A quick review of last night's "Southland" coming up just as soon as I shoot an old lady with a bean bag...
"Underwater" was the flavor of "Southland" I enjoy best: no big story, just a series of anecdotes about the crazy things the cops see and do over the course of one messed-up day. I particularly liked the vignette in the middle where Sherman lost his cool on the woman who was hiding their fugitive suspect, followed by the four uniform cops(*) looking back on their reasons for joining the force compared to their attitude today. Ben's changed an awful lot from the eager, idealistic boot who was riding with Cooper at the start of the series, but it's been a believable and interesting transition.
(*) Though budget cuts forced the show to ditch all but four regular castmembers, John Wells and company have done a good job of building up a good roster of recurring guest stars like Bokeem Woodbine, Lucy Liu and now Carl Lumbly as the hardass new captain. The show could feel underpopulated given the changes, but it really doesn't. And because all these people are guest stars, the writers don't feel obligated to service them with stories the way they did with Sal and Nate and some of the others. They're there to help illustrate things about the four regulars, keeping the focus much tighter.
And one area where the show has never faltered in any incarnation is in depicting action. Even in a largely anecdotal episode about naked joggers, gleeful widowers and senile grandmothers(**), the show easily shifted into gear for Cooper and Tang to wrestle with that giant (each dealing with their own demons about physical confrontations), or the other uniform cops to scramble when Grambo started taking shots at them, or Lydia to wrestle their suspect into the pool. There's a great kinetic energy to the way the show does action that fits very seamlessly with the quieter moments where the cops are bantering in their cars, and that doesn't look (to this civilian eye) like it's Hollywood gloss on how the job works.
(**) Not only was it a "227" reunion between Regina King and Marla Gibbs, but Gibbs kept thinking that Lydia's name was Brenda, which was King's "227" character. Meta-humor: not just for sitcoms!
What did everybody else think?