In April 2009, NBC premiered Southland, a new series focusing on the LAPD, featuring both the uniformed cops on the streets and the plainclothes detectives. Although the show garnered rave reviews and a solid fanbase, NBC shuffled it around their schedule before ultimately canceling it. TNT picked the show up to air its second season, and they began the third season in January. Accompanying the third season premiere was the long awaited release of the debut season on DVD. Now all seven episodes from NBC are available on Southland: The Complete First Season Uncensored.
The entirety of Southland‘s first season aired through April and May 2009 before NBC shelved it indefinitely. Most shows that go through cancellation never see the light of day again, and many don’t deserve to. Southland is one of the very rare exceptions in that it very much deserved to live on, and it got the opportunity through TNT’s recognizing a hit and grabbing it. There’s no shortage of police shows on TV, from the various CSI flavors to the Law & Order spinoffs to NCIS. Southland distinguishes itself by focusing less on the procedural aspects of each investigation and more on the human element and the lives and relationships between the people involved.
Season one introduces us to rookie cop Ben Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie), who is partnered with veteran officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz). Much of the season follows the developing respect between Sherman and Cooper, beginning with Sherman doubting his own abilities and Cooper not thrilled to be paired with the new kid from Beverly Hills. The show follows a number of other police officers in several areas of investigation and focuses on a new case each week, much like other series in the genre. Some of the plot threads weave through multiple episodes, and we see actual character growth and development between episodes one and seven, again setting Southland apart from its contemporaries.
The DVD release collects all seven episodes across two discs. The uncensored versions of the episodes in this DVD set are profanity laden, so this probably isn’t a good one to pop into the player with the kids around. Along with the episodes themselves, there is one featurette, Southland: Redefining the Cop Drama. It’s a behind the scenes feature that has the cast and crew talking about what went into creating this new series and making it stand out.
If you missed the first season of Southland on NBC, this release is the perfect chance to catch up. If you’ve tried watching other cop shows but couldn’t get into them because of silliness or lack of character depth, Southland just might be the one for you. It’s straightforward and emotional, not shying away from rough topics and scenes, and as recent third season episodes have shown, it’s not afraid to go into shocking but real aspects of life in the LAPD.