Southland: What Makes Sammy Run – A Review

“Veteran cops know better than to take work home with them.” What a great opening line for this week’s episode. Great advice, too, for all cops. Unfortunately, even though the old-timers know better, the job is in their blood and that’s where it’ll remain until the day the bagpipes play.

A cop’s job is a tough, grueling job. Police officers see all sides and aspects of human life. They witness people’s behavior at its best, and at its worst. They laugh, they fight, and they hurt—all in an eight-hour shift. Their job is to protect the citizens within their jurisdictions. To do so, they’re sworn to enforce the laws of their communities and of their state and country. That’s it. That’s all they’re required to do.

No one orders a cop to spend a few minutes talking to a lonely, elderly person whose spouse of 50 years has recently passed away.  It’s not a requirement of an officer’s job to hold the hand of a sick drug addict, or to cry when a child is injured. They don’t have to work 36 hours straight, for free, while searching for someone’s little girl that didn’t come home after school. The job is an emotional roller coaster. It’s a career that’s brimming with pain, hurt, and sorrow. And that, Southland fans, is what makes Sammy run…

Now on with the review.

They’re back—the killers with the pointed-toe cowboy boots. And this time they shoot a couple of guys in a crowded nightclub. Investigators arrive to work the scene and we hear quite a bit of joking and clowning around. This is normal. Cops do what they have to do to deal with day-in and day-out death. It’s not meant to be disrespectful to the victims or their families. Not at all. It’s merely a coping mechanism for the officers.

– Detectives are seen during a brainstorming session in front of a large whiteboard. This is good stuff. I had one in my office for the same purpose. My partner and I spent many hours hashing out theories and ideas over the material on the board. Many cases have been solved in this manner. We also used the board for pre-search warrant/raid briefing sessions. Very realistic.

– A detective’s daughter was in the club when the shooting occurred, and she was sprayed with blood spatter from one of the victims. The spatter looked genuine. In fact, the angle of impact of the drops and droplets were depicted accurately. So accurate that I could almost picture a point of convergence. Great eye for detail.

– Sammy is shown trying to mentor a kid who’s teetering on the fence between good and bad. He takes the time to go to the kid’s house to speak with the boy’s mother. He takes the boy to a movie and to a restaurant. He’s trying to do all the right things, but the kid still manages to fall onto the bad side of the fence where he shoots and kills another kid. Unfortunately, the boy has been brought up in that type environment and lifestyle, which all to often becomes the only way of life they know how to lead. It’s like training to be a cop. Instructors drill the same information into their heads, day in and day out, until it’s ingrained into their minds. No longer do they have to stop and think before acting on a specific situation. Instead, they react instinctively. The same is true for kids who’ve been brought up on the streets. It’s all they know, and what they know is what they’ll do. Every time. Again, I can’t say enough good things about the writers and actors of this show. They’ve really done their homework. They may not admit it, but somebody from this show has lived this life. I know, because I’ve been there, too.

– I liked the scene where Cooper snatched the Ipod from the guy taking the upskirt photos. Not exactly legal, but I’m sure I’d have done the same thing (breaking the phone, not taking the photo).

– There’s a domestic call that Cooper and Sherman answer, and guess who’s at the heart of it? Yep, it’s the pointy-toe-cowboy-boots folks. Cooper tells Ben that they’re going to search inside the residence to make sure there’s no one inside who’s injured, or possibly dead. This is a legal search, without a warrant, but only if they search for people, not “things.” This type search is for the safety of everyone involved—officers and residents. All too often, an attacker lies in wait, sending the terrified victim outside to tell officers that all is well. Then, after the officers leave the attack continues. But, all sorts of evidence is discovered during these searches, such as the nearly 4 million dollars in cash that Ben discovered.


– Once the cash and guns are found (legally, because the lump looked like a person lying under the blanket) Cooper runs outside and yells, “Hook ’em up (handcuff them).” This was the right thing to do. Those two killers knew it was only a matter of time before officers found their stash, and they’d certainly have no problem killing someone to get away.

– During the search a cellphone rings and one of the detectives answers. I’ve done this many, many times. I’ve also responded to messages left on pagers. Once, I even told a guy to come by the residence we’d just raided because I wanted to buy some dope from him. He did, and we arrested the big dummy. After all, he’d only walked by five or six police cars to come calling with a big ‘ol bag of dope in his jacket pocket.

This episode continued with two other raids—Trinney’s place and of a boat used for drug smuggling. The entry/raid teams carried out the procedure pretty much like a real team would.

Officers discovered Trinney’s severed head in a box, and again made jokes about the horror they’d stumbled upon. That’s probably what real cops would do to cope if faced with a similar scenario. Sure, it would bother anyone to find something that gruesome, but when you see things like that on a regular basis…well, you have to deal with it somehow.

Once again, this show tops the list when it comes to realism. Each week I feel as if I’m back on the job, chasing bad guys with Cooper and Sherman. Great show!

By the way, the print of Ben’s vest can be clearly seen in the photo above. This show is all about detail.

Read more
Castle: Boom – A Review of the Police Procedure

My goodness, where do we start? I know you’re always supposed to begin with something nice before dropping the bomb (pun intended), like Paula Abdul used to do on American Idol. Before telling some caterwauling off-key crooner they’d be better off cleaning sewers with a toothbrush than trying to sing for a living, Paula would offer a few kind words, like “Your one big ear looks exceptionally lovely tonight,” or “The color of your house is really nice.” So, I guess I should do the same, because this wasn’t pretty.

I could begin by saying, “At least Lainie Parrish wasn’t on the show.” But I’m thinking that might not have been a bad thing. In fact, an appearance by the M.E. would have been a huge improvement over the horrible condescending FBI character played by Dana Delaney. What a totally unbelievable person! Hers was the worst character to have ever appeared on this series. I simply could not get into the show at all knowing that every single word out of her mouth was going to be irritating, or something totally false about police work. And that’s a shame, because I normally enjoy the banter between Beckett and Castle. I also like the heat that’s generated between those two. But not in these two episodes. I simply could not get past this totally unrealistic FBI person.

Oh, I’d better say this again before my email box fills with threats and nasty notes. This review is strictly about the POLICE PROCEDURE used on the show. Yes, I do know the show is fiction. No, I’m not trying to get the show canceled. No, I do not hate any of the actors or writing staff. We do this review because people asked us to write them. They wanted to know if what they see on this show is true, or not. They wanted to know if cops really do the things they see on Castle? Well, our job was very easy this week and last, because basically nothing you saw in either episode was realistic. Horrible is the word that comes to mind.

Anyway, let’s have a look.

– I think everyone predicted that Beckett had weathered out the explosion by taking cover in her bathtub, which is exactly what happened. I suppose that could work. Why not? In the first season someone drowned in a bathtub filled with motor oil.

– Not-So-Special Agent Shaw tells Beckett, “My rules. You do what I say, when I say it, and how I say it.” Puleeze…The FBI has absolutely no authority over local law enforcement officers. None. Take a hike, woman. And take that magic board with you, too.

– Agent Shaw (rolling my eyes) pokes around the mounds of burned-beyond-recognition debris in Beckett’s apartment and comes up with a pea-size piece of evidence—the thing that caused the explosion. What exactly is this so-called agent’s job? Is she a profiler or an arson expert? What led her to the spot where she found the evidence? You don’t just dig through ash at random. There are specific clues—telltale signs— that lead investigators to the hot spots.

– I actually laughed out loud when I saw the bullet clinging to the brick wall in a huge circle of bright red blood that looked as if someone had spray-painted it there. The tip of the round was barely damaged and didn’t even chip the soft brick. It was just…well, stuck there. The crime scenes in Who Framed Roger Rabbit were more believable. And that blood…give me a break. Why are they suddenly dumbing down this show? Is there a No Viewer Left Behind program we didn’t know about?

– Beckett and Castle go into a bar (nope, not the opening of a joke) and see a huge banner advertising the serial killer. Beckett tells the barkeep she has to take it down because the case is still ongoing. What? The police don’t have that authority. Not yet, anyway.

– The goofy FBI surveillance team surrounds the killer’s apartment. Sure, they’re all in undercover garb, dressed as restaurant customers, letter carriers, etc., but they each have those wacky earpieces hanging from their heads, and their actions are as obvious as sore thumbs. And it got worse when Beckett announces that she’s seen the guy on the roof. The UC’s (undercover) immediately begin reaching for their weapons and talking into hidden microphones. Well, the killer is no dummy. He picked up on those not-so-subtle movements right away and flees.

– Agent Shaw tells Beckett she’s off the case. Beckett’s captain even backs the FBI agent’s order. Again, she has no authority over Beckett. In fact, the case should have been Beckett’s to work, not the FBI’s.

– The captain tells Beckett she’s too close to the case to be involved. This much was true. She shouldn’t have been involved in the investigation once it was known that she was the target.

– Well, it looks like Beckett borrowed Lainie Parrish’s crystal ball. Somehow, she magically knew, from looking at a couple of blood drops on the ceiling of Agent Shaw’s SUV, that the agent had elbowed her kidnapper, giving him a bloody nose. The attacker then recoiled from the pain, which caused blood from his nose to spurt onto the ceiling of the car. Then, Beckett tracked huge blood puddles to a couple of tires tracks on the pavement. Beckett then said, “He had a gun on her and forced her to a waiting car.” How did she know he had a gun? Why not a knife? Or a slingshot? Or nothing?

– What can I say about the FBI’s magic board that was able to locate the killer’s hideout using a blurry image of a bridge tower outside a window. Perhaps someone should type in Bin Laden’s name. I’m sure Agent Shaw would have him in custody in a matter of minutes. Seriously, the thing that bothered me most about this can-do-everything board was that it was a cheating tool for the writers. They didn’t have to put forth any effort to solve the crime. When they reached a point where they wanted to be lazy they merely had the agent consult the magic mirror for answers. We were cheated.

– Who didn’t see the totally predictable ending coming our way—the agent getting rescued by Castle and Beckett with Castle shooting the suspect? Castle shooting the gun out of the guy’s hand was silly, but it wasn’t as ridiculous as the rest of the show.

By the way, Castle said he was aiming for the guy’s head when he shot the gun out of the guy’s hand, right? If that was the case, chances are he’d have missed entirely because guns tend to rise when fired, especially when they’re fired by someone who’s not used to shooting.

I really feel bad that I had nothing good to say about these last two episodes. I’m sure there was something in all the hogwash that was worth watching, but I couldn’t seem to see around the FBI agent. Besides, she really made Beckett seem submissive, which should have never happened.

And, the agent’s duties were all wrong, her equipment was silly, and she was overboard obnoxious and condescending. To me, the killer was much nicer. I’d rather endure two root canals than watch another show featuring her character. I certainly hope we never see her again.

I know, let’s ask the guys what they thought about these two episodes…

That’s what I thought.

Read more
And The Winner Is???

We have a winner!

Last week we asked you to send us your questions for Michael Cudlitz, star of TNT’s gritty police drama, Southland. All the entries were quite good, which made the panel’s decision very difficult, so we’re pleased to say the winner is (drum roll) Melanie Atkins.

Melanie – “I love Southland. Michael, do you ever find yourself reacting like a law enforcement officer in real life? I’ve read that other actors, some of the Law & Order folks, to be specific, have had that instinct kick in and have taken control in emergency situations.”

Melanie, your question will be forwarded to Michael for answering on the Southland Facebook page on April 5, 2010, and again later on the TNT,tv website. Your DVD will be shipped to you by the good folks at TNT (please contact me via email to work out shipping details).

Remember, folks, Season 2 of the gritty police drama SouthLand is in full swing on Tuesdays 9/10c on TNT. Our reviews of the show are posted each Wednesday morning. Please show your support by watching.

* Prizes are supplied by the SouthLand Team at TNT.

Please check back often for more Southland contests. We have another one brewing right now! By the way, TNT has generously donated DVD’s for the Writers’ Police Academy raffle. And, one of those DVD’s has been signed by the cast!

*     *     *


There is only one spot left in the Writers’ Police Academy FATS training. Sign up today!

Read more
Weekend Road Trip: The Cotswolds, England

My friend, Paul Beecroft, has spent a good deal of his life in law enforcement, in England. He’s worked Foot Patrol, Area Car, Instant Response Car and also as a Police Motorcyclist. He’s currently a coroner’s investigator and has traveled all over England, Wales, Scotland and even Germany to investigate crimes.

Today, let’s leave the world of cops and robbers and join Paul as he takes us on a trip to The Cotswolds, in England. Please enjoy.

Paul – “A few years back I jointly wrote, with a friend, a biography about a Falconer from the past who was sadly KIA in France during WWII. On Monday last I went to an area of England known as The Cotswolds and visited the home where the person subject of the bio lived. The house is no longer owned by the family and is in fact split up into apartments. Very little though has changed, certainly externally. Although not obvious the current tenants have done a lot of work to try and preserve this huge old English house.”

Driveway leading up to the entrance.

House from a distance.

Side View

Rear view


Chapel at rear of house. Built 1140-1150 but restoration has taken place over the years.

Inside chapel.

The old Kennels area.

Nearby stream.

It was also Lambing season.

Local views

Read more
Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

The Graveyard Shift extends its condolences to the families of each of these brave police officers.

Sergeant Ira G. Essoe Sr., 69

Orange County Sheriff’s Department

February 4, 2010 – Sgt. Ira G. Essoe, Sr. succumbed to complications from gunshot wounds he received in November 1980. He and his partner had attempted to stop three men from breaking into a car in a mall parking lot when all three suspects opened fire on Sgt. Essoe, striking him twice. Sergeant Essoe survived by his wife and three children.

Sgt. Essoe (seated) is pictured with his son and grandson, both who serve with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Officer Brian Walsh, 34

Federal Way, Wa. Police Department

March 21, 2010 – After responding to an officer-involved shooting, Officer Brian Walsh suffered a fatal heart attack. He is survived by his expectant wife and two childrem.

Ranger Kenneth Betancourt, 29

Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources

Ranger Félix Rodríguez, 31

Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources

March 23, 2010 – Ranger Félix Rodríguez and Ranger Kenneth Betancourt were shot and killed during an apparent robbery attempt at the Department of Natural and Environment Resources in San Juan.

Ranger Betancourt is survived by his two young children.

Officer David Haynes, 27

St. Louis Missouri Police Department

March 24, 2010 – Officer David Haynes was killed in an automobile accident during a vehicle pursuit of a burglary suspect. He is survived by his wife.

*Thanks to ODMP and The St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

*     *     *

Would you like to win the entire first season of Southland on DVD? How about having the opportunity to ask Michael Cudlitz (John Cooper) that question that’s been bugging you since the show first aired? Well here’s your chance. Check out the details straight from the folks at TNT.

Let SouthLAnd Star Michael Cudlitz Answer Your Question and Win Season 1 on DVD!

Season 2 of the gritty police drama SouthLand is in full swing on Tuesdays 9/10c on TNT, and we have special access to the show’s star, Michael Cudlitz. We’d like to come up with the most creative and original question possible – and that’s where you come in!

Send your question to Michael via this post by Friday 3/26/2010. Ask anything you like, but the winning question must be creative and original and must not have already been covered at:

The winner will receive Season 1 of SouthLAnd on DVD and will have their question answered online by Michael Cudlitz.

* Prizes are supplied by the SouthLand Team at TNT.

Read more
Glo-Gloves: Let Me See Your Hands

Working traffic accidents at night has always been a safety problem. For whatever reason—fatigue, driving while impaired, talking on cell phones, rubbernecking, etc.—drivers often fail to see officers standing in the roadway when they’re tending to the injured, investigating the accident, or even directing traffic.

Police uniforms are normally dark—deep blue or black, and rightfully so. They don’t want to stand out like a human bull’s eye at night. However, dark uniforms are counter-productive during the times when officers really need to be highly visible—while directing traffic and working automobile accidents. To increase visibility officers wear reflective gear, such as vests and raincoats.

Most officers keep their equipment, including their safety vests, flares, and traffic cones, inside the trunks of their patrol vehicles. Vests are quite visible when illuminated by oncoming headlights. Flares light up small patches of roadway, and bright orange cones are okay. But these are all fixed objects, which is what etches into a motorist’s mind—all those brightly colored, reflective things are inanimate objects. After all, they’re not moving, right? The same is true for the officer who’s standing in the midst of a sea of orange. That big orange thing isn’t moving, so it must be a safety device.

There are two very simple solutions to the problem. Officers can hop up and down so drivers can tell they’re not part of the safety equipment. Or, they can wear reflective gloves that highlight their hand movements. A simple wave of an illuminated hand alerts the driver that what he’s seeing is a human, and not a tall traffic cone.

Enter…Glo Gloves. Officers can slip on a pair before getting out of the car, an act that also provides a measure of safety while they’re walking to the trunk to grab the other safety equipment.

Glo Gloves are made from stretchable nylon/Spandex to allow for a comfortable fit, and the flexible material affords maximum mobility and dexterity. Great idea, huh? I just hope officers don’t mistake them for their regular gloves and accidentally slip them on during a nighttime stakeout!

*     *     *

Would you like to win the entire first season of Southland on DVD? How about having the opportunity to ask Michael Cudlitz (John Cooper) that question that’s been bugging you since the show first aired? Well here’s your chance. Check out the details straight from the folks at TNT.

Let SouthLAnd Star Michael Cudlitz Answer Your Question and Win Season 1 on DVD!

Season 2 of the gritty police drama SouthLand is in full swing on Tuesdays 9/10c on TNT, and we have special access to the show’s star, Michael Cudlitz. We’d like to come up with the most creative and original question possible – and that’s where you come in!

Send your question to Michael via this post by Friday 3/26/2010. Ask anything you like, but the winning question must be creative and original and must not have already been covered at:

The winner will receive Season 1 of SouthLAnd on DVD and will have their question answered online by Michael Cudlitz.

* Prizes are supplied by the SouthLand Team at TNT.

Read more