The Shield-Complete Third Season (2004)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (4)
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It’s been two years since I reviewed the second season of this brilliant series, during which time seasons three and four have played on TV in Australia, season three, four and five have seen DVD releases in the US, and season six has just run its first airing on the F/X network in the US with a DVD release date just around the corner, with a seventh and final season planned for 2008. In short, we are well and truly behind the 8-ball with region 4 DVD releases of this show, and, as a result, I’m sure that most of you die-hard fans out there have either bought the next few seasons from the US or Canada where it has been released for years, or downloaded it to your screens via BitTorrent in some DivX format or another. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia, please take note – if the TV executives in Australia don’t want to play ball, make your money off the DVD sales right smart before the market vanishes overseas.
For those of you who have never encountered this series before, The Shield is one of the most hard-hitting crime drama series put to screen and has been deservedly recognised with several Emmy Awards for its efforts. Though not as realist or tragic as The Wire (perhaps its only comparable contemporary in the genre), The Shield is really a tale of politics and morality – in particular, what steps are necessary to keep the peace in an urban drug war. Set on the streets of south central Los Angeles, the show follows Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), leader of an elite “strike team” unit. Caught between the politics of Captain David Aceveda (Benito Martinez), winner of primary elections for governor, and ambitious detective Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder) who thinks that she could do things the right way if given the captaincy, Mackey must keep his men out of the firing line and cover up his past dealings – in particular, his theft of several million in Armenian drug money. Most troubling for Mackey is keeping his right-hand man, Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins), in line, particularly given tensions between him and a new member of the strike team brought in by Aceveda to keep an eye on them.
In between it all, detective Holland ‘Dutch’ Wagenbach (Jay Karnes) uncovers a serial rapist of old women, patrolman Danielle ‘Dani’ Sofer (Catherine Dent) tries desperately to reassert the kind of proper policing she was trained in after being suspended in questionable circumstances the previous season, and her partner, patrolman Julien Lowe (Michael Jace), tries to regain his credibility after the beating he took at the end of the second season, in the midst of trying to create his own family with his new wife despite his troubled sexuality.
The following is a breakdown of how these episodes are distributed across the 4 discs of season three. For those of you who need a complete episode summary, you can get one at TV.com, though beware of the spoilers.
Anybody who might have thought that this show would lose its edge after a couple of seasons would be eating their words right now. In fact, not only has this show not lost its edge, it has gotten consistently better and better, with a third season that is a crown jewel of achievement in progressive standards (of course, anybody who has seen them already knows that the fourth season is no slouch and that the fifth and sixth seasons are the best to date, although the trend towards shorter seasons is somewhat disappointing).
The Shield cuts no corners in delivering a portrait of the worst in humanity, censored only in its ability to drop the F-word and the C-word with abandon in the manner that shows like Deadwood, Sopranos and The Wire are capable of doing due to their HBO origins. Though, honestly, you’re not going to notice – indeed the wife was completely oblivious to it until I pointed it out. Maybe it was all the gory shots of severed feet that caused her to forget, but that’s another story entirely... Suffice to say, just when you think things can’t get any darker, any dirtier, any more twisted and horrific, The Shield takes that next step, and generally in a direction you didn’t expect. Brilliant scripting the whole way, and all credit is due to an amazing writing ensemble team.
Of course, a script is only as good as the ability of the actors and directors to bring it to life, and in this respect The Shield outshines most other shows on TV tenfold, particularly Chiklis and Martinez who create characters so complex, and in many respects so utterly loathsome, that you cannot help but be fascinated by their reactions to the world around them. Some days you hate them, but sometimes you wish that you had friends like them.
A faultless season of an amazing show – definitely not for everybody, but undeniably brilliant.
Transferred here in its original production and Australian broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this was originally broadcast on cable in the US in a 1.33:1 Full Frame aspect ratio.
Filmed on hand-held 16mm with an intentionally grainy and oversaturated film-stock, with some sequences shot on digital video as well, this show has a dirty and hyper-realistic feel that is very disconcerting at times – particularly in the various torture sequences and discoveries of feetless bodies.
The image is a little soft, mostly owing to the use of handheld cameras, the film-stock and people sometimes not quite hitting their mark. The image is well-detailed, however, and does not degrade into the kind of softness associated with VHS.
Colours are extremely rich, and have obviously been tweaked in post-production, likely to compensate for the oversaturation that gives this its overly “bright” feel. It makes for an extremely striking picture, with high contrast.
MPEG artefacts are non-existent, and film-to-video transfer artefacts barely noticeable, though there was sometimes a bit of a problem with the shots done in digital video.
Dirt is rare, but you will find a few specs if you look – mostly white dots. Other than that, no other serious film artefacts.
Subtitles are available in English, French, German, Italian 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.
Unfortunately, the only English audio available is the original Australian broadcast English 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo (encoded at 192Kbps). Oddly enough, there are three other audio tracks on here done in 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround – French, German and Italian.
Dialogue is clear, well audible, and without sync problems, but it seems a little flat overall in this stereo presentation.
The range is a little thin, and though there are good left and right audio cues and some decent ambient noise, this is far from the finest stereo track I have heard.
Sadly, no subwoofer or rear-surround use here.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. They are static and silent.
Presented in 2.0 Dolby Surround, the following episodes contain an audio commentary:
These commentaries are all excellent and well worth listening to.
Presented in 1.33:1, full Frame, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, there are 35 deleted scenes here, which is apparently enough to make up another episode. The deleted scenes have optional commentary by Shawn Ryan explaining why the scene was removed.
Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, this is a great documentary that looks at the process of writing an episode of this series. Very insightful.
We are provided with trailers for other Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases:
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The R1 and R4 releases are largely identical in terms of special features. The big differences are that the R1 release is Full Frame, whereas the R4 release is widescreen but apparently has had a scene trimmed from the episode Mum.
The Shield is addictive, compelling, brutal and highly memorable. This is an excellent DVD set, but a shame about the censorship issue and the plain stereo audio.
|DVD||Sony DVPNS92, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony KF42E200 42" Bravia 3LCD Rear-Projection TV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Jensen QX70 Centre Front, Jensen QX45 Left Front & Right Front, Jensen QX20 Left Rear & Right Rear, Jensen QX-90 Dual 10" 250 Watt Subwoofer|