes a little time to get going, you can be left feeling a little "where's this going?" at times, but looking back on each episode now that I understand the entire picture I can see why things happened the way they did. It all builds up to a staggering set of pay-offs. The only other show I've seen which has managed to pull such a meaningful multi-season story is The Wire, where the character Bubbles, a minor character for much of the show (respectively speaking) closes out his five season "life story" with such an amazing earned moment. The Shield manages the same thing, it earns those final scenes and savours them with such poise and grace.

Yes, The Shield is not for everyone. It is a controversial show for good reason, it's a very macho and even misogynistic show at times. The leads are thoroughly unpleasant pieces of work and the crimes they commit in the name of law enforcement are absolutely revolting at times. But the show manages to highlight the duality of the characters, you begin to understand why they're doing what they're doing. The actions of Vic and the Strike Team paved the way for many morally grey (or outright black) characters to arrive, Dexter in part has a lot to thank Vic for.

I could go on for a long time, and I'm sure that this isn't the last time I talk about The Shield. So all that's left to say is this; if I still bothered with star ratings this one would go all the way to eleven.

Now if you excuse me, I'm going to go watch it all from the beginning again.

Episode commentaries from the cast and crew
A Special behind-the0scenes Featurette (which is must see)
Deleted Scenes
Commentaries on the Deleted Scenes

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Languages: English, French
Rating: 15
Region: 2 (though the Region 1 release is identical)
Runtime 11 Hours 20 mins
Subtitles: English, Arabic, French, Hindi


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