TV on Disc: 'Southland' after NBC
The second, third, and fourth seasons of the best cop show currently on TV, collected in one set
"Southland: The Complete Second, Third, and Fourth Seasons" (Warner) – Created by screenwriter Ann Biderman ("Public Enemies") and produced by John Wells ("ER") for NBC in 2009, "Southland" was a return to the gritty, human, life-on-the-streets drama of uniform cops and detectives on the LAPD. NBC cancelled the show but TNT stepped and kept it going with its core cast intact and sensibility intact. Four seasons in, it is still easily the best cop show currently on television.
The ensemble drama spreads the stories around a number of characters, some of them recurring through the series, some of them with a season-long tour of duty. But four characters in particular anchor the show through every season: rookie Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie), on probation through season three; dedicated veteran John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) who mentors him while struggling with an addiction to pain killers; compassionate detective Lydia Adams (Regina King); and anxious young detective Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy), who chooses to go back to uniform patrol after watching a partner killed on the job.
Other characters come and go through the series, like C. Thomas Howell as Officer Dewey Dudek, who returns from rehab in Season 2 as a recovering alcoholic (proving that even when he's sober, he's still a complete a**hole) and weaves through at least a few episodes each season, and a number of regulars left after the third season, including Tom Everett Scott's Detective Russell Clarke (who begins the second season in the hospital, recovering from a near-fatal gunshot wound) and Arija Bareikis' Officer Chickie Brown, who gets a serious dressing-down from Cooper in Season 2. Jenny Gago takes a single season tour as Detective Josie Ochoa, partner to Adams in Season 3, and Lucy Liu signs on as Cooper's new partner in Season 4, a tough, ambitious young officer who suffers the worst of the sexist and racist taunts of Dudek and his Neanderthal buddies.
They don't all get along and they don't always make the right choices, which is what makes the show so good. This isn't about good cops and bad cops, it's about the people behind the badges, working cops doing their best to keep the peace, enforce the law, and stay alive. There are a lot of judgment calls here. The point of the show isn't about debating each call, simply trying to live with the results and learn from the situation so maybe you make a better one next time.
The second season was released separately through Warner Archive, the manufacture-on-demand line of DVD-R releases, but this is the first time on standard DVD for the season and the first time on disc for the third and fourth seasons.
26 episodes six discs on DVD, with the featurettes "A Crime Tour: Southland's Crime Map" (on the show's locations) and "Breaking the Badge: Selected Scene Commentary" (with stories behind some of season two's most provocative scenes) and deleted scenes from every season.
The fifth season begins on TNT on February 13.