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Shield - The Complete Second Season, The

Fox // Unrated // January 6, 2004
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jason Gann | posted January 4, 2004 | E-mail the Author

The Cast: Michael Chiklis (Detective Vic Mackey), Catherine Dent (Officer Danielle "Danny" Sofer), Walton Goggins (Detective Shane Vendrell), Michael Jace (Officer Julien Lowe), Kenneth Johnson (Detective Curtis "Lemonhead" Lemansky), Jay Karnes (Detective Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach), Benito Martinez (Captain David Aceveda), CCH Pounder (Detective Claudette Wyms), Brian J. White (Detective Tavon Garris)

The Series: The Shield roared on to the tv screen in 2002 with an edgy, gritty look at a small Los Angeles police precinct in the Farmington district. It received several nominations for Emmy's and Golden Globe awards and took away one of the former and two of the latter. Two of those awards went to Michael Chiklis for his outstanding performance as a hard nosed cop that straddles the line of what is right and wrong. The second season was highly anticipated by everyone and, in my opinion, it is just a strong as the first.

Each episode's focus is spread between intertwining story lines the deal with Detective Mackey, the Strike Team, Detective Wyms and Detective Wagenbach, Patrol Officers Sofer and Lowe and Captain Aceveda. The story line of Vic's family life that first develops in the first season is continued here with plenty of ups and downs to continue it through the entire season as a huge focal point for the character. New stories are introduced when a civilian auditor is placed in the precinct that causes the Captain and Mackey to form a reluctant alliance. Detective Wyms takes a proactive look into Mackey's extracurricular activities that cause a rift between them. The bond that slowly formed between partners Sofer and Lows is threatened when Sofer is investigated for an officer involved shooting. Captain Aceveda continues with his political aspirations. The Strike Team looks to add more to their "Retirement Fund" when they find out about a money train that runs through L.A. In addition to the season long story arcs; creative episode long stories help to keep the momentum going.

The DVD:

The Picture: Don't expect a pristine look for the image on these dvd's, "The Shield" uses a very grainy, hand held 16mm film look to convey the overall feel and tone of the show. The way "The Shield" is shot never gets in the way of enjoying the story and really adds to it by making you feel as if you are watching the action as it happens. There's a voyeuristic feeling when watching this show that has a way of making the emotions much stronger than watching a perfectly set up and shot story. Unlike some of the more recent TV dvd box sets to come out from Fox, " The Shield" keeps the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio for this set. The colors shift from rich and warm to blown out and washed out on purpose to further the tones of the scenes.

The Sound: I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by the absence of a 5.1 track, but the Dolby surround audio that is included, is very good. The Dolby surround audio included in the set has a great full range of sound with rich lows, clear mids and crisp highs forming the overall sounds. The dialogue is out front and easy to hear, so you don't have to play with the remote when things get going on screen. The ambience sounds are what would really benefit from a full digital surround audio track and get the viewer even deeper in the show, but what they've given to us isn't something to shake a stick at. Maybe with the next season's box set Fox will add in the 5.1 mix.

The Menus: Just like the first set, the second season uses static images for the menus. I tend to like the simple menus more than the elaborate ones. When I want to watch a dvd, the last thing I want to do is have to sit through a long menu intro before getting to the selections.

The Insert: This is a short, full color booklet that has a synopsis for each of the 13 episodes, as well as technical information, a cast list, and quotes from the show and reviews.

Special Features: Commentaries, Deleted Scenes, The Editing Room, Sound Surgery, Wrap Day, Raising the Barn, Directors' Roundtable, Season Three Teaser

Commentaries: Unfortunately, the second season set doesn't have commentaries for all of the episodes like the first season. Instead they've included only four with various people involved in making "The Shield" commenting on various aspects of a particular episode or even the entire series in general.

Episode 1: The Quick Fix: Commentary by Shawn Ryan, Michael Chiklis and Benito Martinez. This commentary hits on several subjects including acting preparation and technique, working with different directors, fan questions get answered and many other topics are touched upon during the course of this episode.

Episode 6: Homewrecker: Commentary by Shawn Ryan, Kurt Sutter, Scott Rosenbaum and Kim Clements. This one starts out with a brief story about newbie staff writer, Kim Clements and then delves deeper into the writing process for the group, things they would like to change about certain scripts for this season, spec scripts and many other subjects.

Episode 12: Breakpoint: Commentary by Shawn Ryan, Barbara Fiorentino and Rebecca Mangieri. The main focus of this commentary is the casting for "The Shield". Another brief background story gives information about the casting directors before getting into the casting process, getting into the casting business and advice to actors.

Episode 13: Dominoes Falling: Commentary by Shawn Ryan, Kevin Reilly and Eric Schrier. This commentary deals mainly with the series in general that has a lot of background information about how "The Shield" went through the paces to get accepted by the network.

Deleted Scenes: Thirty-five scenes that were taken out of various episodes mainly for time constraints. A few of the scenes that weren't cut for time have introductions by Shawn Ryan that explain the reason they were cut. Like with other deleted scene features, some of these were easy to see why they were cut.

The Editing Room: Featurette that shows the difference in editing by showing two versions (Editor's cut and Final Air Version) of a scene called "Connie gets shot". Shawn Ryan has an optional commentary available for this feature that gives some good background information on how editing works on " The Shield"

Sound Surgery: Nice featurette that dissects one scene by showing the various stages of sound production. Audio tracks available are; production dialogue, sound effects, ADR, music and composite. Watching this scene in various audio stages really puts the importance of sound in relation to the visual aspect.

Wrap Day: A twenty-seven minute documentary that takes place on the last day of shooting for season two. This one has a great mixture of humor and behind the scenes information that makes it fun and informative to watch.

Raising the Barn: Nine minute short with background information on the set. Kitty Doris-Bates gives a "walk through" of the precinct and explains how it was transformed from a real church to a sound stage set.

Director's Roundtable: Q&A session by Shawn Ryan with "The Shield" directors Peter Horton, Paris Barclay, Scott Brazil. This was a nice addition to the set that showed four guys making fun of each other while talking about several aspects of working on the series.

Season Three Teaser: Short black and white commercial for the third season of "The Shield" on FX.

DVD-ROM Game: I tried this in two different DVD-ROM drives, but never got it to work.

Final Thoughts: "The Shield" is a hard hitting cop drama that really stands out from all the other cop shows that has ever been on tv. It is an extremely well acted and written series that pushes the envelope on a number of levels. This four disc set is a fine example of what a great box set should be. In addition to the episodes from season two, the deleted scenes alone would add up to another, albeit odd, episode in the time category. The featurettes were informative and interesting and even though the commentaries didn't really focus on the individual episode that much, they were also a great source of background information. Sure, there are a few things that I would change, the biggest being the lack of 5.1 surround sound, but the pros of this set really outweigh the cons. The Shield: Complete Second Season is a must have for anyone that loves gritty cop shows with strong writing and acting from everyone involved, so I have to rate this one as a DVD Talk Collector Series title.

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