'Southland' season premiere review: Crime, punishment, and pain

Southland got off to a fine third season last night, reminding us once again that it’s one of the best cop dramas on TV. There was an impeccable mixture of police action and personal interaction on Tuesday night’s season premiere.

Police detectives Lydia Adams (Regina King) and her partner Josie Ochoa (Jenny Gago) were looking for a rapist-murderer; officers Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) and John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) were involved in an officer-down, shoot-out rescue mission; and detectives Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) and Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) searched for a murderer within a Latino community.

In each situation, the seriousness and tension of the case was contrasted with coolheaded police investigatory tactics, and moments of light humor. It was especially enjoyable to watch Lydia Adams’ quiet irritation with her take-charge, we’ll-eat-tacos-for-lunch-not-salad new squad-car partner.

One of the best things the series does is juxtapose life-or-death situations with the most ordinary calls police officers receive, such as, last night, settling a dispute over the price of a doll between an irked customer and a stubborn salesperson. That Cudlitz’s back-pain-racked Cooper was the referee in this squabble made the petty argument all the more amusing, while never letting go of the fact that for some people, the advertised price of an item is worth arguing over. Southland manages to give every character his or her dignity.

Did you watch the season premiere of Southland? What did you think?

Comments (92 total) Add your comment
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  • thecaptan

    best cop show on TV in years, hands down. NBC missed out on a gem with this one. And Cudlitz deserves some recognition for the way he plays Officer Cooper. You can really feel his pain…

    • Jank

      Agree, this show is the best, not one of the best, cop shows on tv, the only flaw is the Regina King character who I just find boring, shows like these should be about the men

      • Josh

        Why should “shows like these” be only about men?

      • Ellen

        Josh – I was wondering the same thing!

      • Snsetblaze

        And I find King to be the most intersting of the characters. I also like the addition of Jenny Gago (who I’ve always liked when I’ve seen her) becuase the show needed more female characters (it never did enough with Officer Chickie Brown – the actress is not even listed in the main credits).

      • Mikeylito


        Oops! Arija Bareikis, the actress who plays Officer Chickie Brown, did appear in the premiere’s credits. She also played a pivotal role in the Season 2 series finale, “Maximum Deployment”.

        In an ensemble cast, every character can’t have a pivotal role in every episode. Just ask Michael McGrady, who didn’t appear in the season premiere.

      • Huh?

        Regina King is great and why should this show be about men? WTF it is 2011!

      • Alex

        Actually, Michael McGrady is no longer listed in the credits.

      • thecaptan

        Regina King’s character is probably the 2nd easiest to relate to because of the way they humanize her…behind Cudlitz of course…I still say the dude deserves a nom for a golden globe…but the 6 characters at the show’s heart are the best. the dynamics are great and it just feels…real.

      • Jan

        It IS the best cop show on TV and she is a big part of the reason.

      • Dippidy doo

        Agree, regina king is boring, no one cares about her relationship issues and it is so annoying how she constantly seems to be angry at someone or frustrated with her partners. The female street cop is good, but regina should go

      • Michelle

        Love how Shawn Hatosy seamlessly goes from playing a serial killer on Dexter to playing a cop on Southland. I’ve been missing 3rd Watch, this helps. Detroit 187 is also AWESOME.

    • Double G

      Best cop show since The Wire. Keep them coming TNT.

  • Dublin

    Loved it. Lydia’s frustration with her new partner and her old partner’s frustration of being stuck as a desk jockey, Ben’s realization that John’s condition needs serious help, Sammy-poor Sammy with his hapless wife. I laughed at the doll scene. I’d feel the same way-if you have the receipt that shows how much you paid for it you should get that back(was the receipt over 30 days old?) Anyways glad to see Southland back!!!

    • Snsetblaze

      That scene bugged me a bit. Even though it was only $3, the sales clerk was clearly in the wrong here (although the customer should not have attacked her). If the store has a policy, and you bring it in with a receipt within the time frame on the receipt, you get what you paid for it, whether or not the item is now on sale. If it were the opposite, the store would not be paying the full price back for an item purchased on sale that was no longer on sale.

  • jfms777

    Wasn’t there talk of the John Cooper character being gay? I had hoped they would develop that; it
    would have been interesting. But I guess his drug addiction has now taken precedence.

    • julie

      they are still developing it. he was shown last season with his partner, they were working on their house. he’s also been shown frequently in a gay bar, i’m assuming the same one from the first season. seems to be where he gets his pills when his scripts run out. it’s definitely not something they have dropped.

    • echo

      John Cooper is definitely gay; the show has acknowledged it and interviews with Michael Cudlitz confirm that there will be more development in this area.
      This is one of the reasons I love this show — the character happens to be gay, but it isn’t the only thing that defines him.

      • julie

        @echo- exactly. like cudlitz has said in interviews, they deal with it like people in real life would. it wasn’t a dropped storyline, there’s just more to this character than him being gay.

      • Sha77

        I hope they don’t bother with the gay thing. Do we really need to see that? They oughta dead the whole red head sally bit as well. Keep it cop focused.

    • Shelly

      Cooper is definitely gay. My sense was that he wasn’t in a relationship right now. He seems lonely.

  • Amy

    Loved the episode, love the show. The writing and acting are stellar. I hate that there will only be 10 episodes, but I will savor each one. I hope more viewers give this show a chance. You definitely won’t regret it!

  • Gata

    I promised that I would add this to my DVR…I will do it now. I watched one episode while it was in re-runs and I liked it.

  • jmcg

    Great episode. I especially loved the bank robbery/shootout scene and Lydia’s irritation with her new partner. I am fascinated with the dysfunction in Sammy and Tammy’s relationship–now he’s apologizing to her? She’s the screwup and now she’s pregnant–she will definitely find a way to mess that up. Everytime I see Tammy I think of that saying, “Can’t turn a whore into a housewife”–She’s not a whore but this definitely applies.

  • BB

    I love this show. I pray we get a few more proper seasons (12 or 13 episodes, not 6 or 10)

  • M

    great show. never disappoint

  • The New Centurion

    As a police officer of nearly 20 years it offers some of the best real-life police drama on TV. In real life this stuff doesn’t come at you at quite the same pace as TV, but they are trying to pack considerable drama into a one-hour cop drama.

  • CCam

    Love this show. Fantastic acting. I especially loved the scene where they were rescuing their fellow officer during the shootout. I couldn’t figure out why they were taking OFF their vests at first, then it made sense!

    • Iffa

      De acuerdo con casi todo, pero no la pondreda en el mismo coastl con Carla Giraldo, la diferencia entre una y otra es que esta faltima no se ha encontrado y afan ni se define sexualmente, mietras que Marbelle sebe de df3nde viene. Por otra parte, yo fui de la que estuve abriendo soho para ver las fotos, y claro que me parecen una risa, y me parece che9vere que Soho haya hecho eso, ased sea por burla como han dicho, me parece ve1lido, que se muestren cuerpos distintos a los de las modelos fame9licas de siempre.PD. Una de las cosas me1s interesantes de la entrevista es que la primera dama le haya montado la boda con royne, jeje.

  • Amy

    Welcome back Southland! Good first episode!

  • UncleWalty

    NBC was SO stupid to let this go. It’s really one of the best things on television right now.

    • Shell

      Well, given the state of NBC right now, maybe it was a blessing. Southland really does feel like a cable show.

  • Julie Cooper-Nichol

    Love Ben McKenzie in this show! His “I’ll be in the car” at the end of the toy store scene was priceless.

    • Lori

      I laughed SO HARD at the expression on his face as he said it. You just knew Cooper was going to LOSE IT!

  • tracy

    welcome back Southland…you were missed.

  • DDB

    I missed the entire second season, but I’m making sure to check this one out. The premiere was excellent. Kudos to the great cast as well, especially Regina King and Michael Cudlitz, both of whom deserve some Emmy love.

    • Ian

      NBC powers that be crying they let this show go and are keeping LOLA which is a bad show!

    • thecaptan

      most definitely, DDB.

      • Bhupinder

        totalmente deacuerdo con lore lo que pasa es que aulangs personas como este sef1or solo le gustan las flacuchentas, las unicas que pueden entrar a un quirofano son las modelitos y presentadoras de television que seguramente se han hecho cualquier cantidad de cirugias pero esto no es con plata directa de su trabajo en el medio no, es con la plata que le han dado los traquetos,,, es que como se nos olvido que la mayoria de las modelitos son prepagos pero a ellas no las criticamos quienm sabe si este sef1or es un resentido con la vida poruqe talvez no ha tenido tanto exito como ella yo no soy ninguna pueblerina y me gusta la musica que canta.. es una mujer de admirar, segurmante el sef1or nacio en cuna de oro y se cree con el derecho de venir a juzgar a los que de verdad les ha tocado joderse para comer . ignorante ( SI NO TIENES NADA BUENO QUE DECIRLE A ALGUIEN MEJOR QUEDATE CALLADO)felicidades marbel.

    • jasonx

      You can watch the 2nd season on DVD or online. Detroit 1-8-7 is as good or better than Southland.

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