Southland—Season 1

southland season 1 dvd benjamin mckenzie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Strong, gritty police drama

Takes a bit to get the characters down


This is how we welcome people to L.A.

The LAPD have a tough job on their hands.  They have to patrol a massive, sprawling city while carrying a reputation that isn’t always positive.  Officer Ben Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie) is a rookie on the force and quickly learning from his partner John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) that being an officer isn’t as simple as it was at the academy.  With crime on the rise and their jobs just getting harder, Sherman, Cooper, and the other officer of their precinct continue to find the darker side of LA.

Southland—Season 1 aired from April 9, 2009 to May 21, 2009 on NBC.  The gritty series was praised for its realism but also found criticism for the darkness of the network TV series.


This ain’t the O.C.!

Though it is a crime drama and there is a ton of great crimes, the series is primarily about the men and women who work on the LAPD.  The character driven aspect of the series is a little more Hill Street Blues but much more modernized and in a place where the rich and poor mix much more frequently (leading to lots of potential stories).  The storytelling of the series is great, and it makes you wish that each season was longer.  The problem with Southland however was that it was probably too edgy for its own good.


If you start singing that California song, I’m kicking you out…

The cast is also strong.  The “lead” of the cast is the surprisingly Benjamin McKenzie who graduated from The O.C. (and later went on to be an officer again in Gotham).  Through the “rookie” experience, the series is able to explore the other characters like his partner played by Michael Cudlitz.  I particularly like Regina King who has the difficulty of not only being a woman but African-American in a job that traditionally a good ol’ boys career…but she still has enough depth in character to want to still be a mother (and kicks ass in the last episode of the season).  I feel that the Dewey character is a bit much and I admit that watching the show, it is a bit hard to get a handle on the characters for the first few episodes (and with an extremely short season, that doesn’t give you much to hold on to).


Dewey…your premiums are going up.

The series looks fantastic.  It is edgy and stylized.  Instead of having characters clean-up their language, the series opted to beep out foul language so watching on DVD is beneficial because it does feel big and bold with the original language restored.

I wanted to watch Southland, but never got around to it…apparently America had much of the same problem.  The series struggled for an audience week after week (not aided by NBC’s weak lineups), and the word of mouth couldn’t save it.  After Southland—Season 1 aired, Southland—Season 2 had planned to return to NBC but was swiftly pulled and ended up on TNT.  This turned out to be a bit of a blessing for Southland which was able to find a smaller, steadfast audience and continued running for four more seasons.

Southland—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:


“Unknown Trouble”

1.1       Unknown Trouble Airdate:  04/09/09

Ben Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie) is having a rough first day on the job.  Needled by his partner John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) about his upper-class upbringing, Ben finds a body eaten by dogs and is involved in a police action shooting.  Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) is dealing with his marriage breaking up and a teen gunned down in front of a group of girls.  Lydia Adams (Regina King) has been called in to investigate the disappearance of a little girl and finds that looks can be deceiving when she has suspicions about one of the bystanders.



1.2       Mozambique Airdate:  04/16/09

Ben finds instant fame with his takedown of the criminal, but finds he’s still learning.  When John, Ben, and Chickie Brown (Arija Bareikis) find a baby in the street, Lydia takes care of the child while the search for the mother begins.  Sammy Bryant and Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) tries to get his drive-by witness Janila (Carla Jeffery) into a police youth program but makes her a target.  Dewey Dudek (C. Thomas Howell) prepares for retirement and Ben reveals how he came to seek out law despite his father’s background.


“See the Woman”

1.3       See the Woman Airdate:  04/23/09

Ben completes his police action shooting therapy and sets out with Cooper for a day on the streets.  Sherman and Cooper gets called on a case to find a stolen car…where the owner can’t report it.  A botched tracheotomy on an overdose leads to an arrest of the man trying to save her…and Russell Clarke (Tom Everett Scott) getting close to the victim’s sister.  Ben and Cooper are called to a movie set where an altercation between the star Timmy Davis (Tom Sizemore) and a hooker…leading to conflict between Dewey and his partner Chickie over Dewey’s ties to Timmy which leads to trouble for Dewey.


“Sally in the Alley”

1.4       Sally in the Alley Airdate:  04/30/09

An unidentified “Sally in the Alley” is found and the police set out to find the murderer…making it a personal mission for Adams. Tammi Bryant (Emily Bergl) tries to make some money by having a police dog search for drugs.  Nate finds his sister Mercedes (Alyssa Diaz) missing and      reveals a secret to Sammy.  Russell takes writing classes which puts him at odds with his wife Dina (Emily Swallow) and Adams tries to date.


“Two Gangs”

1.5       Two Gangs Airdate:  05/07/09

Detective Daniel Salinger (Michael McGrady) as an accident after a night out and finds his gun and wallet stolen…leading to Sammy and Nate questioning if they need to report it.  The search for Salinger’s gun is on and the time is counting down before an investigation will have to be made.  The arrest of a man for indecent exposure leads Adams to have a new admirer.  The search for the gun leads to a big decision for Salinger’s affair with Mia Sanchez (Lisa Vidal).



1.6       Westside Airdate:  05/14/09

A home invasion puts Ben in contact with an old friend from school named Daisy Milliard (Lindsey Kraft).  Sammy and Nate take Janila to testify…with tragic results.  Cooper deals with increasing back problems and fighting drug abuse.  Ben faces off against his father (John Heard) and learns that his father has a bad prognosis.  Russell finds himself kicked out by his wife.



1.7       Derailed Airdate:  05/21/09

It is Memorial Day weekend, and crime is flourishing.  Bryant and Moretta learn that Marta Ruiz (Lupe Ontiveros) is targeting Janila and that the heat is on to silence her.  Salinger finds his daughter is out of control and sets out to set her straight!  Chickie decides she’s had enough of Dewey and his behavior.  Assigned to watch Janila, Adams finds herself facing armed intruders…and a holiday party leaves her partner Clarke in danger.

Related Links:

Southland—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Southland—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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