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November 26, 2008

Thanks be to 'The Shield'


Double-, triple- and quadruple-crosses, drug dealing, serial killing, snitching, lying, pistol whipping, stealing, thugging -- things to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving eve? Sure, it sounds twisted, but when it's wrapped in a package like "The Shield," it's been seven seasons of TV that we've counted as a genuine basic cable blessing.

Shawn Ryan, take-no-prisoners show creator, we're eternally grateful for you.

And now it's done.


While the series finale is still sinking in -- boy, glad we waited until this morning and didn't watch that right before bedtime last night -- we have to take a moment to join the chorus of praise for this particular season of the cop show that was originally titled "Rampart." That would've hit a little too close to home, apparently, for the Los Angeles police division that's housed more than its share of corrupt cops.

Renamed "The Shield," the FX drama started off with a bang: Michael Chiklis as Vic Mackey shot a fellow cop to death for fear of having his street team exposed for a multitude of dirty deeds. And it just never let up from there, following the ends-justify-the-means Strike Team through tortures, armed robberies, deceit, cheating and all manner of moral bankruptcy.

These guys had no limits, but they sure made a lot of arrests. That made the City Council happy!

The show earned a Golden Globe and Chiklis took a well-deserved Emmy for best actor. But "The Shield" should've racked up more awards for its cojones and its quality, and no doubt needs to be rewarded next time around.

Walton Goggins as the hillbilly mini-me Shane Vandrell, who loyally follows and then dares to challenge Mackey? Please. Somebody nominate that guy for an Emmy already. Jay Karnes as the insightful-yet-doleful detective Dutch Wagenbach? Emmy nod already! CCH Pounder, prior Emmy nominee, as reluctant police commander Claudette Wyms? Do we even have to say it?

Unfortunately, it's intricate and harsh shows like this, a la "The Wire," that rarely get their due from major awards. Too realistic? Is there such a thing?


"The Shield," for all its cringe-inducing violence and unblinking dissection of the unholy marriage between the cops and the criminals, always had a heart and a soul. That's why we watched.

And now it's done.

Unlike the complete cop-out ending of "The Sopranos," "The Shield" let us see what we needed to see -- mainly, Mackey in a prison of his own making, cut off from his family, friends, badge, power, street cred, anything and anyone meaningful to him. But unable to escape. That's the justice.

Brother blogger James Hibberd talks to Ryan about the finale (spoilers!), as does TV Guide, and Entertainment Weekly's Pop Watch advises any fan who hasn't seen the last episode yet to call in sick and waste no more time in getting to the goods.

We're sorry to see it go, but we're completely satisfied with what it gave us. "The Shield" -- we're just afraid we won't see your like again.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

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  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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