The Shield — Killer TV No 6

We’re into the top six of CrimeTimePreview’s Killer 50 crime shows…


FX, 2002-2008, seven series

‘Good cop and bad cop left for the day. I’m a different kind of cop.’ – Vic Mackey

Michael Chiklis, Glenn Close, Catherine Dent, Paula Garces, Walton Goggins, Michael Jace, Kenneth Johnson, Forest Whitaker

Identikit: An experimental LAPD division is set up to deal with a crime-ravaged district of the city, with a Strike Team that includes leader Vic Mackey, a brutal and illegal operator who maintains order while profiting from drug-protection scams.

logosExploring the bad side of the badge, The Shield was a slickly scripted, pacy portrayal of city policing as a form of urban warfare. Though an ensemble drama, it was the block-like figure of Detective Vic Mackey that dominated proceedings. He was violent, obnoxious, insubordinate, corrupt – but effective. He made enemies on the street and at the Barn (the converted church that served as headquarters), particularly politically ambitious Captain David Aceveda. From the pilot these two butted heads, with Mackey telling Aceveda that he did not answer to the captain, and Aceveda planting officer Terry Crowley to gather evidence on Mackey’s corrupt methods and protection racket for drug dealers. The episode ended spectacularly with Mackie shooting Crowley in the face during a drug siege and making it look like the cop was killed in the shootout. The question of whether Mackey, whose clean-up rate also made him powerful allies in the police hierarchy, would ever have any justice visited on him kept the tension simmering brilliantly for seven series. Mackey was no pantomime villain, however, but a complicated figure of contradictions, loving his children and generous with his assistance to the odd hooker, but happy to set a police dog on a drug dealer. The biggest threat to the Strike Team came from Internal Affairs Department investigator Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh, played with scary intensity by Forest Whitaker. The Shield was a riveting journey with a great cast of characters, including Mackey’s cronies, such as Shane Vendrell, the strait-laced, pompous Dutch, and Claudette, the star detective unjustifiably kept from promotion to captain. And topping it all was Mackey – ‘Al Capone with a badge’ – who never failed to appal and fascinate.

Classic episode: On Tilt – the finale to season three saw the Strike Team targeted by an Armenian hit man and Vic taking matters into his own hands, while Claudette endangered her career by pursuing a risky case that made her unpopular with colleagues and the DA.

Music: Hip hop (Master P), pop (Duran Duran), country (Willie Nelson) and hard rock (Kid Rock) all featured during the series. The theme music was composed by Vivian Ann Romero, Ernesto J Bautista and Rodney Alejandro.

Watercooler fact: Kurt Sutter, who produced, wrote, directed and even starred in The Shield (as Armenian hit man Margos Dezerian), went on to create Sons of Anarchy, which stars his wife, Katey Sagal.

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior starring Forest Whittaker and Jeanne Garofalo PREVIEW

Profilers profiled – Jonathan, Coop, Gina, Mick, Beth. Pic: Alibi channel

Rating: ★★½

Alibi: starts Monday, 29 October, 9pm

Story: The elite profiling team at the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit investigate a series of murders in Cincinnati. Three men have been stabbed in hotel rooms during a three-week period. An unidentified blonde woman is suspected, but could someone else also be involved?

This spin-off from the successful Criminal Minds series has a good cast, headed by Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker and comedian/actress Janeane Garofalo. Among those offering solid support is Welsh actor and former Royal Shakespeare Company member Matt Ryan. He plays a former British special forces soldier.

Audiences were introduced to Sam Cooper’s slick team of criminal profilers in the fifth season of Criminal Minds. There’s the computer whiz, the hard nut (above), the former con, and Gina – ‘attractive, tough, with a cunning sense of perception’. But while the CBS producers did OK with casting the show, the weekly stories fell a little flat.

Rolling Stones set the tone

Coop confronts Marcus (Jay Paulson)

This first episode opens with a blast of the Stones’ Street Fighting Man as Coop – Forest Whitaker – roars up on a motorbike. The case is about a mysterious blonde who is murdering men in hotel rooms. Coop’s team is called in to look for patterns in the mayhem, but the first thing they find is that any pattern is erratic. Is the killer a prostitute, a psychopath?

The mystery opens up intriguingly when a sociopath in prison is tied in to proceedings. Crime story fans will enjoy how Coop and his experts pick apart the manipulator’s chilling behaviour patterns, such as the psychological tricks he uses to establish superiority when questioned by the FBI team.

No time for characters to develop in Suspect Behavior
Suspect Behavior‘s failure, however, is that too much is crammed into the episode. The talented cast are wasted firing staccato dialogue at each other at bewildering pace. Most disastrously, none of the team comes alive as a character (there’s no time), while the story concludes on the staple of all second-rate crime series – the daft plot twist.

The series was seen as a sure-fire hit as it had a built-in audience from Criminal Minds, and spin-offs usally do well. NCIS has one, CSI spawned two, and Law & Order has gone global.

Suspect Behavior was the exception to the rule. CBS cancelled the series, so there will be no season two (be warned, Alibi viewers, it ends on a cliffhanger). Which is a shame because this could have been an interesting drama, and, given the chance, the actors could have made it fly.

Cast: Forest Whitaker Sam ‘Coop’ Cooper, Janeane Garofalo Beth Griffith, Michael Kelly Jonathan Sims, Beau Garrett Gina LaSalle, Matt Ryan Mick Rawson, Kirsten Vangsness Penelope Garcia, Richard Schiff Jack Fickler

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