Monday, January 5, 2009

Law and Disorder


Tawk about too much monkey business—The very existence of the DVR has me unwinding on so many planes of popcult existence I half expect it to soon start dispensing toilet paper and cold beers. Tawk about far too little, way too late--It is with the most addled of apologies I offer up this extremely belated take on one of television’s finest recent achievements.
FX’s cop-and-disorder series The Shield ended its 7-year-run with both a bang and a whimper, a beautifully modulated endgame that brought together all of the outstanding drama’s themes (the capriciousness of justice, the thin lines between good guy/bad guy/tainted guy, L.A. as urban jungle and field of dreams, the politics of loyalty, the addictive powers of collusion and denial, the less-than-glorious existence of your average civil-servant police person, to list just a few) and it accomplished all that with the earmarks that have been an essential part of creator Shawn Ryan’s down and dirty potpourri since Detective Vic Mackey ( powerhouse Michael Chiklis, turning in a sustained performance that rivals nearly any other in contempo TV history) blew away a fellow cop in the very first episode. The Shield was one constant search-and-destroy mission, tossing moral grenades into the urban shadows, firing bullets of injustice onto the deserving and the undeserving, all of it splattering into a vivid, kaleidoscope of television canvas. It ends its run every bit as multi-layered and rich in character as either the critically adored The Wire or the publicly acclaimed The Sopranos, and along the way it undeniably put viewers through a continually deepening emotional ringer, with Mackey among the most compelling anti-heroes seen on the big or little screen in quite some time.

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