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This cop drama was cancelled too soon, but it nevertheless goes out with a bang on this TV-on-DVD set....
Warner / 1094 Minutes / 2013 / Unrated / Street Date: August 13, 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 Fifth and Final Season set feel like they’re primed to pop right off their vinyl discs: the cop drama in Southland is wonderfully, often unflinchingly alive. Well, at least it was before it went and got itself cancelled.
As was the case with the show’s exceptional past, a lot of Southland’s merit can be tied directly to 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 didn’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 works so well is that it eschews a typical 25+ episode season-long syntax. The Complete Fifth and Final Season here only runs ten episodes, but Southland crams so much suspenseful crime drama into its time frame that it feels far more imperative than it maybe is. In any case, it’s a series only viewed in hindsight now – Southland may not secure a place for itself in the record books of crime drama television, but it’s certainly one of the genre’s better efforts of the last ten years or so.