Thursday, June 7, 2007
With all eyes on the most prescient anti-hero to evuh hit the small screen, James Gandolfini’s indelible Tony Soprano, lest us not forget the less watched and much less talked-about, but arguably, the equally vivid and layered anti-hero created by Michael Chikis, the bullet-headed detective Vic Mackey of FX’s The Shield. Vic is a tougher-than-nails cop given to prowling the mean streets of inner-city L.A., a cop as volatile as his perps, and one who straddles many lines ranging from smarmy racist to inveterate do-gooder, from family man to serial cheater, from law abider to law breaker, from uber moral cop to one not against lining his pockets. Since 2002, for over 70 episodes, Chiklis’ Mackey has been traipsing and marauding down the same American shock corridors as Tony Soprano, albeit more ferociously and on a much tighter-strung high wire. Watching The Shield is akin to a gut punch (or shot), as creator Shawn Ryan has perfected the art of making the audience root for Vic, despise Vic, be appalled by Vic, even admire Vic, intrinsically carving out the protagonist-as-anti-hero in a nutshell. It’s a dark and dirty show, the rare television product with its compass purposefully askew, and when it eventually winds down (supposedly next season) the show, and Chiklis’ unforgettable Vic Mackey, may indeed deserve an extremely high ranking in the Overlooked TV Hall of Fame--standing alongside such under-watched gems as Homicide: Life on the Street, Buffalo Bill, Frank’s Place, Johnny Staccato, Nichols, or Shannon’s Deal.