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Southland: A Cop Drama That Still Doesn't Hold Back on the Action

Southland returned for its third season last night and I was thrilled to see it back. In light of its tumultuous move from NBC to TNT, we should consider ourselves lucky to have gotten a second season, much less a third. And considering the talented cast and the engaging nature of the show, I'll take as many episodes as I can get. Especially if they are as good as the one as this season premiere.

In a very timely twist, the episode involve an impending snow storm in Southern California and takes place shortly after Christmas. Odd coincidence, considering current events. Anyway, the snow is coming, but that doesn't remotely slow down the criminals in LA. There's all manner of crimes being committed, from homicides to missing persons to domestic disturbances. and one thing that this show does well is deal with all of these things simultaneously. Each episode doesn't focus on one case or even two (like your typical cop show), but several. And when the cops finish with one assignment they are off to the next one in the course of the same episode.

In between all of the pulling people over, rescuing cops from random shooters, finding cleaning ladies dead in ceilings, solving a murder and chasing down criminals, these characters find time to squeeze in information about their personal lives. Cooper's addiction to painkillers is wore than ever, Ben is attracted to older ladies in sports cars, Lydia hates her new partner, Russell is tired of being on desk duty and Sammy just found out that his wife is pregnant. Again, this is all squeezed into one episode, but it never feels like anyone is getting the short shrift or that plots aren't resolved. It's a dizzying pace but one that I imagine captures what it's like to serve as a cop in Los Angeles.

But beside the top-notch pacing, characters and acting, what really makes this show stand out is the use of profanity. Of course, it's bleeped out -- this isn't HBO after all -- but still, it actually makes it all seem far more realistic. All in all, this episode brought the show back in fine form, avoided following into a procedural trap and left us wanting more - as always.

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