The Southland Premiere

by Angel Cohn April 10, 2009
Spring Pilot Season: Southland

The helpful text on the screen introduces the show with this statistic: "Only 9,800 police officers patrol the city of Los Angeles, an area of 500 square miles and 4 million people..." Not such good odds.

Short intro, and then we see a tattooed thug getting put in a squad car, an officer being carried out on a stretcher and a shell-shocked little Ben MacKenzie (who apparently decided that "Benjamin" was just too long to say) in uniform. We don't know his name yet, I'm fighting the urge to call him Ryan. There's cops swarming the scene, and a faceless person asking him if he's okay. Oh, now we know his name. Ben Sherman. They're in a place called Glassell Park; it's 1:45 AM, and Ben is staring at a dead guy in a wife beater. He's a newbie, and his training officer has to sign his daily book, says the voiceover, which weirdly sounds some boring thing you'd hear in a dull documentary. I'm not sure if that's what they were going for. Maybe they were aiming for serious. If so, it isn't working.

Anyway, 18 hours earlier we see Ben with his training officer and a big, old gun. They head to the car while the senior officer, John Cooper, gives him the lowdown on everything around. Basically it amounts to, "guard your gun and don't fuck up too badly." They open the door to their car and it reeks. The senior officer prays that he doesn't get a staph infection because another officer is going to lose her foot to one. Gross. Ben loads the rifle into its locked position and John starts asking questions about how he got here. When'd he get out of the academy? About a month ago. Does he know his penal codes? Yes. Then John starts telling horror stories about a mayhem case that involved a man carving up his genitalia with spoons. I'm already disgusted and fascinated by this show, and the credits are still running. Good sign! Ben's not all that amused. But John took Polaroids of the event and joked about it with his captain; judging by the horrified look on Ben's face, John decides he must be Canadian. Blame Canada!

They drive past a cute little girl bouncing a ball off a metal door. I'm bracing myself for her to get shot, but apparently it was just setting the scene. They continue on by a bodega where the local meth head is hanging out. John greets him with profanity. Meth head is worried about a cat who got thrown up on a roof by his friend. John deems him too stupid to live. This is probably true. He then calls the scene an "asshole rodeo." I'm not entirely sure what that means, but that's the best term ever. I love it. I'm going to try working it into casual conversation. I'm sure I can do it.

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