When you think of anti-heroes of television, the most common names to pop up are Walter White, Omar Little, or Walter White; however, one of the more prominent figures that doesn’t get as much mention is Vic Mackey, a cop who doesn’t play by the rules. The Shield lasted for eight seasons and won two Primetime Emmys during its time on television. However, since the show has gone off the air, dozens of police dramas have flooded the television and movie landscape. With so much content in media in 2022, does the original pilot of the critically acclaimed series hold up 20 years?
The pilot is…fine. As mentioned in the above paragraph, there are dozens of police dramas where there’s a dirty cop or an officer who doesn’t particularly play by the rules. Here’s the thing, if the show came on today then I would actually tune in to episode two. The climax of the pilot is what’s true hooks you into the story. We know that Mackey dances between good and evil. He beats the crap out of a drug dealer at the beginning of the episode that gives a great description of the kind of man he is. Mackey isn’t necessarily a bad guy. He believes in justice; however, his version of justice appears to be him being as much of a monster as the low life’s he puts in handcuffs. The show does a really good job balancing the different layers of his character. Clever writing is at play here as it was smart to have him brutalize a pedophile without blinking an eyelash. These criminals are the most deplorable people on earth and for the show to balance out his unlikeable characteristics by assaulting the criminal was pretty smart. The dynamic between him and Captain David Aceveda is interesting. The Captain knows that he’s a crooked cop, but doesn’t mind using Mackey’s services when necessary. This also gives Aceveda a coding of paint that doesn’t particularly paint him as a straight and narrow good cop as well.
It does have you wonder what his true motives for exposing Mackey is. Does this have something to do with his play for mayor soon? Or is this a personal vendetta against the officer? Surely, following the death of Terry Crowley, the heat is going to be on Mackey even more. Speaking of the climax, it was a nice swerve that came out of nowhere. Was it surprising that he knew that Crowley was a mole? Not really. It’s made clear that Mackey has power, so he was likely informed by some higher up about the Captain keeping taps on him. Questions about Mackey’s morals also start to pop up. If he’s willing to kill one of his own, just how far will this guy go as long as he has a badge and a gun? Is his abuse of power because of ego? Was their a tragic past that made him such a dirty cop? The sudden gun shot was bold and added to the drama of the ongoing story arc. Obviously, he’ll blame the shootout as the reasoning behind Crowley’s casualty, but the journey to get there should be a fascinating one. None of the cast is showcased in a good light, bringing an interesting balance in a world filled with violence and justice. Everyone seems to be on the same page when it comes to justice, but at what cost are they willing to get it?
The situation involving Detective Holland and the crying woman was childish. I know that these are morally corrupt people, but you would expect a bunch of high schoolers to think that she was pleasuring him, not grown men who are supposed to protect and serve. It was there to highlight how the office sees Holland, but it came across as silly and immature. It’s a minor nitpick because it didn’t ruin the pilot overall, but it was a hiccup that could’ve been written better. So exactly why did I just say that the pilot of The Shield is fine if I’m giving the show such high remarks? Simply put, I’ve seen it before. Not the show per se, but the police drama arc that involves a shady cop. The show is brought down a peg because if it was released in today’s society, not many would care too much because of that notion. There are plenty of intriguing pieces to this puzzle that elevate The Shield beyond many police dramas, but the advertisement of a good cop running rough shot over Los Angeles just wouldn’t garner much buzz. Then again, neither did Breaking Bad and the show became a big success as seasons passed. You can certainly check out The Shield and be extremely entertained by the pilot, though if you shrug your shoulders and move on with your life then its understandable. Definitely a big crime as it’s one of the best shows to grace the television landscape as a whole.
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