Last fall, following NBC's surprising and unexpected cancellation of its series Southland before airing any episodes of the second season, fans were delighted to learn that TNT had picked up the crime drama. The announcement stated that TNT had subsequently obtained exclusive rights to air all six episodes that had been shot for the second season, as well as the seven episodes from the series’ first season.
Tomorrow, Tuesday January 12th, TNT begins airing the series with an extended version of the pilot, commercial-free, at 10 PM (ET/PT). The second season episodes begin airing on Tuesday, March 2nd.
Unlike many other dramas set in the world of law enforcement, Southland places its primary focus on officers, detectives and a gang unit, whose cases sometimes intertwine, showing the tough job they face and the triumphs and tragedies that populate their personal lives. The series is shot on location in the streets and neighborhoods of Los Angeles, creating a realistic, natural environment where similar situations often occur in real life.
In the seven previously-aired episodes, veteran, no-nonsense cop John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) is assigned to train young rookie Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie). Sherman quickly learns that on-the-job training is nothing like his preparation at the Academy. Among their fellow patrol officers is Chickie Brown (Arija Bareikis), who is determined to make her mark as the first woman in the elite SWAT unit.
The series also features Lydia Adams (Regina King) as a sharp detective, who spent two years in a gang unit before transferring to the homicide division where she works with her partner Detective Russell Clarke (Tom Everett Scott), who is struggling with an unhappy marriage and a difficult living situation. Detective Daniel “Sal” Salinger (Michael McGrady) oversees the gang unit and his detectives include former Army private and father of three, Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro), and Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy), a former stoner who turned his life around but has an unpredictable wife.
In the new episodes beginning nexts month, the tables turn in the power struggle between Ben and John when Ben must face a difficult choice in dealing with his partner’s addiction to pain medication, without which he could no longer work in the field. Ben is unable to escape his troubled Beverly Hills background and he gets personally involved in a case on his first solo day on patrol. And following public humiliation by her partner, Chickie makes an effort to regain her confidence and footing in the field despite being ostracized by other cops.
We had the pleasure of watching the extended pilot (courtesy of TNT), and were immediately drawn into the drama. There's an edgy feel to the show, figuratively and literally, through its visuals and editing. The large ensemble cast is introduced in a manner that gives viewers a chance to begin to understand their interpersonal relationships, but doesn't overwhelm, generally focusing on a single character (Ben Sherman) in the pilot. The show's high production values are an added bonus, comparable in quality to many theatrical films.
We're looking forward to watching the entire series on TNT and will have another update on the series before its second season premiere in early March.
Watch a preview for the series below:
In related news, the first season of Southland will be available on DVD January 26th.
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