Hey, guys. It’s been a while. How are you? You look great.
Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that I LOVE the Shield. Because I’ve gotten them to watch it or am still currently nagging them to watch it. It’s one of my top 3 TV shows of all time. It follows Vic Mackey, an LA police officer and his task force who go into business for themselves a lot, committing probably as many crimes as they prevent. But Vic is the linchpin that holds the whole thing together. One of my favorite lines from the series comes when Vic discovers one of his guys went rogue and did something horrific and he responds by saying “I was just following your gameplan, COACH!” It was powerful and it hurt Vic like hell to hear it. It’s the only show I can look to that ran seven seasons and something that happens in the pilot is still totally in play until the finale. The gravity of the pilot is always looming large until the finale. The meat of the show most times is Vic and his double dealings with all the gangs in LA. He has his hands in their action a bit, the big dogs stay out of jail. Fair trade.
Gang Related is a poor man’s Shield. It’s a BANKRUPT man’s Shield. Terry O’Quinn from LOST plays the Vic Mackey role, for lack of a better comparison. He’s Vic in rank and baldness only, really. He’s the leader of a similar task force designed to take out gang activity. It’s kind of a shame because he’s a quite capable actor and he’s given fucking nothing to do here.
The show centers around our protagonist? antagonist? Prantagonist? Ryan Lopez, who is on the task force, but for reasons that are never really made clear beyond “After all our family has done for you!”, his real loyalty lies with gang leader Javier Acosta. In a scene pulled straight from the Shield pilot’s deleted and then burned scenes, Ryan’s drunk partner chases a tagger into a warehouse and when Ryan follows suit, he finds his partner shot and dying. The shooter: Javier’s loose cannon son, Carlos. The task force later finds and arrests him, but Ryan locates and takes the weapon, leaving them without evidence to hold him. Carlos is ready to rat Ryan out if he spends a day in jail, so Ryan is helpless. You can tell that he’s supposed to be conflicted as he aspires to be both like O’Quinn’s character and Acosta, but frankly, the actor just ain’t that good.
A few notes:
Towards the end, we’re introduced to a man who is investigating Ryan’s actions regarding his partner’s death. This man is played by Jay Karnes. Dutch from…The Shield. Coincidence?
It’s interesting to note that Terry O’Quinn is really the only primary character in the show who’s white. That’s kind of refreshing.
There’s a pretty little action sequence involving a land mine being placed on a moving armored car. The Shield couldn’t afford shit like that, and frankly, they didn’t need it.
Bottom Line: If Fox thought that Gang Related was network TV’s answer to The Shield, they wouldn’t have debuted it in May. Granted, I’ve only seen the pilot, but it’s just too shiny to achieve the grit that they so desperately seem to want. This is basically Criminal Minds with a gimmick. And with Fargo, Mad Men and 24 back on the air, I don’t have time for this crap.