Warner / 1094 Minutes / 2010-2012 / Unrated / Street Date: February 5, 2013
On paper, Southland is perhaps just another cop show, but there’s something about it – it moves. Where institutions like CSI and NCIS are able to deliver relative thrills on a week to week basis, the episodes on this Complete Second, Third, and Fourth Seasons set feel like they’re primed to pop right off their vinyl discs: the cop drama in Southland is wonderfully, often unflinchingly alive.
Not surprisingly, a lot of this has to do with the show’s unique cast. Actors like Regina King and Shawn Hatosy have made careers for themselves portraying silly and/or light TV characters, but in Southland, they get to take their gloves off. Hatosy doesn’t become a true regular until the fourth season of the show, but his wide-eyed youthfulness has a fantastic balance with the often hideous events at hand in the show’s detective dramas, and King’s fragile yet stoic presence is a resolute anchor for the series’ narrative fury.
Perhaps part of the reason Southland: The Complete Second, Third, and Fourth Seasons works so well is that it eschews a typical 25+ episode season-long syntax. The second season here only runs six episodes, but Southland crams so much suspenseful crime drama into its time frame that it feels far more imperative than it maybe is. We have a brand new season kicking in presently – do yourself a favor and pop this box set and its predecessor on your rental queue. It’s totally worth the investment.