Now on Blu-ray: The Hardboiled Drama of ‘The Shield: The Complete Series’

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The Shield: Complete Series

The Golden Age of Television is populated with anti-heroes. Tony Soprano from The Sopranos and Walter White from Breaking Bad had audiences sometimes rooting for the bad guys in their respective series as these shows embraced moral ambiguity in their high-stakes dramas. But it’s expected that a drug kingpin or a mobster would be bad guys. What was unexpected in television drama is an anti-hero being a member of the police department, but that’s exactly what Vic Mackey was on Shawn Ryan’s classic television show The Shield. The complete series of the Los Angeles crime drama arrives on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment with a comprehensive set containing all seven seasons of the captivating drama and an array of special features.

Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) is head of the division called the Strike Team. They take to the streets battling violent gangs and drug dealers with brute force. However, Mackey and his men don’t play within the confines of the law. They’re crooked. Mackey and his fellow Strike Team members – Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins), Curtis “Lem” Lemansky (Kenny Johnson), and Ronnie Gardocki (David Rees Snell) – play on both sides of the law, working to bust bad guys but also working with some bad guys to line their own pockets. But their extrajudicial tactics don’t go unnoticed, and Mackey and his crew face internal affairs investigations.

Elsewhere in the fictional LAPD division known as Farmington, aka The Farm, are a few good cops. Detective Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder) and Detective Holland “Dutch” Wagenbach (Jay Karnes) are dedicated detectives of unwavering devotion to enforcing the law. Officers Julien Lowe (Michael Jace) and Danielle “Danny” Sofer (Catherine Dent) work tirelessly patrolling the streets but each have their own struggles – Lowe with his desire to keep his homosexuality a secret (something Vic uses as leverage over him) and Sofer with her on-again off-again affair with Vic. There’s also Captain David Aceveda (Benito Martinez) who harbors grand political ambitions, and once he leaves he’s succeeded by Captain Monica Rawling (Glenn Close). In later seasons, Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh (Forest Whitaker) joins the picture as an internal affairs officer investigating Mackey and his Strike Team.

Over the course of Shawn Ryan’s hardboiled drama, allies become enemies and enemies become allies in the morally fraught world of law enforcement in the City of Angels. The Shield is a key turning point in the way television portrayed police officers. Prior to the show, there was little moral ambiguity in shows about cops – they were the good guys protecting the citizens from the bad guys. Inspired by the Rampart Division scandal that rocked the LAPD, Ryan’s show took a more nuanced look at law enforcement in America, one that more closely resembles the difference between ideals and execution; the idea that the line between the law and lawlessness was more ill-defined than anyone would like to admit.

All seven seasons and 89 episodes of the FX drama land on Blu-ray, and once you take a dive into the world of The Shield you quickly discover that it’s an extremely bingeable show. Over the course of those 89 episodes, creator Shawn Ryan assembled an impressive team of writers and directors to work on the hit drama. Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter and former Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara are among the series’ most prolific writers. Episodes of The Shield features such acclaimed directors as D.J. Caruso, Frank Darabont, Craig Brewer, and David Mamet. In front and behind the camera, The Shield was always wielding might that paid dividends to audiences invested in the story.

Mill Creek Entertainment’s release is an 18-disc set that doesn’t skimp on the packaging, giving the set a glossy digibook case complete with liner notes written by creator Shawn Ryan. There are cast reunions and a look at in the writer’s room as the stars and creative team of the show look back on their iconic series. The edition also boasts audio commentaries and deleted scenes. This edition of The Shield: The Complete Series is a must-own for anyone addicted to the corrupt exploits of Vic Mackey and his Strike Team.

The Shield is a landmark series in what is now commonly known as the Golden Age of Television. It pushed the boundaries of the anti-hero further than it had been pushed before. It’s a show that established FX as a premiere network capable of delivering some of the best television amidst stiff competition. Audiences have been trained to root for law enforcement on television since the days of Dragnet, and The Shield flipped those expectations in every conceivable way. Who do you root for when the good guys turn out to be so bad?

The Shield: Complete Series
  • Overall Score
5

Summary

The classic crime show The Shield lands on Blu-ray with an 18-disc set that features 89 episodes of the corrupt cop drama with a ton of special features, deluxe packaging, and an anti-hero for the ages in Michael Chiklis’ Vic Mackey.

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