Originally known as The Barn, The Shield is a gritty police drama which premiered to high ratings for the cable channel F/X. While the show has been compared to NYPD Blue and other police shows, this is a very unique series. Created by Shawn Ryan (Nash Bridges, Angel), this is a story about cops that cross the line to get the job done. Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis - The Commish) is the head of an elite Strike Team unit, a close-knit group of cops that make headlines with their busts, often by bending the rules. When the precinct gets a new captain who doesn't like Vic's tactics, things get a little rough for the team.
I can't thank 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment enough for releasing this to DVD so quickly. When I first heard of this show I marked it down on my "must watch" list, until I realized it was on F/X, a network we don't get here in Canada. Global (a Canadian network) picked the show up to air in September, 2002, but for some reason they weren't airing it in Alberta, my province. I was elated when I read Shawn Ryan's post on the F/X message board that Fox would be bringing the series to DVD on Jan 7, 2003, the premiere of the show's second season. The show is everything I had hoped for.
This show shines in the writing, the directing, and most of all, the acting. There's a reason Michael Chiklis won an Emmy for his portrayal of Vic Mackey; his performance was amazing. If you've seen Chiklis in The Commish (I love that show) then you may be shocked by his Mackey character. Unlike other shows, the storyline really flows from one episode to another. Nothing is really resolved in a single episode, and I enjoyed the ability to sit down and watch the entire season in just a few days.
The video portion of this was tough to rate. The show is filled with noise, some of which is acceptable, but for the most part it's too much. A lot of this has to do with being shot on 16mm (think "Buffy" and "Sex & The City). While indoor and daytime shots have a little noise, it's most apparent during night shots. It appears that the film was too dark so it had to be pushed during the processing in order to lighten the image. Lightening the image causes noise to be present, which makes the image look poor. The final two episodes in the season contain a lot of night shots, and a lot of noise. While this makes for a poor image, it's not the fault of the DVD transfer, although the DVD format may make it more pronounced.
Fox gives us a Dolby Digital Surround track for this release. It's nothing exciting, but is adequate for this release. Center channel is used for dialog and many sound effects while the left and right speakers are occasionally used for sound effects. The rears are usually used for audio, but I was hoping for some front/rear panning effects. Dialog is clear and easy to understand and the amazing mix of music is appropriate. No subtitles are included for the show but it is closed captioned.
Behind the Scenes (21:25)
A behind the scenes look at the show, with cast interviews.
"The Shield" FX Featurette (2:27)
A promotional featurette for the first season, with a brief mention of the second season premiere date.
Well, I assume this is a bunch of still frames of the pilot script, but it didn't work on my Sony DVD player, or the one in my computer. I think this is the first time I've had something on a DVD that didn't work for me.
Each cast member came in to read for their parts, and they taped them all. Michael Chiklis (1:18), Catherine Dent (1:55), Walton Goggins (1:59), Michael Jace (3:11), Kenneth Johnson (2:02), Jay Karnes (2:07), Benito Martinez (1:40) and CCH Pounder (3:39).
17 deleted scenes from the first season episodes, shown in widescreen. These scenes (except for the last) look great...maybe even better than the feature show (less grain is evident).
Each episode has an outstanding commentary track. Most of them are hosted by creator/executive director Shawn Ryan, and he does an excellent job in keeping the commentary on track.
I had high expectations for this show, but I wasn't ready for what I saw in the first season. If all shows were this good I wouldn't leave the house. While I wish the video quality was a little better than it is, it's understandable given that it was shot on 16mm film.
While I can't say this show is for everyone, I'd recommend it to people that love cop shows, great drama, awesome acting, and people that own DVD players (that last one should be all you people). The commentary tracks are the best I've heard for a TV series. People, buy this set so Fox will jump at the chance to release the second season...it's the only way I'll be able to see it. Of course, I'm not being selfish, this is a release that should be added to any collection.