The Shield: Season 6 (DVD)

Many people believe The Wire to be the best cop show ever made. I beg to differ; for me, The Shield is hands down the finest police drama to ever come out of LA. And it's all thanks to exceptional writing, brilliant acting and realistic storylines. RIght out of the gate — from its very first episode, where the main character murders one of his own men — this gritty drama has been utterly compelling and totally unmissable.

The Shield Season 6 DVDSeason 6 begins where Season 5 left off — with Shane (Goggins) murdering fellow Strike Team member Lem (Kenny Johnson). And if you haven't watched Season 5 yet, stop reading now, because there are more spoilers ahead. Of course, team leader Vic (Chiklis) is determined to find — and kill — whoever offed Lem, but first he has to deal with the IAD pest Kavanaugh (Whitaker), who is out to bring him down. Shane, of course, is grief-stricken over what he has done — especially when he discovers that Lem had not ratted on the team — and contemplates suicide. Meanwhile, Claudette (Pounder) is still finding her feet as the new precinct captain, the Strike Team gets a couple of new members, Danny (Dent) gives birth to Vic's baby ... and Vic learns the truth about who killed Lem.

The Shield is dark, gritty, realistic and still probably the most morally ambiguous show on television. And the corrupt but charismatic Vic Mackey, superbly portrayed by Chiklis, is one of the best characters ever created for the small screen — yes, he's up there with Tony Soprano and Frasier Crane. Mackey is more than happy to steal drug money, or kill people who get in his way, but at the end of the will always do the right thing for his family and friends, and is still a damned good cop. But this season was also when we saw Shane step to the forefront, out of Vic's shadow, and try to come to terms with what he did — which he thought he was doing for the good of the Team. The Shield is all about the characters — real, believable characters with complex lives and issues; for the writers, killing Lem — who really was the conscience of the Strike Team — was a brave and ultimately clever move. It made Season 6 utterly riveting, even though we had most of the characters running in circles, unsure of what was going on, for much of the time. But the finale, and the setup for Season 7 (which will also be the final season), was perfect: mortal enemies Mackey and Aceveda (Martinez) cutting a deal to save both their skins ... just brilliant.

EXTRAS ** No commentary tracks at all, which is shameful considering the extensive episode commentaries on the previous box sets. All we get are 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes: Two Directors, Saturn's Sons and Full Circle: Franka Potente.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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