Southland, "U-Boat": patient he is

Quick Take: Southland, "U-Boat"
I've figured out Southland kids. I've cracked the code!

southland

Review: Southland, "U-Boat"
(S0203) It's taken me a while to figure out exactly how I feel about Southland, but I think I finally have it nailed: Southland is a good show that has the potential to be very good and may even occasionally scrape its way to the fringes of great. In terms of the greater television landscape, I call that pretty high praise.

There are two big and obvious problems that I have with the show, and they are both very minor, but they contributed to my not getting a good read on things for some time:

  • The opening theme music / credits are atrocious – That music creeps me out to no end, and seeing old black and white photos of serial killers and the weapons/paraphernalia they used doesn't really fit a gritty, modern show ostensibly about what it's like to be a cop in a big urban city and "live in the gray," as John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) explains to Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) in this episode. Plus, there's the fact that I live in the Southland and the opening credits make me think that there's a psychotic dude with a rusty machete on the perimeter of my lawn at all times, ever watchful. Patient he is.
  • The voiceover / flash forward that kicks off each episode doesn't work – After the credits and the somewhat ominous voiceover and flash forward at the beginning of each episode, I'm ready to think that there's going to be epic carnage and bloodletting. But that doesn't fit the tone at all: documentary-style, hand held camera, no soundtrack, and emphasis on realism.
  • I really think if they simply dropped these two elements (a silent shot of the Southland logo with a shot of LA in the background would work just fine, I'd say) the show would be framed much better for what it does best.

    All of that aside, this was a pretty good episode because it showcases the two best characters (John and Ben) at their best. Ben's first day riding solo was particularly engaging and dramatic, running the gamut from single-handedly finding a young Korean girl with Asperger's who had "wandered off" to a brutal confrontation with a celebrity chef-turned-stalker. (The fact that Ben got the bad guy just after he did his worst says a lot about the direction and integrity of the show.)

    The Rene (Amaury Nolasco) and Lydia (Regina King) pairing is growing on me as well. Rene brings some humor and spice into the mix and warms up Lydia, who has been fairly dour and serious in the past.

    The official show recap (below) references Gil Puente (Laz Alonso) working on taking down Trinny Day (Wood Harris, he of highest The Wire fame), but that must have been cut out of this episode late or moved to a different one. Maybe that's why the name of the episode doesn't make a lot of sense to me either (apart from the notion of a submarine that can pop up and cause havoc at any time?), but maybe I missed a small detail.

    Video: Southland, "U-Boat"
    Here's the episode recap, from TNT:

    Recap: Southland, "U-Boat"
    Ben winds up in a patrol unit alone for the first time. Among the cases he has to handle on his own are a missing girl and a suspected stalking case. Lydia and Rene spend the day checking in on and helping out Brianna and her baby. Over in Gangs, Gil Puente leads the task force to take down ex-banger Trinny Day, but Sal and Sammy have a hard time working with Puente. While patrolling with John, it is clear that Chickie has no command presence, but she is determined to work harder and become a good cop again.

    From Around the Web: Southland, "U-Boat"

  • The Graveyard Shift : There’s not a more exciting day for a rookie than the day when they’re finally allowed to set out on their own. They gladly allow their training officers to nudge them from their nests, sending them out to meet the day, wide-eyed and anxious to save the world. Everything looks different to them that day. The sun is brighter. The sirens are louder. And cockiness is at its peak.
  • By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

    About the author

    Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at]-tvgeekarmy.com 

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