Thursday, March 28, 2013

SouthLAnd S5E7 "Heroes" review

Comedic, dramatic, raw. SouthLAnd season five delivers what it promised. We are getting to the very soul of our characters. 

With a heartfelt script by Heather Zuhlke and sterling direction by J. Michael Muro, we see why the title of the episode was "Heroes," each character in their own way, in their own minds acting heroically. 

It was refreshing to see Lydia and Terrell making attempts at co-parenting. And Lydia finally having a picture of Christopher on her desk at work. As she and Ruben investigate the murder of a John Doe dead body, it's the first time we've seen the duo be snippy with one another over how an investigation should proceed. Lydia sticking with procedure ("I'm gonna go over here and check this haystack"); Ruben seeming apathetic at their futile attempts. Lydia's heroism is she does not break on the outside. Ever. Despite all odds against her. 

This week we got "good" Ben for the most part. He had moments of levity ("Chuck Norris likes his meat so rare he eats unicorns"), talked down a jumper from a bridge, had some funny remarks about a retiring hooker and was not as obnoxious to Sammy. The affair with Elena cannot possibly end well even though he did seem to put her brother in his place concerning them.  Ben's heroism is he is capable of doing whatever it takes to be an excellent cop; the dark side of life just seems to be a strong lure for him.

Sammy's guilt over lying about the tape (and I think subtlety over his divorce from Tammi and perhaps his fears he is not a good enough father to Nate) is consuming him.  It took the hooker's retirement party speech for him to have a complete revelation. As he's talking to Nate later about biting other kids at school, he says, "You can't lie. Good boys don't lie." This cannot end well either. Sammy's heroism is he is determined to do the right thing. It's much easier to let the wrong thing that got you out of trouble continue. The courage comes when you stand up and try to correct it. 

I loved Dewey's daughter Rae Ann joining the force and having to pull a shift with him. I also loved the insights into Dewey as a dad. Dewey's heroism is he has always been a good cop... when he was sober. C. Thomas Howell plays Dewey to perfection; whether it be the boisterous, totally un-PC Dewey or the more serious one who truly wants to do his job and carries the weight of it so deeply in his heart.  

The absolute soul and hero of this episode was John Cooper. I've run out of adjectives to describe how superlative Michael Cudlitz is as an actor. He had good company this week in guest star Gerald McRaney. Coop, unlike Sammy, doesn't have to feel guilty about doing the right thing. He always does. Always. Continual heroism. For example, I'm confident the only reason Coop went to visit his dying father in prison was so the church his dad offered money to if he visited would get that donation. I think Coop had resolved within himself his "issues" with his dad at the parole board hearing back in season three. 

Coop's father did manage to get in one final insult during their visit, clearly not wanting to make peace with Coop but to get in one last verbal blow to the son who ensured he would die in prison. What Coop whispers to his father before he left his room was unheard by the audience; as it should have been. SouthLAnd is noted for what is left unsaid and this moment was far too private and intimate to be shared with anyone besides the participants. 

The apex of the episode was at the end, where Coop and his former TO Hicks (McRaney) finally talk, this after a day of Hicks being forcibly cuffed at Cooper's home to ensure he would sober up and not try again to eat his gun. McRaney is in his underwear and his performance is stripped down as well; raw, honest, reflecting on a declining life after retirement. "I don't know how I got here...this isn't how it's supposed to be" he tells Coop, "I was good once, wasn't I?" Coop shares an incident when he was a P2 where he and his partner were so scared until Hicks rolled up. Coop says, "When I saw you, I knew I was gonna be were a god to me." Coop couldn't save his biological dad from his demons and the harm they inflicted on his life but he will do everything within his power to save his surrogate dad from his. This scene was brilliant and practically Shakespearean. Thank you Michael, Gerald, Heather and Jimmy for this gift to us. 

SouthLAnd is brilliance all around. Flawless from the camera crew to the producers and everyone in between. It truly is a unique drama.

Three more episodes in season five. Watch and bask in its luminosity. Wednesdays, 10/9C. TNT.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SouthLAnd Earns Prestigious Peabody Award

"The Peabody Awards, which are in their 72nd year, honor excellence in electronic media, and thus documentaries, news reports, radio shows, scripted programs and Web sites are all included in this year's list of winners. The Peabody Awards ceremony will be held May 20 in New York, and CBS News' Scott Pelley will host."

 (Picture from Monte Carlo TV Festival, June 2012)

Entire article below:

Monday, March 25, 2013

SouthLAnd S5E6 Bleed Out

John Cooper has learned, in the streets of Los Angeles, a single step can separate life and death.

And once again we’re treated with an anvil to the head with Lydia’s storyline.  At the beginning of the show she has Christopher sleeping in the bed with her and guess what case she and Ruben are working.  A co-sleeping/SIDS investigation.  Sigh.  However, it was nice to see the respectful interaction between Lydia and Dewey.  Since the last time we saw them interact, she smashed his face.

Dewey is very calm and subdued in this episode.  Having a heart attack must have woken him up to his own mortality.  It won’t last.

Sammy has never been the smartest guy,  He lets his emotions rule and get him into trouble.  We’ve seen that behavior over and over.  So it comes as no surprise that he kept the camcorder, but told IA he threw it in the street.  He lets himself get worked up over the whole situation, then is unable to let it go to do his job.  And he brings Ben along with him (although Ben is fairly willing).  That tape is going to come back to haunt Sammy.  The lie about it will get him in trouble.  Cooper warned Ben about it in the pilot episode, “You don’t lie.  Lying is worse than an out-of-policy shooting.”

Ben is behaving in his usual slutty way.  Taking a shower with and promising Annie to go to dinner with her and her friends; then taking a shower with Carmen and hanging around with her in the evening instead.

John Cooper is everywhere in this episode.

First we see him and Lucero assisting another pair of cops with a suspect.  The suspect is being put in the back seat of the patrol car as Cooper and Lucero roll up.  The other pair of cops appear to be an FTO with a boot.  As everyone stands around talking about the incident, a shot is fired between all the cops, shattering a window.  Turns out the boot didn’t do a thorough search of the suspect.  Cooper gives the boot his trademark laser death ray glare.

Cooper and Lucero roll up to a scene where a naked man is yelling from where he’s been locked out on an apartment balcony.  They go to the apartment and a woman in very little clothes answers the door.  Cooper asks her to cover herself and she replies, “Why don’t you cover me, General Cooper?”  It turns out that their was a little S&M incident and while the guy was consensual for the sex, he wasn’t so much for the S&M play.  Cooper cuffs her (Your cuffs or mine?) to take her in and she finds this titillating.

Next Cooper comforts a woman who has been dragged beneath a bus.  He talks to her, calms her, and stays with her (“I’m not going anywhere”) until she is pulled from under the bus by paramedics.  Then he checks on her by phone later in the episode.

Cooper and Lucero confront a bloody man with a knife.  He’s walking around the backyard, sometimes walking toward them, sometimes backing off.  But he doesn’t drop the knife.  A young boy rides up on a bike, shouting, ‘Don’t hurt Mr Daniels!” and tries to prevent Cooper from shooting.  The appearance of the boy evidently calms the man as he drops the knife and gets on his knees as directed.

Cooper goes to Hicks’ boat and after searching, finds Hicks below deck on the john, very drunk.  Cooper helps him to bed and Hicks confesses that he almost ate his gun for dinner.  How do you respond to something like that?  And how do you leave him alone?  Cooper sits on the stairs, waiting.

I think Hicks is going to manage to kill himself.  That’s just one more thing Cooper will have to deal with this season.

Well, I just realized what a grim episode this was, despite it having a few laughs.

Fuck, this hurts, I won’t lie
Doesn’t matter how hard I try
Half the words don’t mean a thing
And I know that I won’t be satisfied
So I try ignoring him
Make it a dirt dance floor again
Say your prayers and stomp it out
When they bring that chorus in
I bleed it out, digging deeper just to throw it away
I bleed it out, digging deeper just to throw it away
I bleed it out, digging deeper just to throw it away
Just to throw it away, just to throw it away

- Linkin Park


Thursday, March 21, 2013

SouthLAnd article in TV Guide March 25 issue

Two page spread on SouthLAnd in TV Guide. We are happy to see the press for the show!

Page one

Page two

Friday, March 15, 2013

SouthLAnd S5E5 "Off Duty" review

Before I even begin this review, I am going to assume you have seen the episode. If you have not, please do so immediately. In my opinion, it is one of the top 10 episodes of the 38 that have been shown. That being stated, this reviewer is only going to offer my observations on each character, some of the actors plus some random musings. This episode is so brilliant, my mere words cannot do it justice. Plus, I want you to interpret the episode in your own way; mull it over, watch it repeatedly. 

"Off Duty"

They are lonely. 

Lydia is trying to convince herself she's still seeking evidence from a serial killer she helped convict when in reality it is easier for her to connect with him personally and more intimately than with the people in her own life. 

Ben Sherman. Two seasons now of indiscriminate sex and good, supportive Ben versus bad, whatever is to my advantage Ben. Grow up, Ben. Decide if you are going to be the fully realized competent cop that we all know you are capable of being or if you are going to continue to connive, be green with envy and just do the job well when it suits you. The detective position might work. And get a stable person in your life. 

John Cooper is a lion in winter. Middle age brings reflection on all aspects of any person's life. He is there. Michael Cudlitz as John Cooper is a superstar. He truly is the most underrated actor on television. Nuances, pathos, words not said. Mute the sound and just WATCH him. Feel that emotion? Enough said. Kudos. Always.

Sammy's life is so complicated. We can clearly see all he wants is to do his job and be a good dad. Often the two collide. Shawn Hatosy gave his best performance of the season in the rooftop scene. He always deserves a second look in any scene to see what you might have missed from him.

Dewey. From kale cleanse to heart attack. Coop saves him yet again. Notice the reference to how Coop originally hurt his back. And Dewey knows Coop is gay but, as with all good friends, it really doesn't matter. 

Random musings:

1) Zach Whedon wrote a beautifully crafted script that contained more dialogue than the "usual" SouthLAnd script. 

2) The Cooper/Sherman "reunion" seemed to disappoint many fans. I don't see how it could have played out any other way.

3) The gorgeous Mrs. Peewee Piemonte (Julie Michaels) was the stunt woman who the shooter pulled out of the car in the opening scene. The stunt work is truly amazing in every episode.

4) Director of Photography Dana Gonzales? Perfection.

5) Regina King's SouthLAnd directorial debut. She knocked it out of the park. Every scene from the shootout in the beginning of the episode, to the car chase, to Coop running in the alley, to the extended close-up of her speaking with the serial killer about to meet his death was nothing less than visually and emotionally stunning with razor sharp editing. Five plus stars to Ms. King. 

SouthLAnd. Season five. Wednesdays, 10/9C on TNT. Most excellent season yet.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

SouthLAnd "Off Duty" surprises

Every SouthLAnd episode is surprising but, episode five offers the viewer a few unique experiences.

1) The episode is directed by Regina King. Not her first directing job but the first by a cast member.

2) Shawn Hatosy's wife, Kelly Albanese, will be making an appearance.

(Photo by Shawn)

3) Julie Michaels, wife of SouthLAnd's Emmy winning stunt coordinator Peewee Piemonte, will also be making an appearance. 

4) We'll have our first appearance by actress Roxana Brusso (Det. Alicia Fernandez) this season.

5) For the first time since season four, episode one, there will be a scene between Officer John Cooper and Officer Ben Sherman, his former boot.

6) Dorian Missick (Det. Ruben Robinson) @tailwindturner will be live tweeting during the episode.

Also, check back Wednesday with us at Twitter and Facebook where we'll share an exclusive BTS video. Enjoy the show!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

SouthLAnd S5E4 "Under the Big Top" Review

They say that working for the LAPD is a ticket to the greatest show on earth.  But it isn’t always easy to get to the front row.

Cooper is showing off a smokin’ body this week.  He also sees himself in a couple of the suspects he interacts with.  First, with the man who shot himself due to the quietness of his house after his wife left.  Then, to the man who had discovered that shooting out windows with a sling shot made him feel again.

At least we didn’t have to deal with Tammy this week.  Just Sammy trying to find the money to make his house safe for his son.  So did he actually take the money from the bank robbery scene, or was that misdirection and he actually got that money elsewhere?

Lydia meets Terrell and they hug like Janilla and Marquise in the first season - trying not to touch bodies. According to Terrell, he’s been in love with Lydia his whole life.  But he was unable to be faithful to her.  And Lydia, despite having been cheated on; has slept with him while he was married, got pregnant, and is raising their son.  People just love to fuck up their lives, don’t they?  Lydia thought that they had an agreement that she would raise the boy; but now that Terrell is getting a divorce he wants to be involved in his son’s life.

At roll call we learn that there’s been several acts of vandalism in the area.  And that there is a guy dry-humping people in the Graumann’s Theater area.  Dewey says that’s called frotteur.  The other officers scoff at Dewey and laugh.  But Dewey’s adamant that that is what it is called.  Somehow, I think Dewey knows what a lot of deviant behavior is called.

Frotteur:  a person who derives sexual pleasure or gratification from rubbing, especially the genitals, against another person, usually in a crowd. 

Cooper and Lucero go to an ADW call and discover it’s someone butchering a goat in the bathtub.  Afterwards, they are parked at the side of the road and Lucero is try-y-y-ying to get Cooper to taste what Lucero’s eating.  Cooper admits that the scene of the butchering has made him nauseated.  “Where do you think meat comes from?” Lucero asks.  Somewhat exasperated, Cooper responds,  “Supermarket.  In a styrofoam tray, wrapped in plastic.”  Heh.  I think a lot of us feel that way.  

Dewey, Cooper, and Lucero do a welfare check at the house of someone who makes mannequins and other body parts.  They investigate the place like 3 seven year-olds.  How cool is this?  Look at that.  Feel this.  Don’t touch that.  Ha!

Cooper and Lucero see a man and a woman fighting.  Turns out it’s a pimp (played by Patrick Swayze’s brother, Don) and his ho.  Cooper turns the search in to a game show, asking Lucero to guess what he’ll find in his search of the pimp.  Lucero’s guess is rewarded with household appliances and a trip to Puerto Rico.

Lydia and Ruben investigate the possible murder of the owner of the mannequins.  It looks like someone cut up his body and dumped him in a vat.  I assume there were chemicals in the vat as everyone was wearing protective gear and masks.  But it turns out the owner is not dead.  He had debts and drug dealers after him, so he decided to fake his own death.  He just didn’t count on his ditzy girlfriend turning him in.

There’s a theme with classic Mustangs this week.  Sammy and Ben talk to a kid who didn’t have the money to pay his meal at a restaurant.  Ben and the kid try to top each other’s knowledge of Mustangs.  Then the guy who tried to commit suicide and failed.  Twice.  One of the ways he tried was with a classic Mustang running in a closed garage.

Ben and Sammy chase some bank robbers through the streets.  The robbers start throwing money out of their SUV; forcing Ben and Sammy to slow way down due to all the people running into the streets to grab the money,  After chasing one of the robbers onto a subway train, Ben fights with the robber and finally subdues him.  He then wearily sits down and everyone just stares at him.  Well, everyone except the woman who warily comes down the aisle to get the money on the floor in front of Ben.  I wish he  had jumped and said, “Boo!” to the woman.  She would have probably peed her pants.

I have to say I love how Ruben interacts with Lydia.  He tells her what he thinks and tells her she doesn’t have to listen to him.  He doesn’t say it in a condescending or know-it-all manner.  He just lays it out there and she can do whatever she wants with his opinion.

So Coop sets up a row of empty bottles.  That he has several available is very telling.  With the slingshot, he aims, shoots, and shatters a bottle.  Which startles a laugh out of him.  And he thinks about the guy he took the slingshot from and realizes he got some feeling from doing that just like the suspect did.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

SouthLAnd S5E3 "Babel" review


Genesis 11:9 " That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world..."

In episode three, the breakdown of the LAPD dispatch system adds to the confusion that already exists for law enforcement in the City of Angels: over four million people speaking 100 different languages. 

This episode was owned by J. Michael Muro (epi director and DP), Shawn Hatosy and guest star Emily Bergl. More on why later in the review.

Lydia seems to be moving on quickly from her mother's untimely death; already packing up her mom's things and not missing a step at work. She and Ruben investigate the murder of a young man, the third son lost to a single mom...two of them drug related. Regina King has never given a bad performance - even the brief scene in the restroom where she talks on the phone to her son's father (Terrell) and later the encounter with Terrell's wife, we FEEL her pain and frustration. She is a flawless actress. It is heartening to see Lydia finally trying to bond with her son, Christopher. After the murder investigation of the episode, I think the realization that he is the only family she has left, the fact he is her very own flesh and blood and just how important it is to connect, has finally sunk in. 

Ben seemed less arrogant and more compassionate this episode; a trend I hope that continues. He seemed to delight in the puppet "Stranger Danger" presentation to the elementary school children and seemed less annoyed with Sammy discussing his on-going woes with ex-wife Tammi. He, of all the characters, got to understand most intensely the "babel" and confusion in dealing with a multicultural population after the shooting and aftermath at the community center.

Cooper stops being an FTO ("I'm sick of hearing my own voice" he tells Sgt. Hill) and is riding now with a senior partner Henry "Hank" Lucero. They encounter several "babel" situations. An elderly lady assaults a skateboarder after he bumps into her, calling him a "schvartzer" (German for black, more commonly used in the United States as a substitute for the word nigger according to the Urban Dictionary).  A car crashes into a Filipino restaurant, the driver somehow clearly intoxicated and we have the beginnings of a "Dixie Cup Conspiracy" (per @RonnisTweets at Twitter). The driver babels scripture & the Filipino owner blames the mysterious "white lady." Later, we see gang members urinating on a deaf man; his babel being sign language. An erratic driver is stopped by Coop & Lucero; he is also a Dixie Cup conspiracy victim and his babel is Spanish...fortunately, Lucero can communicate. The Dixie Cup conspirator is a kid selling lemonade garnished with datura, a plant which leads people to hallucinate. Coop recognizes the flower later leading to Lucero's "Are you a closeted botanist?" comment. And their day continues. 

Dewey's boot literally gets clothes lined in pursuit of notorious gangster "Road Runner," his patrol car gets a graffiti job in the hood, and you can tell Dewey is old school and longs for a return to those times. Coop & Lucero catch Road Runner in a traffic stop, much to Dewey's delight ("I'm Officer Wile E. Coyote and we're going to fry your road runner ass"). And I don't think Coop ever got the "Bofa Deez Nuts" joke. 

Sammy and Tammi have a violent encounter when Tammi fails to bring Nate to Sammy at the appointed time. Sammy stops by Victor's (Tammi's boyfriend's) apartment to confront her. Sammy and Tammi have always had a passionate, tumultuous relationship, both in marriage and divorce. This scene, played to perfection by Shawn and Emily, is in my opinion one of the rawest scenes ever shown on SouthLAnd...and there have been many. Her craziness & paranoia and his desperation & anger were palpable through the screen. Brilliant, powerful scene. Kudos to both actors.

The ultimate star of every SouthLAnd episode he directs is J. Michael Muro. His use of lighting, framing and sound is genius. He's not afraid to shoot from odd or unusual angles (always capturing the gritty beauty of Los Angeles in the southland), put the camera in the actor's faces, capture every sound needed for the scene (Ben & Sammy's heightened breathing during the entrance into the community center) and he never abandons the run & gun documentary style of shooting that is off the hook for episodic television. 

Random musings:

1) Beautiful scene with Coop and his former FTO Hicks (guest star Gerald McRaney). I hope to see more of Hicks and how the always exemplary Michael Cudlitz plays out Coop's reflection on his career and life. 

2) The attention to police detail could not be missed during this episode, even by the most casual viewer. Coop keeps his hand on the door while questioning Road Runner at the traffic stop; Lucero tells Coop in that same scene, "I can't see his hands." Another example is Ben touching the back of Sammy's leg to let him know exactly where he was and was ready to make entry into the community center. 

3) First time we've seen Sgt. Hill in uniform outside the station.

"Everybody here is a witness. Problem is no one can speak English." Babel. Watch it at least twice. 

SouthLAnd. Wednesdays. TNT. 10/9C.