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20th Century Fox presents
The Shield: Season 3 (2004)

"We never should've taken that money."
- Curtis Lemansky (Kenny Johnson)

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: March 16, 2005

Stars: Michael Chiklis, CCH Pounder, Walton Goggins, Benito Martinez, Jay Karnes, Michael Jace, Catherine Dent
Other Stars: Kenny Johnson, Cathy Cahlin Ryan, David Rees Snell, Brian J. White, Matt Gerald, Autumn Chiklis
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (contains language, violence, sexual situations, and adult themes)
Run Time: 11h:40m:00s
Release Date: February 22, 2005
UPC: 024543130826
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AB+B+ A

DVD Review

The Shield premiered in March 2002 on the F/X Network, and the intense police drama quickly gained abundant praise from critics and audiences. Entering its third season, the series faced extremely high expectations following 26 episodes that rarely veered into conventional territory. Before proceeding any further, the uninitiated should stop reading and immediately rent the first two seasons. While I will not reveal any major spoilers from this year, the descriptions will contain surprises from past episodes.

The second season closed with a stunning developmentóthe Strike Team actually succeeded in robbing millions from an Armenian money train. Headed by Detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), the four cops faced numerous obstacles and near-defeats, but their persistence resulted in wealth beyond their imagination. Mackey and his cohorts Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins), Curtis ďLemonheadĒ Lemansky (Kenny Johnson), and Ronnie Gardocki (David Rees Snell) spend their days working on both sides of the law. They do solve crimes and bring criminals to justice, but they also play by a different set of rules than the typical crime fighter. The money-train theft is their most daring escapade and could lead to ultimate destruction. While the noose tightens around their necks, the Strike Team struggles fiercely to avoid capture and will go to considerable lengths to protect themselves.

The second season finale also included the dismissal of Danny (Catherine Dent), one of the seriesí most popular characters, due to departmental budget considerations. Thankfully, she does return to the squad this year, but is less willing to stick her neck out for fellow cops. Her former partner Julien was viciously beaten by several comrades who discovered his homosexuality, and he returns with a gigantic chip on his shoulder. Captain Aceveda (Benito Martinez) begins the year six months away from election to the City Council, but he may not be ready to exit just yet. He continues to investigate Vicís actions and will become a more-difficult adversary this season.

Much of this seriesí success is due to the remarkable work of Jay Karnes and CCH Pounder as Detectives Dutch Wagenbach and Claudette Wyms. Their interaction drives the show and provides an alternative to the Strike Teamís actions. However, both of these characters are not saints either, and this three-dimensional atmosphere helps the show to succeed every week. Vic also is not an evil figure and cares deeply about his family, but he does commit immoral acts. I find it difficult to choose between hoping for his arrest or escape from suspicion. Vic deserves punishment for his crimes, but he does help to rid the streets of crime. No clear distinction exists between good and evil, and this ambiguity pushes the show into compelling territory.

The Shield: Season Three remains as unpredictable as past years and continues to push its characters into thorny situations. After a few solid early episodes, the intensity reaches a feverish pitch with two stunning moments. A minor clash between two detectives in Streaks and Tips escalates into a nasty showdown. Mum places the captain into an impossible situation that drastically alters his perspective. As the season progresses, tensions within the Strike Team increase and create a rift that might be unfixable. In addition, Dutch investigates a series of rapes that will bring him face to face with his own fears. Numerous other intriguing events occur, and only a few tedious moments appear. The regular cast remains top-notch, and the guest actors inject additional energy to the mix. More detailed information appears in the following episode descriptions:

Playing Tight
Directed By: Clark Johnson
Written By: Shawn Ryan and Kurt Sutter
Guest Stars: Sticky Fingaz as Kern Little, Chris Williams as Agent Quigley, Vincent Angell as Owen Thigpen, Michelle Hicks as Mara Sewell, Matt Gerald as Tommy Hisk

Following the Strike Teamís successful heist of millions from an Armenian money train, Vic instructs them to lie low and stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, the beginnings of a nasty gang war between the Byz Latz and the One-Niners could alter these plans. Their problems increase when the Armenians start brutally murdering their own in search of the money-train cash. Julian also returns to duty after the beating and considers action against the culprits. Aceveda offers Danny her job back, with a few extra considerations. This complex episode immediately reveals that life might not be so rosy for the Strike Team with their newfound wealth. It doesnít miss a beat from the previous season and keeps the story moving effectively.

This impressive season premiere deserves 4 out of 5 shields.





Blood and Water
Directed By: Clark Johnson
Written By: Charles H. Eglee and Kim Clements
Guest Stars: Sticky Fingaz as Kern Little, Michelle Hicks as Mara Sewell, Guillermo Diaz as Garza, Jeremy Ray Valdez as Esteban, Ron Canada as Tom Bankston, Matt Gerald as Tommy Hisk

Still attempting to halt the gang war and remove the MP5s from the street, the Strike Team poses as neo-nazis to purchase the guns. Vicís decision to use the money-train cash blows up in their face, which leaves the guys scrambling to reacquire it. Meanwhile, Dutch and Claudette investigate a drive-by shooting related to the conflict. Their witness appears different than the typical gang member, but his ties raise some questions. This episode offers some tense moments for the Strike Team and their dealings with the crazy Garza, played well by Guillermo Diaz. Itís a bit plot-heavy to match the best stories, but still offers some memorable scenes.

This solid episode receives 3.5 out of 5 shields.





Bottom Bitch
Directed By: Scott Brazil
Written By: Scott Rosenbaum and Adam E. Fierro
Guest Stars: Efrain Figueroa as Jorge Machado, Nicki Macheux as Detective Trish George, Mageina Tovah as Farrah, Gareth Williams as Detective Waylon Burke, Michele Hicks as Mara Sewell
Commentary: Scott Brazil, Michael Chiklis, Adam E. Fierro, and Michael Jace

Vicís regrets about Connie come back to haunt him when heís forced to work directly with another prostitute. The extremely skinny and young Farrah makes things especially difficult and nearly pushes him over the edge. Shaneís girlfriend Mara shuts him out with no explanation, which provides a big distraction. Another problem is the transfer of the Decoy Squad, who quickly become formidable adversaries for the Strike Team. Meanwhile, Dutch investigates a disturbing rape of an elderly woman that will haunt him for much of the season. This episode involves several tough subjects and is not an easy viewing, but its connection to the past creates some interesting drama.

Mageina Tovah definitely needs to eat more. This entry receives 3 out of 5 shields.





Streaks and Tips
Directed By: Scott Brazil
Written By: Glen Mazzara
Guest Stars: Nicki Macheux as Detective Trish George, Gareth Williams as Detective Waylon Burke, Kimberly McCoulough as Deena, Vincent Angell as Owen Thigpen, Michelle Hicks as Mara Sewell

In one of the seasonís most exciting episodes, the Strike Team and Decoy Squad both scramble to apprehend the shooter in a car-jacking case. Each group is trying to prove their worth, and an embarrassing bet raises the stakes. Meanwhile, tensions continue to rise between Shane and Tavon, leading to a shocking confrontation. This scene is especially harrowing, and the end result will dramatically affect both participants. Any thoughts of the series slipping a bit disappear after this episode, which is gripping from start to finish.

Iím still haunted by this storyís finale. The episode earns 4.5 out of 5 shields.





Mum
Directed By: Nick Gomez
Written By: Kurt Sutter and Shawn Ryan
Guest Stars: Vincent Angell as Owen Thigpen, Peggy Miley as Lou-Anne Klopp, Kurt Caceres as Juan Rizano, Benjamin Parrillo as Lyle Dockman, Michelle Hicks as Mara Sewell
Commentary: Walton Goggins, Michele Hicks, Benito Martinez, Shawn Ryan, and Kurt Sutter

In yet another stunning episode, Aceveda discovers a clue about the money train that could lead him to the Strike Team. Instead, he faces a life-or-death situation that will traumatize him for the entire season. Meanwhile, Vic canít seem to maneuver out from under Claudetteís grip to regain his prior stature at the Barn. Dutch and Claudette discover additional victims of the serial rapist and have few clues as to his identity. This story retains the intensity of its predecessor and once again presents the Strike Team scrambling to avoid capture by Aceveda. While theyíve managed to avoid huge problems in the past, it may not be so easy this time.

Another top-notch episode! This entry also receives 4.5 out of 5 shields.





Posse Up
Directed By: Felix Enriquez Alcala
Written By: Charles H. Eglee and Kim Clements
Guest Stars: Matt Gerald as Tommy Hisk, Nicki Micheux as Detective Trish George, Vincent Angell as Owen Thigpen, Mia Wesley as Gail Linley, J.C. McKenzie as Detective Kouf, Tommy Hinkley as Captain Steve Briggs, Camilia Sanes as Aurora Aceveda

The cops gear up for a manhunt following the brutal murder of Tommyís (Julienís ex-partner) ex-wife and child. Vic and Julien lead the charge and may sidestep the law to locate the killer, which places them in conflict with Danny. When Tommy becomes a suspect, the squad works to clear his name, but he may not be so innocent. Meanwhile, Aceveda struggles to deal with his recent traumatic incident, and Vic suspects that his ex-wife may consider his sonís teacher more than the hired help. This impressive episode once again presents the gray areas that cops must tread when pursuing a suspect. It also includes a remarkable final sequence with the Strike Team searching for a way to secure the success of the money-train heist. This task will not become any easier as the season progresses.

Life as a cop is rough. This episode receives 4 out 5 shields.





Safe
Directed By: Peter Horton
Written By: Adam E. Fierro
Guest Stars: Nicki Micheux as Detective Trish George, Gareth Williams as Detective Waylon Burke, Natalie Zea as Lauren Riley, Luis Robledo as Otilio Ramirez, Michelle Hicks as Mara Sewell

The Strike Team focuses its energy on cracking the safe in Acevedaís office without being noticed, which becomes very difficult. Meanwhile, a Narco Corrido song reveals the locations of multiple dead bodies caused by fumes from a meth lab. While Vic and his fellow cops search for the killer, he also strikes up a possible relationship with the attractive Lauren. Also, Aceveda continues to struggle with thoughts about his encounter, and his judgment appears clouded. Once again, this episode depicts Vicís ability to improvise and use every situation to achieve the Strike Teamís goals.

This solid episode receives 3.5 out of 5 shields.





Cracking Ice
Directed By: Guy Ferland
Written By: Charles H. Eglee and Diego Guiterrez
Guest Stars: Nicki Micheux as Detective Trish George, Gareth Williams as Detective Waylon Burke, Natalie Zea as Lauren Riley, Matt Gerald as Tommy Hisk, Michelle Hicks as Mara, Khary Payton as Kaleil ďLilí PsychĒ Wilks
Commentary: Charles H. Eglee, Guy Ferland, Matt Gerald, CCH Pounder and Gareth Williams

A mistake by Claudette helps to blow Waylonís cover, which places Trish in serious danger. While the squad scrambles to locate her, she must do anything to keep her cover intact. Meanwhile, suspicions abound on the Strike Team when $7,000 of the money is missing and no one admits his involvement. Tommy returns to the Barn and contemplates a drastic action when his future as a cop appears bleak. Dutch and Danny stake out a neighborhood looking for a rapist, but instead they discover the activities of an odd married couple. This frenetic episode moves at a breakneck pace and effectively balances the multiple stories into a convincing story. Nicki Micheux does an excellent job throughout the season as Trish, and this is one of her best performances.

This strong entry deserves 4 out of 5 shields.





Slipknot
Directed By: Michael Chiklis
Written By: Kurt Sutter
Guest Stars: Nicki Micheux as Detective Trish George, Gareth Williams as Detective Waylon Burke, Camilla Sanes as Aurora Aceveda, Vincent Angell as Owen Thigpen, Rashaan Nall as Tobar
Commentary: Michael Chiklis, Walton Goggins, Kenny Johnson, and David Snell

When an African-American kid not affiliated with the gangs receives a lynching, racial tensions rise to a feverish pitch in Farmington. The animosity between several gangs becomes even greater when a Latino priest is brutally murdered. When the Waylon and the Decoy Squad again clash with Claudette, Vic spots an opportunity to regain power in the department. Shane also discovers details about Maraís recent actions that could seriously jeopardize the Strike Teamís future. Tensions continue to rise within the department, and the result is a fast-moving, exciting tale. Once again, we witness Vicís clever maneuvers to retain his essential status at the Barn.

This episode receives 3.5 out of 5 shields.





What Power IsÖ
Directed By: Dean White
Written By: Kim Clements
Guest Stars: Michelle Hicks as Mara Sewell, Camilia Sanes as Aurora Aceveda, Rif Hutton as James Freeman, Kurt Caceres as Juan Rizano, Larry Sullivan as Detective Craig Milne, Rebecca Pigeon as Joanna Faulks, Clark Gregg as William Faulks
Commentary: Benito Martinez, Michael Jace, Jay Karnes, and Dead White

Aceveda performs a daring feat and stops a convenience-story robbery by shooting one of the assailants, but our captainís appearance is not random. The thug is one of the two guys involved with Acevedaís traumatic encounter. The Strike Team assists him in locating the other suspect and worry that the investigation could lead back to them. Meanwhile, Dutch and Claudette catch a break in the rapist investigation that could lead to the killer. Benito Martinez gives one of his best performances in this nerve-wrenching depiction of possible retribution.

Will Aceveda gain his revenge? Finding this answer leads to one of the seasonís best episodes. This entry receives 4.5 out of 5 shields.





Strays
Directed By: David Mamet
Written By: Glen Mazzara
Guest Stars: Rebecca Pigeon as Joanna Faulks, Clark Gregg as William Faulks, Vicelleous Reon Shannon as Trick, Natalie Zea as Lauren Riley, DeLane Matthews as Stella Sewell, Michelle Hicks as Mara Sewell
Commentary: Catherine Dent, Jay Karnes, Glenn Mazzara, and Shawn Ryan

Dutch finally gets a chance to interrogate his suspect in the rape and murders, and the conversation initiates some disturbing thoughts within the detective. Played superbly by Clark Gregg, the guy wants Dutch to explain the reasons for his crimes. Meanwhile, Danny goes undercover to investigate a drug ring that could lead to numerous convictions. Vic and Corinne also discover some horrifying news about their youngest child while struggling with their sonís autism. Directed by David Mamet (State and Main, The Spanish Prisoner) and including prominent guest roles for Gregg and Rebecca Pigeon, this episode provides another compelling story.

The ongoing stories are really rolling now. Another great episode earns 4 out of 5 shields.





Riceburner
Directed By: Scott Brazil
Written By: Adam E. Fierro and Scott Rosenbaum
Guest Stars: Natalie Zea as Lauren Riley, Rif Hutton as James Freeman, Andrew Borba as Vince Peabo, Daniel Dae Kim as Thomas Choi

Vic needs more finances to care for his family, which causes him to make a tough request of his fellow Strike Team members. Their vote and eventual decision will enhance the growing rift between the once-tight guys. The primary story involves a killer hiding inside the Korean community and receiving assistance from community leaders, including friends of Aceveda. Meanwhile, Julien and Danny follow the path of stolen furniture, while a small-time criminal helping them out makes a play for her. This episode once again reveals the growing troubles in the Strike Team caused by the Money Train issues. It falls a bit short of the previous entries, but still offers an interesting story.

Will the Strike Team survive much longer? This episode receives 3 out of 5 shields.





Fire in the Hole
Directed By: Guy Ferland
Written By: Kurt Sutter and Charles H. Egee
Guest Stars: Nicki Micheux as Detective Trish George, Gareth Williams as Detective Waylon Burke, Natalie Zea as Lauren Riley, Mo as Derwin, Andrew Borba as Vince Peabo
Commentary: Catherine Dent, Nicki Micheaux, CCH Pounder, and Cathy Cahlin Ryan

This energetic episode begins with a bang, literally, as Vicís son unknowingly sets the house on fire. The noose tightens even more around the Strike Team as the Armenians continue to search for the money train robbers. Dutch becomes suspicious about their involvement, which creates even more difficulties. Meanwhile, Claudette goes undercover with the Decoy Squad to catch a child pornographer and possibly snag a larger fish. The story is flowing so well between episodes that it becomes difficult to rate them individually. This entryís final 10 minutes are spellbinding and lead perfectly into the final two episodes.

Could things get any worse for the Strike Team? Definitely. This episode receives 4 out of 5 shields.





All In
Directed By: Stephen T. Kay
Written By: Scott Rosenbaum
Guest Stars: Andrew Borba as Vince Peabo, Karmin Murcelo as Carol, Marcos Ferraez as Leith, Dominic Hoffmann as Louis Spearling, Michelle Hicks as Mara Sewell, Kurt Sutter as Marcos Darzerian
Commentary: Michael Chiklis, Kenneth Johnson, Jay Karnes, CCH Pounder, and Scott Rosenbaum

While investigating the mole in the Treasury Department, Aceveda learns that the Armenians requested details concerning the Strike Team. He also discovers several peculiar connections that could lead him and Dutch to crack the money train case. The Strike Team searches diligently for the vicious Armenian Marcos Darzerian before he kills them, but their efforts could lead to even more internal difficulties. Meanwhile, Claudette uncovers details about a prosecutorís past that could undermine past convictions. Opening this can of worms could harm the city and destroy Claudetteís political career. The final scene of this episode is one of the toughest and most powerful of the season. The writers have continued to increase the tension in the Strike Team all year, which leads to an even greater and more devastating moment.

Another classic episode deserves 4.5 out of 5 shields.





On Tilt
Directed By: Scott Brazil
Written By: Shawn Ryan and Glen Mazzara
Guest Stars: Kurt Sutter as Marcos Darzerian, Andre 3000 as Robert Huggins, Michael Benyear as Goma Magar, Michael Tomlinson as Ben Horton, Yasmine Delawari as Angelica

This unpredictable season finale continues the Strike Teamís battle with the Armenian mob. While the previous episodeís events create an even-larger rift within the team, they continue to search for Marcos Darzerian before he kills them. Meanwhile, Claudette continues to dig into the prosecutorís past cases and may suffer politically because of her crusade. Danny and Julian also try to help a business owner who wonít accept the drug dealers and prostitutes on the street. The season concludes with one last confrontation within the Strike Team that could change their future permanently. In typical Shield fashion, each multiple storyline reaches its pinnacle during this final episode. I cannot wait to discover the charactersí new paths in the upcoming season.

This episode stands as one of the best in a series full of great entries. It receives 5 out of 5 shields.



Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The Shield utilizes its original full-frame transfer, which has been enhanced considerably from the initial television airing. The show's grainy style does cause many scenes to look a bit hazy, but most relate to the content presented. Few defects exist on the transfer, and the colors are generally sharp and bright (when necessary). It does fall short of the typical film transfers, but still offers an impressive presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: From the brief, scorching sounds of the opening theme to the frenetic background noises during the crazy chase scenes, this set's audio provides an impressive experience. The 2.0-channel Dolby Surround track remains fairly centralized, but it emits enough power through the front speakers to mostly compensate for the lack of depth. Considering its format limitations, this transfer performs very well.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 240 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
38 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
8 Feature/Episode commentaries by various speakers (listed in the specific episode descriptions)
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: I am continually impressed by the dedication of The Shield's entire cast and crew to its DVD releases. Numerous television series will scramble to gather even a few cast members for their commentaries, while this show utilizes nearly everyone to provide in-depth explorations about the episodes. Instead of simply offering silly anecdotes and fluffy statements about the production, they discuss the predominant themes of gray areas within each character. It's also very evident that the speakers enjoy being around each other and are friends off the set, which leads to a more conversational tone. Michael Chiklis displays considerable intelligence in his statements while never becoming boring. All of the cast members interact well with the writers and showcase the series' collaborative nature.

The third-season release includes eight feature-length commentaries that all provide more than the typical plot summary. One disappointment is the lesser role of Creator/Executive Producer Shawn Ryan, who offered fascinating details in many of the early season tracks. However, each track usually includes four or five cast and crew members who offer great material. Ryan does provide optional commentary for 38 deleted scenes that are provided with the individual episodes. Many of these moments are cut for time considerations and offer nonessential background information, but they still nicely complement the episodes. Ryan's statements are the major draw, as he discusses some extra details about each story.

The major gem of this collection is Breaking 315, an 80-minute documentary that offers a complete overview of the creation of the season finale On Tilt. This lengthy feature focuses almost entirely on the writing process, which is a rarity for behind-the-scenes DVD extras. We receive intimate access to the writers as they brainstorm for ideas concerning the numerous storylines. Beginning with the F story of Vic and the Armenian girl and progressing through the A story of the Strike Team's conflicts, this film wonderfully presents the difficulties in crafting the complex series. The timeframe for script ideas, casting, and scouting locations is very short and increases the writers' stress. We also observe some behind-the-scenes footage of shooting the primary scenes, including the final Strike Team meeting. This documentary stands as one of the great extra features I've ever witnessed in the DVD medium.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

The fourth season of The Shield begins on Tuesday, March 15th and introduces Glenn Close as the new squad captain. While viewing previous years is not required to understand this series, they do provide background that will enhance your enjoyment tremendously. The third season retains the top-notch acting and trademark intensity of previous years and deserves a high recommendation.

 


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