"Southland" Keeps Alive the "NYPD Blue" Tradition

"Southland" is the cop show you've been missing. It's the one aimed at the fans of "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue." The amazing fact is the show was on network television and got canceled. Then it got picked up by TNT which reran the entire first season plus the episodes from that season that hadn't aired. Now it is coming back with totally new episodes to a fan base that has been clamoring for more.

Ben McKenzie of "The OC" fame is the "star" of the series but in truth it is an ensemble show all the way. McKenzie plays rookie cop Ben Sherman who is partnered with John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz). Cooper has a bad back and it is getting worse. He is running through his pain medication at a rapid pace and this may be caused by addiction rather than pain.

The relationship between these two men has grown over the course of the show. Sherman is now looking out for Cooper rather than vice versa. Cooper is still the man with more experience but Sherman is adjusting to life on the streets quickly. Watching the evolution of this partnership makes for good viewing.

Another outstanding member of the cast is Regina King. She plays Detective Lydia Adams and in the past was partnered with Russell Clarke (Tom Everett Scott). Clarke was shot last season and the rumor was that Scott would not be returning to the show. Well the new season has arrived and Scott is still listed as a member of the cast - and that's good news.

Shawn Hatosy plays Detective Sammy Bryant who is partnered with Detective Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro). Sammy is married to Tammi (Emily Bergl) and they have a rocky relationship. Since the last season of "Southland" ended Bergl has been appearing on "Desperate Housewives." Her visibility there may help bring some new viewers to "Southland."

The beauty of "Southland" is its ability to carry three or four storylines in its one hour format and have them all appear as a total unit when it is over. Although the different stories may have no relationship with each other, the cast of characters make them entwine.

This series is basically an action show but it is also a character study of the people of Los Angeles. Since it is shot on location you get an actual feel for the locale and a sense of the essence of the people there.

"Southland" has had a rocky road these past few years but hopefully it is now on the path for continued success. TNT is to be commended for "rescuing" this series. For those who have missed the gritty, street-wise police shows of the past "Southland" is a welcome return to that genre.

"Southland" starts its new season on TNT, Tuesday, January 4 at 10PM. Don't miss a single episode.