The Shield-Complete First Season (2002)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 9-Feb-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Filmmakers And Actors
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-The Shield FX Featurette
Featurette-Casting Tapes
Deleted Scenes-17
Featurette-Season 1 Epilogue
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 555:12
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Brad Anderson
John Badham
Paris Barclay
Scott Brazil

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Michael Chiklis
Catherine Dent
Walt Goggins
Michael Jace
Kenny Johnson
Jay Karnes
Benito Martinez
CCH Pounder
David Rees Snell
Case ?
RPI $94.95 Music Matthias Weber

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Every now and then, a TV series comes along that restores your faith in the ability to tell real tales on the small screen. Shawn Ryan’s brilliant show The Shield is one such series.

    The premise of The Shield is the moral ambiguity of urban policing in the contemporary era. Set in Farmington, a crime infested neighbourhood in downtown South Central L.A., The Shield tells the story of the various police officers at ‘The Barn’, a church that has been converted into a police station. The Barn itself is torn between the heavy-handed police tactics advocated by strike team leader Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), and the more liberal policing methods endorsed by station captain David Aceveda (Benito Martinez). Also at The Barn are detective investigators Holland ‘Dutch’ Wagenbach (Jay Karnes) and Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder), street patrol officers Danielle ‘Dani’ Sofer (Catherine Dent) and Julien Lowe (Michael Jace) and the rest of the strike team – Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins), Curtis ‘Lemonhead’ Lemansky (Kenny Johnson) and Ronnie Gardocki (David Rees Snell).

    Season One breaks down like this:

Disc 1

    1. Pilot (44:18) -- When a young girl goes missing, Dutch and Claudette are put on the case. At the same time, one of Vic’s strike team decides to turn state’s evidence in order to further his own career and David’s political career. But when Dutch and Claudette come up dry, David lets Vic loose.

    2. Our Gang (44:34) -- In the wake of a raid that ended in the death of a strike team member, Vic becomes the subject of an Internal Affairs investigation as well as a personal investigation by David.

    3. The Spread (43:47) -- It is warrant collection time and all units are out collecting outstanding arrest warrants. During a raid, the strike team come across Derek Trip from the New Jersey NBA team and plan to lock him up for the day so the Lakers can win the game. At the same time, Vic’s prostitute friend Connie shows up after being attacked and Vic puts Dutch and Claudette on the case. When Dutch begins suspecting that there is a serial killer in L.A. targeting prostitutes, he puts the suspect in Connie’s case through an interrogation to see if he is a murderer.

    4. Dawg Days (43:39) -- When a rap gig explodes into a gang war, Vic decides to play arbitrator before things get really out of control. At the same time he learns that his son has a disability that will require specialist care.

Disc 2

    5. Blowback (43:53) -- A big Armenian cocaine bust leads Vic to confiscate evidence for his own use. When Julien witnesses Vic’s actions he must choose between his loyalty to his comrades in the force and his personal values. Things get more complex when the car Vic stashes the stolen evidence in is itself stolen giving David an opportunity to expose the corruption in his unit to further his own political objectives.

    6. Cherrypoppers (44:37) -- A teen prostitute turns up murdered and Dutch convinces David to give him the resources to start a manhunt on a suspected serial killer. But the hunt leads Vic to an underage sex parlour where the victim once worked.

    7. Pay In Pain (44:20) -- A massacre at a shooting range brings Vic and the strike force over to the Latino part of town and into the seedy world of Latino gangland. At the same time, Dutch and Claudette work an ‘easy’ case involving a psychic ripping off elderly folk.

    8. Cupid & Psycho (44:32) -- With the strike force under investigation by IAD again, David puts its members on regular investigative duty with other partners. Dutch and Shane wind up working the murder case of a lonely widow’s husband, and Claudette and Vic wind up chasing down a group of meth dealers with some lethal product on the street. At the same time, Vic leans on Julien to make him recant his story about pocketing the Armenian cocaine.

Disc 3

    9. Throwaway (43:46) -- A tough Mexican gang is raiding trucks in Farmington. But when Lemonhead shoots the wrong suspect he winds up protecting the injured man’s sister and trying to correct his wrong. At the same time, Claudette and Dutch come across a blind man chained up in his backyard by his son which raises some painful questions for Claudette about her own family.

    10. Dragonchasers (44:27) -- When a man is caught masturbating in an alleyway, Dutch thinks he might have his serial killer. At the same time, Vic’s prostitute friend Connie tries to get straight so she can keep custody of her son. Plus, a nosey reporter starts creating problems for David and Vic.

    11. Carnivores (44:36) -- A gang war over drug turf heats up with a challenge to Rondell, who Vic protects. An African Muslim group begins suspecting Vic’s corruption. David tries to dispose of rape allegations against him. And Julien starts taking deadly risks as his self hatred gets the better of him.

    12. Two Days Of Blood (44:33) -- The death of two elderly black women in a black neighbourhood sparks racial tensions in Farmington and heightens hostility towards the police who failed to answer a 911 call in time. At the same time, Vic is asked by his old friend and current Assistant Chief of Police Ben Gilroy to help him out with a hit-and-run accident that is more than it seems at first instance.

Disc 3

    13. Circles (44:30) -- As the riots get out of control, David is removed from his office, and Farmington is struck by a series of cop killings that divides Vic’s attention away from troubles with his family and Gilroy. With the situation reaching boiling point, Vic strikes a deal with David that may see them both come out winners ... or dead.

    What can I say?

    The Shield is one of the finest things to come along in crime TV for a long time. Much different to your more conventional ‘whodunnit’ crime series, The Shield is all about the moral ambiguities of the job. Just like a James Ellroy novel, all the characters are flawed. Many of them do the wrong thing, believing that their motives for breaking the law are just, thereby negating the wrongness of their actions and placating their consciences – at least in the short term. Most of them have personal issues affecting them: for Vic it is his struggling family; for David his political ambitions; for Dutch his feelings of inadequateness; for Julien his sexuality and religious beliefs.

    Moreover, The Shield is not squeamish when it comes to contentious and full-on scripts depicting the kind of real crime that happens on the streets in impoverished neighbourhoods wracked by racial division and drug trafficking. Sexual exploitation of minors, gang warfare, cop killings, prostitution, drug abuse, and extreme poverty are just some of the things you will see in just about every episode. It also has exceptional production values, looking more like work made for the big screen than something you would see on TV.

    Sure, Season One is not perfect, and has its dud subplots here and there. But as first seasons go, this is so far above the mark that it just makes you want to applaud. With only thirteen episodes this season, I was thirsting for more at the end. Furthermore, the minor scripting faults are generally vitiated by the exceptional acting of the entire cast, particularly Chiklis who carries the series from start to finish.

    Ultimately, The Shield is a high impact drama series that looks at the lives of those in the police force and the moral choices they have to make to keep us safe, and the criminals safe from them. It is complex, interwoven and interdependent across the season, working on many layers and full of subtext. If you like your TV different and a notch above the rest, this is an absolute must-see.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is the original aspect ratio for the series.

    The digital editing and broadcast stage has led to a revolution in transfers of recent series to DVD, with stunning clarity. This is no exception. The image is crisp and clear despite the frequent use of experimental, ‘independent’ filmmaking style cinematography. Shadow detail is very good with only some slight film graininess being apparent in darker scenes, an intentional by-product of the film stock used to shoot the show.

    Colours are well saturated, although intentionally lacking the gloss of Hollywood filmmaking so as to give the show a more ‘real life’ feel. Think more American History X than, say, Charlie’s Angels.

    There are no MPEG artefacts, and film-to-video transfer artefacts were not readily apparent. The grainy film stock used to give this show a grittier, more docu-drama feel does sometimes result in faint low-level noise on broad patches of similar colour. Check out David’s blue suit during the press conference at the end of Circles for an example of this. However, the fault is not really distracting and just blends into the general graininess of the shot anyway.

    Dirt is very minimal, but I spotted a big hair flickering in the bottom right hand corner of the screen at 35:32 – 35:41 during the episode Pay In Pain that was quite distracting.

    Subtitles are available in English, English for the Hearing Impaired and Dutch for the show and English and Dutch for the audio commentaries. They are white with a black border, clear and easy to read, and follow the dialogue pretty closely.

    The dual-layer pauses are between the episodes, with two episodes per layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Sadly, the only audio available here is a 2.0 Dolby Surround track in the original English.

    If there was ever a show begging for a 5.1 Dolby Digital remix, this is it. That said, this is a pretty good track. Dialogue is clear and easily understood, and there were no audio sync issues.

    The range is very good for a mere Dolby Surround track, with the various bits of popular music used coming through with rich ambience, and the dialogue retaining all the emotion with which the actors render it.

    There are lots (and I mean lots) of left-right direction cues, and the show is literally a blur of sound information, giving Farmington a high paced, high pressure feel that adds to the show’s intensity by artificially creating a sense of urban claustrophobia. The rears get some use, but mostly only to fill out the music.

    Sadly, the subwoofer stays quiet, despite some very violent action sequences that could have made good use of it.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. They are static and silent.

Audio Commentaries: Episodes 1 -13

    Presented in 2.0 Dolby Surround, each episode has an audio commentary:

    While the persons who do the commentaries vary from time to time, all commentaries are of a high standard, with very few quiet spaces and lots of humorous anecdotal stories that are worth tuning in to. A fine effort by Columbia TriStar to bring these to us here in R4.

Season One Epilogue (0:23)

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, this is a brief epilogue shot on digital video by creator Shawn Ryan and actor Michael Chiklis.

Deleted Scenes

    Presented in 1.78:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, there are 17 deleted scenes:

    Each scene has an audio introduction by Shawn Ryan explaining what the scene is and why it was cut.

Cast Auditions

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, we are provided with cast audition tapes for:

Featurette – “Behind The Shield” (21:25)

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, this is a fairly good behind-the-scenes featurette with some interesting interviews with creator Shawn Ryan and actors Michael Chiklis, Jay Karnes, CCH Pounder, Catherine Dent and Michael Jace.

FX Featurette (2:27)

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, this is not a featurette on the special effects used in the show, but a wholly promotional featurette for Fox cable network TV.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 release includes the Pilot - Original Script which we do not have on the R4 release. The rest of the special features would appear to be identical. However, the R1 release is presented only in 1.33:1 Pan & Scan, which was the original broadcast ratio but not the original ratio used in filming – as the deleted scenes indicate, the show was shot in 1.78:1, not 1.33:1 Full Frame. For this reason, the R4 release is decidedly the better of the two.


    The Shield is fast becoming a contemporary classic for TV crime shows, winning both critical and popular accolades. If you haven’t seen it yet, pick this up.

    The video is excellent, with only some minor artefacts resulting from the intentionally grainy film stock used.

    The sound is sadly available only in 2.0 Dolby Surround, which is a shame because it deserves a full 5.1 Dolby Digital remix.

    The extras are excellent, and well above average for a TV series on DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Adrian T - Tory Favro
AllZone4DVD - OliverD

Comments (Add)
Fantastic Show & Boxset (Late R4 Release) - cztery
A great show ruined over here by Ten - cztery