The Shield

What’s it about?

In The Shield, uncompromising detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) heads up ‘The Strike Team’, a small, close-knit, anti-gang unit operating within the Los Angeles Police Department’s Farmington Division.

The Strike Team’s tough detectives have hard-fought knowledge and experience of gang culture and street life, and will do whatever is necessary to achieve their goals, whether within the confines of the law or without.

Starring

Michael Chiklis, Walton Goggins, Kenny Johnson, David Rees Snell, Benito Martinez, Glenn Close, CCH Pounder

An Introduction to The Shield

New division captain Aceveda (Benito Martinez) is trying to make a name for himself in advance of his ambitions to stand for Mayor of Los Angeles. The thorn in his side is Mackey and the Strike Team, who are undoubtedly bending the rules but are getting results that others can’t.

On reflection, Aceveda considers that the potential fallout from the Team’s actions could do irreparable harm to his anti-corruption Mayoral aspirations, so he sets out to dismantle them. If only it were that easy!

The Shield revolves around Mackey, his ‘grey area’ dealings and whatever consequences may arise; many are anticipated, while others may have wider implications. While initially he appears to be the familiar, wise-cracking ‘lovable rogue’ type of TV cop, by the end of the first episode you’ll know more of the real Mackey… or do you actually know him at all?

The other members of the Strike Team are longstanding right-hand man Shane (Walton Goggins), point man and team conscience Lem (Kenny Johnson), and reliably level-headed Ronnie (David Rees Snell). They loyally do Mackey’s bidding, get results and do their best to keep a tentative order in the Farmington district. The other cops in the Division are generally wary of them and see them as loose cannons… of course, they’re right.

Summary

The Shield is compelling, edgy and often violent, and “The Farm” district is believably harsh with a genuine sense that spontaneous all-out warfare or anarchy is always just a wrong move away.

Owing to The Shield’s subject matter, comparisons are often made with HBO’s The Wire, although it must be said that each show is a revered classic in its own right. They both arrived at the same time and rewarded an audience ready for a tougher, smarter level of crime drama than had gone before. Whichever show you start with, definitely try the other one straight after – this is some of the finest TV around.

The cast is excellent in The Shield with none of its characters getting an easy ride. Any clear, stereotypical lines between what constitutes a ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’ are almost entirely erased early on, and any judgment the viewer may have formed about a player is regularly tested. Incidentally, fans of biker crime drama, Sons Of Anarchy will recognise some elements and even actors from this world – that’s because Sons’ creator Kurt Sutter was one of The Shield’s writers/producers.
Award
The Shield is no-nonsense, enjoyably exhilarating TV that demands your attention – which will continually be rewarded all the way through to the final pay-off, with an ending that met with long-time fans’ approval. Definite binge-watcher gold!

Check out the Season 1 Trailer here:

Series Information

Originally Transmitted: 2002-2008

Original Network: FX

Number of Complete Seasons: 7

Total Number of Episodes: 88

Minimum Episode Length: 45 minutes

Series Complete - Binge-watcher Time Guide

Watching 2 episodes per day: around 6 weeks to complete

Watching 3 episodes per day: around a month to complete

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