Southland : Season 1

  • Network: NBC , TNT
  • Series Premiere Date: Apr 9, 2009
Season #: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 122 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 5 out of 122

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User Reviews

  1. May 20, 2013
    10
    This is the best cop drama show you've never seen. If you're a fan of gritty, realistic takes on crime dramas and like other, more popular shows like The Wire or The Shield, then check this out.

    Southland gets everything right from authenticity, acting, directing/writing to plot & direction. The show was cancelled by NBC after a very short 7 episode season, and thankfully, TNT took a
    This is the best cop drama show you've never seen. If you're a fan of gritty, realistic takes on crime dramas and like other, more popular shows like The Wire or The Shield, then check this out.

    Southland gets everything right from authenticity, acting, directing/writing to plot & direction. The show was cancelled by NBC after a very short 7 episode season, and thankfully, TNT took a gamble and picked it up to offer another 4 seasons. Season 2 is only 6 episodes long (it's basically the 2nd half of season 1) but the others have 10 episodes each. The show has an ensemble cast for the first 2 seasons (again, think 1 season for S1 & S2 combined) as the budget was a lot higher for the show- so we get to see various law enforcement characters at various levels within the LAPD (from street cops to detectives from Homicide & Gangs/Narcotics division). In season 3, we see a gradual reduction of the cast to work around the budget- the nice thing being that all the characters that leave have an explanation and don't just disappear, so it feels natural. The show then shifts focus on our 4 main characters of rookie officer Ben Sherman, veteran FTO John Cooper, homicide Det. Lydia Adams & gangs Det. (and later FTO) Sammy Bryant. These actors sure know how to bring the performances.

    The style of this show is top notch and professional all the way from real-world settings (hardly any sets), accurate street slang, cop speak and perfect pop culture references, and the characters deal with real-world situations like normal human beings, making mistakes, screwing up, paying for some mistakes, and dealing with life as police officers (the grind/dealing with people at their worst).

    I'm disappointed the show got cancelled just on principle alone, but I'm thankful TNT saved this gem from an early death and gave us 4 more seasons of brilliant tv drama. The show's S5 series ending, IMO, is perfect, though many fans were disappointed in the cancellation and felt the show ended with too much suspense and "cliffhanger" ending; basically, they wanted resolution and wanted to see more.

    I personally felt we saw all we needed to see of these characters; could there have been more material? Sure, but I felt it ended how the show started- coming out swinging and fighting- sending a clear message that life is not what you always hope and plan it to be; sh*t happens and hits the fan and we all don't handle or react the way we'd like to think we'd react. Sometimes, heroes are born, other times, villainous actions result. Yes, some of the character's stories are left in limbo, but I feel that it was dome in such a perfect way that we can make our own decisions about where they go from there. I feel that several characters are given the closure and "happy" endings that they deserved, while others, faced adversity or life/death situation as a result of their on-screen actions throughout the series.

    SPOILER:
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    John Cooper is shot in his final scene; many fans want to know what happened to him. Ben Sherman is also left as a broken cop on the path to becoming everything he set out not to be: corrupt, womanizing & breaking the law for his own means (justifying it, in his mind, but wrong nonetheless). I personally feel that we don't need to see what happens to them because we saw everything leading up to these scenes building up to inevitable breaking points. Sherman can go either way from here: go back to being a good cop, by-the-book and caring about those he serves, or he can continue down the dark path of selfishness, pride, egotistical and corruption.
    Cooper has been shot multiple times by police- the end result of a lifetime of pent up aggression, frustration and trauma from divorce, being gay in a machismo career, multiple job injuries, drug addiction/alcohol, son of criminal father (murderer who never expressed love for John), a wife who didn't want to reconnect or have a baby, seeing his FTO being suicidal/depressed and wanting to eat his own gun since there's "nothing left" after retirement, etc., etc.

    John & Ben's story arcs are tragic character arcs (John's way more than Ben's) that played out naturally, leaving people feeling uncomfortable.

    Give this show a chance and go into with the knowledge that this is what cops deal with; this is how the streets are. This is how life is for some. I really enjoyed it and it's one of my favorite tv shows- up there with Breaking Bad, The Shield, The Wire, Sons of Anarchy, Dexter and now Hannibal.

    This has some serious drama and shocking, jaw-dropping moments. More so than any other show I've seen because it's so realistic.
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  2. Feb 15, 2013
    9
    Southland is one of the more interesting and visceral shows on TV. Centered on the struggles of law enforcement, the show's strength is in the violent realism and believable set pieces. The actors are all passable and I appreciate the difficult situations the writers put them in. The shaky camera style of the show is a plus and a minus, but it does a good job conveying the gritty nature ofSouthland is one of the more interesting and visceral shows on TV. Centered on the struggles of law enforcement, the show's strength is in the violent realism and believable set pieces. The actors are all passable and I appreciate the difficult situations the writers put them in. The shaky camera style of the show is a plus and a minus, but it does a good job conveying the gritty nature of the story. I also like that the show attempts to be unpredictable and doesn't shy away from controversy. There is a level of commitment however, but the season long storyline arcs keep me interested and awaiting the next episode. Southland's commitment to surprising its viewers has made it one of the few shows currently on TV that I look forward to watching. Expand
  3. Feb 14, 2013
    9
    The best Cop show on TV. Gritty, characters you care about, moral dilemas around every corner, with South Central Los Angeles as the artist' canvas. A GREAT show.
  4. Sep 18, 2012
    8
    Not the instant satisfaction I got from the shield but over time it wore off on me and now I think the show is great. Not the instant satisfaction I got from the shield but over time it wore off on me and now I think the show is great.
  5. Mar 21, 2012
    9
    I've watched every episode the first time it aired since the pilot and this is my favorite cop show after The Shield ended. I was heartbroken when it was axed from NBC, so THANK YOU TNT for seeing its potential and resurrecting it.

    While it's in the same vein as dozens of other cop dramas, the writers have managed to keep the plot fairly fresh and somewhat unpredictable. I just watched
    I've watched every episode the first time it aired since the pilot and this is my favorite cop show after The Shield ended. I was heartbroken when it was axed from NBC, so THANK YOU TNT for seeing its potential and resurrecting it.

    While it's in the same vein as dozens of other cop dramas, the writers have managed to keep the plot fairly fresh and somewhat unpredictable. I just watched the season 4 finale and cannot wait for season 5 to begin, whenever that'll be.
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  6. Jan 18, 2012
    10
    Thank goodness they still have good dramas on TV, I think this is a compelling, engrossing and continues to give us insight into the characters lives and what makes them interesting to watch.
  7. Mar 11, 2011
    10
    Southland is such a good show. The show is always interesting and continues to keep me tuning in for more. The characters are very interesting and they have had some wild surprises. I don't know how anyone could call Southland a horrible show when it the exact opposite. I couldn't believe it when NBC cancelled but I am hoping that TNT continues to bring us more Southland.
  8. Feb 11, 2011
    8
    I do think the stories involving the street cops are more compelling. Regina King is fantastic as Lydia though, and C. Thomas Howell is very good in a small sporadic role as an alcoholic cop. I think the constant changing of Lydia's partners has been hard to follow. Overall, this is a well-written gritty drama with good actors and the sexy. personable Regina King.
  9. Sep 13, 2010
    8
    I can't help comparing Southland to The Shield - perhaps because of the LA setting. Certainly, the show doesn't shy away from a tough representation of the LAPD, though it doesn't make corruption its central theme like The Shield did.

    In fact the one complaint I might level againt the show is the lack of a central story. The characters do evolve a little over the course of the series
    I can't help comparing Southland to The Shield - perhaps because of the LA setting. Certainly, the show doesn't shy away from a tough representation of the LAPD, though it doesn't make corruption its central theme like The Shield did.

    In fact the one complaint I might level againt the show is the lack of a central story. The characters do evolve a little over the course of the series but the show never really carries a thread to full completion, and it sometimes feels like it's showing random snippets from different characters - more "a day in the life..." rather than "the story off...". However, because of this the show also has a pretty unique style, and over the 12 episodes it works really well.
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  10. JohnS
    Jan 19, 2010
    10
    Outstanding show, its refreshing to see such a gritty show on primetime TV, have to hand it to the crew they did an AMAZING job, its too bad the network canned it before it could even really get going, lets hope it gets a second chance on TNT
  11. CoreyW
    Jan 13, 2010
    9
    This show has the potential to be the next big thing on tv. The show isn't about solving the crime, so much, but it's about the people who serve for the LAPD. It shows a day in the life of an officer in L.A. and the characters are allowed to be themselves; not stock police characters.
  12. DanaP
    Jan 12, 2010
    9
    Great show. Pretty realistic, although I can understand why some don't care for it. Unless you have worked in that type of enviroment its hard to understand the crude humor. Hope Southland sticks around!!
  13. NoahF
    Nov 26, 2009
    10
    Best new show. I can;t believe it got canceled. T.V. is starting to suck again. I think I just won't watch it. Bring Southland back! To me this is like Law and Order or CSI but more realistic. Which only makes it come across graphic and unafraid. Some of the scenes I felt like I almost couldn't watch. It was great!
  14. SallyH.
    Sep 7, 2009
    8
    I like the show very much. Feels real to me. Would like to know in the opening montage who is the man who looks like a police chief and who is the dark, brooding-looking man who looks like a serial killer? It's driving me nuts not to be able to identify them.
  15. GwennethS
    Jun 6, 2009
    9
    Best cop show out there. Gritty, fast moving, well acted, written and directed. Reality shows are akin to a blight. Cheap to make, with an appeal to the voyeurs out there. Give me exciting, intriguing drama with excellent character portrayal any day. Southlands nails it...A-1...solid entertainment. Long may it survive. "The Unusuals" is a winner too but in a class of its own. Can't Best cop show out there. Gritty, fast moving, well acted, written and directed. Reality shows are akin to a blight. Cheap to make, with an appeal to the voyeurs out there. Give me exciting, intriguing drama with excellent character portrayal any day. Southlands nails it...A-1...solid entertainment. Long may it survive. "The Unusuals" is a winner too but in a class of its own. Can't compare the two...an apples and oranges thing. I enjoy both for different reasons. Definite keepers. Collapse
  16. BillyD
    May 24, 2009
    10
    This is one of the best new shows I've seen in a long time. There are a lot of cop dramas out there, but this one is done right. I've been hooked since the pilot.
  17. ElliotS
    May 21, 2009
    9
    I like the look of the show, I like the characters, it is fairly intelligent, I like the opening montage and I seem to care about what happens to these people. There is a lot of kindness, and I would say a lot of reality, maybe not so much in the crime solving, how would I know? But in the cops lives......but nothing can ever top "The Wire" and tonight's episode did a total "Wire" I like the look of the show, I like the characters, it is fairly intelligent, I like the opening montage and I seem to care about what happens to these people. There is a lot of kindness, and I would say a lot of reality, maybe not so much in the crime solving, how would I know? But in the cops lives......but nothing can ever top "The Wire" and tonight's episode did a total "Wire" rip........when the police received the officer shot call from the people who wanted to kill Janilla.......so totally Randy and Miss Anna. Oh well, imitation is the highest form of flaterry and it's beats "American Idol" et al hands down. Expand
  18. DaveJ
    May 20, 2009
    10
    This show is the uniform partner to NYPD Blue. As a retired police sergeant I can see the real life street situations in this show. It is not for everyone since most of the low votes on here are people that know nothing about law enforcement on the street level. The old saying is 90% of police work is done in 19% of the time. Homicide was great, NYPD Blue was great, Police Story was This show is the uniform partner to NYPD Blue. As a retired police sergeant I can see the real life street situations in this show. It is not for everyone since most of the low votes on here are people that know nothing about law enforcement on the street level. The old saying is 90% of police work is done in 19% of the time. Homicide was great, NYPD Blue was great, Police Story was great, Law & Order was/is below fair and some of the others that I cannot remember are below average. ER was not a real ER because I have worked in a real ER so those who knock Southland probably have never been a cop or worked the streets. This show is realistic and those who say it is not just don't know and have never been there. If you showed police on patrol it would be boring as most shifts are but you do want action and Southland gives you action. COPS is just the interesting part of the shift not the boring part. Expand
  19. MitchG
    May 18, 2009
    9
    With the Shield coming to an end and Sons of Anarchy inbetween seasons, I find that Southland is my current favorite show. Creative ongoing and episodic writing and good performances make for a decent show. The only thing that bugs me to no end is the use of beeping out profanity, While it would be less realistic to leave the language out, the beep reminds me that I'm watching a TV With the Shield coming to an end and Sons of Anarchy inbetween seasons, I find that Southland is my current favorite show. Creative ongoing and episodic writing and good performances make for a decent show. The only thing that bugs me to no end is the use of beeping out profanity, While it would be less realistic to leave the language out, the beep reminds me that I'm watching a TV show and immediately pulls me out of the story. They should just blank out the sound on the "offensive language. Expand
  20. C.S
    May 17, 2009
    10
    Just a great, great show. One of the few I look forward to now week to week.
  21. JMP
    May 16, 2009
    10
    Great show. Hope it's around a long time!
  22. ThomasM
    May 13, 2009
    10
    i think this show is superb when it showcase to police officers. However i cannot watch it when it when its about the midlife crisis lady and the loser writer detective.
  23. MichaelF
    Apr 25, 2009
    9
    I like gritty. It's gritty.
  24. marks
    Apr 14, 2009
    10
    Amazing! super realistic cop show! not the typical "crime happens-solve crime- catch bad guy" this show deals with the day to day emotional aspects of police officers and what they are faced with every day! everything that is said and done by the actors is super realistic! well acted! very realistic! Best cop show in a long time!
  25. SylviaH.
    Apr 13, 2009
    9
    Southland is fast-paced, well acted and emotional. I enjoyed both the characters and the storyline so far.
  26. ShaneD
    Apr 13, 2009
    8
    Fast pace and a little different than the other Cop shows out there.
  27. RonS
    Apr 11, 2009
    10
    not overly original, but very well-executed and a convincing story line thus far.
  28. JoshE
    Apr 11, 2009
    8
    After watching the pilot, I have high hopes for Southland. Well filmed, acted, and written, it looks like a promising change from the current crop of cop and lawyer shows that wallow in procedure. I look forward to the next episode.
  29. MatthewH.
    Apr 10, 2009
    10
    Well rounded, tough minded show. Could be one of the best up and coming drama's on NBC. I believe that is the best Summer Pilot I have seen, unlike many NBC series before.
  30. garthm
    Apr 9, 2009
    8
    This isn't The Wire, but, then again, this is network television. In this first episode I liked the camera work, most of the acting, and most of the dialogue (the "bleeps" are more infuriating than the actual words).The stories in this episode offered few surprises , but they weren't sugarcoated pap. John Wells has a pretty good network TV track record, and I believe this This isn't The Wire, but, then again, this is network television. In this first episode I liked the camera work, most of the acting, and most of the dialogue (the "bleeps" are more infuriating than the actual words).The stories in this episode offered few surprises , but they weren't sugarcoated pap. John Wells has a pretty good network TV track record, and I believe this show,though not his best work, will succeed (8.5), Give this show a chance(at least three viewings) before you read the naysayers. Expand
Metascore
69

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    70
    Wells and company have delivered a cop drama with its own racing pulse, albeit for a network that's uncomfortably close to flatlining.
  2. Prattle is, in any case, a minor note compared with the crackling pace of the first script, its evocative mood of menace at every turn, each police car racing to destinations that will reveal who knows what tragedy or unspeakable sight.
  3. The acting is top-notch, the editing is fast and furious and the photography is rich, giving the show a fresh feel. But the first episode never really breaks new ground in cop land.