Screen Junkies » southland Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Wed, 17 Dec 2014 20:49:34 +0000 en hourly 1 Michael Cudlitz Offers Up ‘Southland’ Spoilers Fri, 07 Jan 2011 16:22:25 +0000 Fred Topel Officer John Cooper says things are gonna get rowdy on Hollywood Blvd.

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Officer John Cooper is my favorite character on “Southland.” I’d like to believe street cops have the common sense to just handle business before it gets out of hand. In the season three premiere, Cooper stops a fight between a convenience store customer and an owner by paying the customer $3 out of his own pocket, the difference the store won’t credit her. Honestly, getting all violent over three dollars?

Michael Cudlitz speaks with the same practical authority on the phone as Cooper does on the streets. He said, “Look, this is the interview I’m doing and I’m telling you all the answers so don’t f*ck with me.” At least that’s how I read him. Cudlitz reflected on the season premiere and looked ahead for us in a phone interview we did before the holidays.

Q: I love John’s practical approach to police work. What’s your take on his attitude?

Michael Cudlitz: I just think he’s a beat cop who’s been doing it a really long time. The books were written by people who weren’t on the streets. The only thing I can sort of equate it to is I’ve spoken to people who have studied what it’s like to be in war and then actually been in war. I’ve spoken to soldiers who talk about that and they say it’s nothing like the way they teach it. So I think there’s sort of a scholastic element to it that does not translate to the actual practical application of it. Law enforcement is full of a lot of gray. It isn’t black and white. John says that but there’s a lot of truth to that. There’s a lot of discretion that can be used when applying the law. Is it the letter of the law on the spirit of the law? That’s left up to interpretation in the moment. We deal with a lot of that actually this season on the show. Not everybody who gets caught doing something wrong in taken in. Sometimes they’re just taken out back and given a good stern speaking to.

Q: I’m glad he’s more about the spirit, but even John can’t believe that convenience store customer.

MC: Oh, I think there just comes a point where he’s just like all bets are off and he’s just had it. He’s just, “How stupid can one person get?” He knows he’s in a position to impose his authority if he needs to. He would rather not but he knows in his world, the buck stops here.

Q: What would the law say about paying $3 out of pocket to settle that issue?

MC: It has nothing to do with it. It’s my choice. I’m sure it would be against department policy but it defused the situation. It’s whatever. I think ultimately they’d be like, “It’s your money, whatever.”

Q: Is it getting harder for John to keep those situations cool?

MC: Yes. Yes, it is. Things are building up for him. As the season goes on, he will have more and more difficulty keeping a lid on everything.

Q: You and Ben (Ben McKenzie) get the craziest crimes. What other ones are coming up?

MC: We have an incident dealing with a snake. There’s a big incident that happens on Hollywood Blvd. which is fantastic because we shut down Hollywood Blvd. for a while and that was amazing to do. We have burglaries, a lot of domestic violence.

Q: You’ve worked on the real streets throughout the show. How does it change things to get to that iconic street and incorporate it?

MC: I just think everything is better outside. They say everything’s better with bacon. Everything’s better outside. When you’re doing a crime show and you’re actually tracking people down, it’s so much better to be in the actual streets with real traffic than it is to be in some back lot with some manufactured traffic and manufactured everything. It’s all real. We have to react to it. A bus drives by and it’s really loud, you talk louder. These are things that are not possible on a set that’s been sterilized just for sound purposes. It’s like, “Oh, we’ll put the bus in later.” You can put the bus in later but these people won’t be speaking louder when the bus drives by. The bus’l drive by and we’ll just be able to hear everybody talking at the same level. It adds a texture to it that is indefinable but I think you feel it in the way the show looks and the way it affects you emotionally.

Q: How is the back problem going to develop for John?

MC: Well, his back’s going to get worse. He’s going to have much more of a situation where his bad days outnumber his good. His use of prescription drugs to help deal with that is going to affect everything in his life.

Q: For a guy who wants to keep control, what’s your take on his dependence on painkillers? That would seem like giving up some control.

MC: Well, not in his mind. As far as he knows, he’s in complete control and he can handle it. There’s no problem here. That’s an addict.

Q: How is his relationship with Ben going to go?

MC: Well, Ben’s getting to the end of his training. There’s some interesting stuff that goes down between them partner-wise, in John sort of testing him to see if he is ready to move out on his own. There’s some funny stuff and some very serious stuff that happens between that. Throughout the season, I think we’re going to see how they have grown to depend on each other.

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Shawn Hatosy Dishes on ‘Southland’ Mon, 03 Jan 2011 18:23:11 +0000 Fred Topel Get some juicy intel from Det. Sammy Bryant himself.

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Before the holida break, I got to talk with several cast members from TNT’s returning cop show “Southland.” After TNT saved them from cancellation on NBC, they were eager to discuss and interest people in watching. Shawn Hatosy, who plays Det. Sammy Bryant, got on the phone to talk about the 10 new episodes airing this season.

In the first show back, Sammy and Nate (Kevin Alejandro) investigate gang killings. Nate even backs off the tough gangsters. Sammy comes home to more drama with Tammi (Emily Bergl) and that’s where the season begins. Here are some more spoilers and details from our interview with Shawn Hatosy.

Shawn Hatosy: I could talk all day about “Southland.” It doesn’t even feel like work, and I’m not kidding. Even shooting the show, we’re like, “This isn’t work. This is the dream job.”

Q: Anything can be a little like work though. What removes that from “Southland?”

SH: It’s just so much fun. We take pride in the fact that we go into the street and use these locations and we don’t change them. What you see on the show was already there. If there’s trash on the street, then it stays. We don’t take it away.

Q: Does that take care of a lot of the down time?

SH: There’s not much waiting. Also, we don’t do a lot of takes. So we have to come prepared. We have a protocol on our show where there’s no sides. You have to be off book when you show up. So once we block the scene out and they turn the camera on, it’s very much like live theater because we don’t go back and we don’t do very many takes.

Q: So when your partner says “Better a live p*ssy than a dead hero,” that’s not scripted?

SH: I think that was scripted. That was definitely scripted. They turn the cameras on and that is what it is. What I was saying is I find myself on this show standing in for myself while they light because it’s really the only chance that I’m going to get as the actor to run through my own little rehearsal because I know I’m not going to get 50 takes, or even five takes. So I’m standing in for myself going through the scene while they light because I have no idea how many times I’m going to get a crack at it.

Q: What was the fight with Tammi about? Should we remember that?

SH: That’s to be revealed so probably not so much. What it does do is they’re relationship, and it’s no secret, is a mess.

Q: I’ve been there, dude.

SH: I wish I could say that I haven’t been there but I’ve been there too. What it creates for Sammy is he needs support and he turns to Nate. This season becomes about relying on his partner for support at work and not at work.

Q: What interesting cases are coming up?

SH: I think that this season, more so than the prior seasons, we really go into the gang world. Episode 2 is called “Punching Water.” What it refers to is actually Sal makes a speech about punching water, no matter how hard you hit the water, you just can’t make a dent. It’s the same thing with these gangs. We sit here and we try and we’ve got all this, we’ve figured this out and we’ve figured out this sign, we can’t let these people talk but these senseless crimes continue to happen. If you think about it too much you might just give up. So many things that are just sad go on and Sammy takes it personally. He really is energized to try to make it right.

Q: Will the gang murder from episode 1 develop further in the season?

SH: No, I think that one’s open and shut. We handled that one although I can’t say for sure. We don’t tend to continue that many cases. There’s been a handful but not that one, no.

Q: 10 episodes is actually the longest season you’ve had by far.

SH: Almost by half.

Q: What sort of character arc does that give you?

SH: First of all, just knowing. Just the idea that there will be 10, meaning a beginning, a middle and an end, it’s just comforting. You say as the actor, well, I want to start here and I want to end here. The writers have done a beautiful job thus far of creating very interesting storylines, emotional which is good for Sammy because he’s a very emotional guy. It’s one of the things that I enjoy about him. He reacts and is impulsive so I think that I really am excited about this season of “Southland.” It’s a very raw show and the fans are just going to be blown away by it.

Q: Well, we’ve been with you since the NBC days.

SH: And their presence even in the second season was felt. There was a lot going on behind the scenes and it was a blessing in disguise that they cancelled us and didn’t air those six, because there was value in those six. TNT watched them and gave us life. I’m so f***ing happy to be associated with TNT.

Q: Are you just at the stage of an actor’s life where you play cops now?

SH: It sure feels like it, yeah. I don’t know what that says about me. There was a time when I was hitting 22 and 23 where I was still getting all thes high school roles. I kept saying to myself, “God, one day, I don’t want to be this kid anymore. I want to be a lawyer or a cop.” Now that’s just kind of the progression of things. There are great stories in crime. That’s always going to be that way.

Q: How was your experience on “Dexter?”

SH: I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think Boyd Fowler was a great character. I remember when they were explaining it to me, I was just like, “Seriously? You’re going to let me do this? This is great.” A character like that, there’s no real feeling. There’s a lot of freedom creatively when you play somebody as twisted as that. That was a lot of fun. People all the time come up to me on the street. I actually can’t believe how many people watc Dexter. More people than almost anything else I’ve done really.

Q: Is it cool to be on Dexter’s table?

SH: Yeah. I remember looking at him just as actors, I was naked and taped to a table while he was plunging a knife into my chest. There’s blood coming out and I just looked at him going, “This is quite the interesting type of employment that you have” because he does it weekly.

Q: Are you playing another cop in Street Kings 2?

SH I am playing another cop.

Q: What do you like about that character?

SH: That’s a lot of this back and forth between partners. Ray Liotta plays my partner. The approach from the director was not the same as “Southland.” On “Southland” we try to create this realistic and we just let the camera go where it goes. This was he had this kind of noir approach to it, very beautiful setups so for me it was totally like, “Whoa.” I haven’t seen it yet. I can’t wait.

Q: Does it have much connection to the first Street Kings?

SH: No. I don’t know because I haven’t seen the first one but from what I understand there’s none. I did something similar to that with Bad Lieutenant which was the Nic Cage version which they use the title I guess to sell but there’s no relation there. It’s just the title and the city. I think the concept is we could take Bad Lieutenant and the next one could be Stallone and put it in L.A. and there you go.

Q: Are you already looking forward to a fourth season of “Southland?”

SH: Gosh, I hope so. That would be great. The fact is, we’re doing 10 episodes and we’re going to do them to the best of our ability. So far we’re hitting home runs. Look, you just believe in what it is that you set out to do. If it works out, it works out. I think it will, but I’m naïve sometimes.

“Southland” premieres tomorrow at 10PM EST on TNT.

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Review: ‘Southland’ Season 3 Premiere Mon, 27 Dec 2010 20:31:27 +0000 Fred Topel “Southland” is back with thrilling TV action, but it’s not really the action that makes the show.

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For the patient fans who waited through the NBC/TNT handover, the third season of “Southland” begins in the middle of action. Lydia (Regina King) and her new partner Josie Ochoa (Jenny Gago) run down a perp. The episode culminates in a rolling vehicular move by the officers on the street, so “Southland” is back with thrilling TV action, but it’s not really the action that makes the show.

Flash back to the beginning of the case that leads to this dramatic chase. John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) and Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) respond to the call about of a missing janitor. Ben brings the human touch to an uncaring bureaucrat. The missing woman’s daughter is upset. That should have been enough cause to investigate, but the suit waited two days. Now it’s a police matter.

Cooper knows something’s wrong from basic detective skills. Her purse is still in her locker. What woman would leave her purse? Duh. This is enough to turn the case over to Lydia and the detectives. The janitor never punched out. And that didn’t raise a red flag? The K-9 unit ultimately finds the body (spoiler alert, but come on, did you really think she’d turn out okay?)

Even though we know what’s coming, “Southland” builds up to the discovery with class and suspense. That’s why the show is a step above the usual cop drama. Also, this all happens within 10 hours. That’s some damn fine police work. I hope the real cops are that efficient.

Continuing in the story, the detectives handle the survivors with sympathy. Josie tells the daughter, “I’m going to be sad with you, okay?” Think about it, that is the only possible response to the situation and it could even be helpful. Personality differences between Josie and Lydia become a recurring theme. It’s petty that Lydia doesn’t like Josie talking on the phone while driving, but profound when they argue a rape counselor’s responsibility to help the investigation.

Meanwhile Cooper and Sherman handle some more petty street incidents and these are my favorites on the show. A fight between a convenience store clerk and a customer over $3 tests even Cooper’s patience. He uses his own personal resources to defuse the situation, which may be against the books but I respect it. In real life, it’s more important to just solve the problem then follow some irrelevant procedure. That’s why the police work of “Southland” speaks to me on a more practical level.

Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) and Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) investigate the bodies of some gang members in a subplot that didn’t mean as much to me this week. However, it does touch on the reality that a couple of suits can only do so much in gangland. More interesting is that Tammi and Sammy have bee fighting again. We don’t even know what it was about, but we get it because that girl is nothing but drama.

Yes, this is the “Southland” I love. They’ve set up some ongoing dramas (also Cooper’s painkiller dependence) but delivered a standalone episode that should hook any first time viewer.

“Southland” returns Jan. 4 on TNT.

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‘Southland’ Spoilers: The Case of the Blow Up Doll Stabbing Fri, 10 Dec 2010 21:45:12 +0000 Fred Topel This show seems to write itself, as officers advise the producers of strange real cases they’ve investigated. Rookie officer Ben Sherman gets a surprise in a seemingly routine domestic disturbance.

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TNT’s cop drama “Southland,” which it inherited from NBC, is back on the case starting January 14. This show seems to write itself, as officers advise the producers of strange real cases they’ve investigated. Rookie officer Ben Sherman gets a surprise in a seemingly routine domestic disturbance.

“There’s a scene this year where there’s a guy who’s bleeding, says his girlfriend cut him,” McKenzie said in a conference call with the media. “’Where is she?’ ‘Down the block.’ It’s a blow up doll. The guy is 5150, crazy. He says he got into an argument with his girlfriend about the outfit she was wearing and guys looking at her. Clearly he’s lying, he cut himself. There’s funny stuff like that but also disturbing. It’s a line we walk on the show.”

The detectives’ cases aren’t as outrageous since by the time it gets to their level it’s a pretty serious crime. Regina King returns as Det. Lydia Adams. “There’s one that takes place that starts out seeming to be like its going to be another murder case that she’s picked up and turns out to go way beyond just being a murder case,” King said during the call.

A very serious matter returns to Sherman’s life. A case involving his family develops the personal conflicts an officer may face. “In episode three, the guy who raped my mom gets out of prison and that affects me pretty severely,” McKenzie said. “I go a little haywire because of it. We’re forced to talk about that. I think it will shed some light on who this guy is deep down and the armor he puts up. Most of what you’ve seen is this stoic guy out there observing the world and taking John’s [Cooper (Michael Cudlitz)] flack, taking a lot of grief from John. Inside there’s a lot of stuff boiling and you see that come to the surface in that episode and inform who this guy is. He’s almost obsessed with the notion of justice in a way, what he’s been pursuing his entire life. When that changes in that episode, you see him grow up and mature a little that episode.”

Adams has been a stellar by-the-books detective so far. The new season will shake her up too. “Lydia specifically [learns] that she may not be the easiest partner to work with, contrary to her belief,” King said. “You kind of see her discovering that through this new partner she’s working with. I think you’re definitely going to see a less perfect side of Lydia but I think what’s interesting about how the writers are playing it is that you see a less perfect side of her as she discovers the less perfect side of herself.”

The new partner is a senior detective, who really challenges Lydia’s comfort zone. “Lydia’s never worked with a woman before,” King said. “The character is a woman that’s been on the force longer than Lydia. She’s older than her so there is that dynamic that it’s not said but the tension is felt where you have one person who is really good at their job and feels like ‘I’m this good and I’ve reached the levels of success that I’ve had because I’ve been this good.’ Then you have the other one that’s like ‘I’ve been here longer than [anyone].’ It’s a little similar to what goes on with John Cooper and Ben Sherman but the only difference is Lydia’s been around longer than Ben Sherman’s character so she’s a little more vocal about not liking the way her partner does her job. Ben Sherman definitely does not agree with all the stuff you hear John Cooper say but he’s his training officer so you kind of catch some of his disdain for some of what Cooper says in his looks. Lydia is more vocal.”

“Southland” returns Jan. 4 for 10 new episodes on TNT.

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