Clark Johnson, D.J.Caruso, Guy Ferland
Michael Chiklis, CCH Pounder, Jay Karnes
has released the whole of the first season of The Shield, as a
four-disc box set.
it was released, though, there were at least three other promotional DVDs
issued by FX during the first season's original run: an Emmy "For
Your Consideration" promotional disc
containing the Pilot, Blowback, Pay in Pain and Cupid
and Psycho (pictured, left); a disc containing episodes 5,6 and 7 (Blowback,
Cherrypoppers and Pay in Pain); and a two-disc set which contained
the last six episodes of the season (pictured, left).
None of these discs is
available commercially, although copies of all of them have turned up on
auction sites like Ebay, and, since the Complete First Season box set was
released, prices have dropped significantly. A disc containing the first
two episodes from the second series has also been released.
Emmy "For Your Consideration" disc has straightforward animated menus, featuring
a slideshow-type display of the nominations the series was hoping
for. The picture is full-frame, and the audio is 2.0 stereo (at 192kbps).
The transfer is very good, with minimal MPEG artefacts. The episodes
occasionally have a "REVIEW SCREENING COPY ONLY - PROPERTY OF
FX" subtitle pop up for a few seconds, but this is rarely intrusive
(being a subtitle, it may be possible to turn this off with some players,
Emmy disc originally came in a swanky gift box, which included the Shield disc,
a DVD of the TV movie Sins of the Father, and VHS copies of the two
discs. The box was fitted with an "Television in a New Light"
panel which lit up when the box was opened (or, at least it was supposed
to, but apparently the battery usually came loose in transit!)
series was nominated for three Emmy awards: Homicide: Life on the
Street star Clark Johnson was nominated for his direction of the Pilot;
creator Shawn Ryan was nominated for writing the Pilot; and Michael
Chiklis as was nominated for - and won - the Outstanding Lead Actor in a
Drama Series award.
Shield - The Complete First Season box set is one of the best TV
collections available, putting similar offerings from series like The
X-Files and Buffy The Vampire Slayer to shame. Each episode
comes with a commentary track, often featuring one or more of the show's
key cast members, and a combination of writers, producers and directors.
Some of the commentary tracks are themed (there's one with members of the
Strike Team, and another with post-production crewmembers, for example),
giving a broad overview of the show's production. The commentary tracks
are expertly handled. Often series creator Shawn Ryan is on hand,
frequently asking intelligent questions (and, even better, he seems well
attuned to asking questions that the audience might be interested in
hearing the answers to). This is a rare skill - all too often people doing
commentary tracks focus on the specifics, and rarely touch on subjects
that people inside the industry simply take for granted. Once in a while
this means that something interesting that's happening on-screen passes
without comment, but this is more than outweighed by the quality of
discourse on offer (they keep the ass-kissing to a minimum, too, savvy to
the traps that many commentary tracks fall prey to). There's a lot of fun
had by all, and yet the audience never ends up scratching their heads at
in-jokes they're not privy to (on one of the episodes, he reveals to one
of the actors how close his character came to being written out after the Pilot,
at the suggestion of the network suits!)
There are also
two featurettes, offering interesting behind the scenes material and
on-set interviews: Making of The Shield (21m), and The
Shield FX Featurette (a 2'30" season two teaser). The
original Pilot script is also offered, as are short
clips from all the lead actor's audition tapes. There are also seventeen
deleted scenes, spread right across the season. Many of these are extensions
to scenes that ended up in the finished episode, mostly cut for time
restrictions (a couple were dropped for other reasons, such as episodes
being switched around in the running order). There are several nice
character moments on offer, as well as nice scenes like the payoff to the
scenes in the pilot lamenting the lack of toilet facilities). The most
interesting is the complete version of a pivotal scene from the end of the
last episode, which is presented just as it was filmed, in a single
emotionally-shattering shot. Each scene is introduced by Shawn Ryan, who
explains why they were discarded, and puts them into the context of the
deleted scenes are all presented in non-anamorphic widescreen format,
suggesting that the entire series was shot protected for 16:9 presentation
(there's a moment on the commentary track where the cinematographer is
invited to reveal what the show's technical spec's are, but the
conversation moves on before he says what the intended ratio is - the show
is shot in Super 16 format). To my knowledge the series has only ever been
aired in 4:3 (cropped) format, even here in the UK where there's a general
acceptance for 16:9 presentation on digital broadcast platforms. No doubt
this will be the cause of some controversy, but in truth the widescreen
clips, while making the show look a bit more cinematic, generally have
nothing of any significance at the sides of the frame. The full-frame
presentation makes the series a more intimate experience.
Picture quality on the
episodes is comparable to the Emmy promotional discs: not as good as you'd
expect from an A-grade feature film, but is certainly better than most TV
series (like many TV series transfers, the colours are generally too
"hot", but at least The Shield transfers don't suffer as
much from the horrendous grain that plagues sets like Malcolm in the Middle and
Sex and the City).
worth noting that the version of the Pilot contained on the Emmy
promo' disc is apparently the episode as it originally aired on the FX
channel. The version on the Complete First Season box set (which,
incidentally, is the same as the version screened by Channel 5 when it
premiered in the UK) is slightly re-edited.
are two differences to the scene where
Detective Wyms (C.C.H.Pounder) and 'Dutch' (Jay Karnes) are investigating
the murder of a woman. The Complete First Season box set version
has a single establishing shot of the woman's naked body (see
screen-grabs, below). From then on you only see her feet, or her head (in
the background of a shot where the camera is focused on her daughter's
photograph). The establishing shot is longer on the Emmy DVD version,
which cuts straight to a rather startling overhead shot of the body.
Technically there's nothing missing in the Complete First Season box
set version - the dialogue is the same, and part of the establishing shot,
and all of the overhead shot have simply been replaced by extra shots of
the detectives instead.
establishing shot is in both versions of the Pilot, although it's substantially shorter
on the version on the Complete First Season box set.
shot is missing from the version of the Pilot in the Complete
First Season box set, replaced by shots of the two detectives which
aren't in the Emmy DVD version.