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20th Century Fox presents
The Shield: Season 4 (2005)

"I need to trust you; right now I don't."
- Monica Rawling (Glenn Close)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: January 29, 2006

Stars: Michael Chiklis, Glenn Close, CCH Pounder, Walton Goggins, Benito Martinez, Jay Karnes, Michael Jace, Catherine Dent
Other Stars: Kenny Johnson, Cathy Cahlin Ryan, David Rees Snell, Autumn Chiklis, Camillia Sanes
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (contains language, violence, sexual situations, and adult themes)
Run Time: 10h:16m:33s
Release Date: December 27, 2005
UPC: 024543217831
Genre: television


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

DVD Review

Rule-bending detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) is one of the more divisive characters currently on the air, which draws both his fans and deriders to their television sets each week. As the lead character of the riveting police drama The Shield, he continues to walk the line between righteous justice and criminal activity and often crosses into the dark territory. As the leader of a four-man Strike Team in L.A.’s rough Farmington district, he attempts to bring criminals to justice while avoiding the arm of the law. In the past, Vic has participated in unlawful shootings, armed robberies, and drug deals and come extremely close to incarceration. The consistent dilemma for viewers is that the guy they could easily hate also displays heroic attributes and a unique code of honor. Will Vic continue to escape the expected retribution?

The conclusion of its third season brought some major changes to the ensemble series, including the end of the Strike Team, Captain Aceveda’s (Benito Martinez) imminent departure to the City Council, and Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder) committing career suicide by opening numerous closed cases. The ultimate breakdown of the Strike Team was a gradual process that occurred due to growing problems following the heist of millions from the Armenian money train. Curtis “Lemonhead” Lemansky (Kenny Johnson) faced a crisis of conscience as the tension increased, which placed him into direct conflict with former buddy Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins). The apparently “perfect crime” only led to disaster, and this rift will be difficult to mend during the upcoming season.

The fourth season continues the series’ numerous ongoing storylines in exciting fashion and introduces two pivotal new characters. The biggest coup for the producers was convincing legendary actress Glenn Close to join the cast as Captain Monica Rawling, the new leader of the Barn. Close doesn’t seem like the hard-nosed police type, but she pulls it off and succeeds beyond any expectations. Monica arrives with plans for a controversial seizure policy that can take the cars and homes of criminals involved in the drug trade and their families. The new kingpin of the neighborhood is Antwon Mitchell (Anthony Anderson), a massive guy with a big personality and some possibly shady dealings on the side. Returning from jail, he appears to be a community leader who has converted to the straight and narrow. However, clues quickly arise that Antwon may be involved in his former activities. Anthony Anderson has been known mostly for comedies, but he brings a strong menace to Antwon that is believable and terrifying.

Nearly every character must deal with some serious issues during the fourth season that are not easy to overcome. Aceveda still faces the demons of the rape from the previous year and yearns for a chance to prove his power. Shane and Lemonhead would prefer not to speak to each other ever again, and the camaraderie among the Strike Team is missing. Shane is particularly lost without Vic’s guidance, and he quickly falls into trouble by trying to deal with Antwon. Julian (Michael Jace) is not a fan of the seizure policy and feels that it attacks his own community, which creates trouble with Monica. Vic tries to avoid the crap that’s plagued him in the past and prove himself, but avoiding his true nature may be more difficult than expected. The following episode summaries may include minor spoilers, so you should probably avoid them if you haven’t viewed this season. Enjoy the descriptions!

The Cure
Directed By: Scott Brazil
Written By: Glen Mazzara
Guest Stars: Camilia Sanes (Aurora Aceveda), David Marciano (Detective Steve Billings), Anna Maria Horsford (ADA Beth Encardi), Nigel Gibbs (Assistant Chief Roy Phillips), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell), Lee Reyes (Fernando Cruz), Robert Wu (Wayne "Scooby" Haimes)
Commentary: Benito Martinez, Glen Mazzara, CCH Pounder, and Shawn Ryan

The fourth season begins with the introduction of Captain Monica Rawling, who is learning the ropes about the Barn’s officers during City Councilman Aceveda’s last day. The departing captain is especially jumpy and still wants to get the last word with Vic, which generates a serious conflict. The Strike Team is no more, with Shane working in vice and Lemonhead working at the Youth Authority. Attempting to escape the office and get back on the streets, Vic tries to gain Monica’s trust and head her new task force. They visit a meeting held by former drug kingpin Antwon Mitchell for information on a murder. While the charming fellow claims to follow the straight and narrow, the truth of these statements is still unknown. Glenn Close has some awkward early moments, but the Vic/Aceveda conflict brings energy to this plot-heavy episode.

Will Monica’s controversial policies succeed? Only time will tell. This episode receives 3 out of 5 shields.





Grave
Directed By: Paris Barclay
Written By: Kurt Sutter
Guest Stars: Michael Pena (Armando "Army" Renta), Anna Maria Horsford (ADA Beth Encardi), Laurence Mason (Halpern White), David Marciano (Detective Steve Billings), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell), Linda Friedman (Nina), Autumn Chiklis (Cassidy Mackey)
Commentary: Kenneth Johnson, Benito Martinez, Katey Sagal, David Rees Snell, and Kurt Sutter

Vic tries to provide assistance to a friend and search for a missing teen, but his efforts lead to more trouble. While Aceveda continues to sabotage his career at the Barn, Monica struggles to decide what to do with Vic. Meanwhile, Shane brings his new partner Army up to speed with some questionable police work. Their possibly close relationship with Antwon worries Vic, who hopes to keep a close eye on his former partner. This episode continues to build Close’s Monica, who decides to give our flawed hero a chance but could regret it in the end. The story improves nicely on its predecessor and starts increasing the momentum towards the season’s pivotal events.

Will Vic get into trouble again? Longtime viewers know the answer to this question. This episode receives 3.5 out of 5 shields.





Bang
Directed By: Guy Ferland
Written By: Scott Rosenbaum
Guest Stars: Laurence Mason (Halpern White), Michele Hicks (Mara Sewell), Michael Pena (Armando "Army" Renta), Anna Maria Horsford (ADA Beth Encardi), David Marciano (Detective Steve Billings), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell), Melanie Myers (Paula)
Commentary: Catherine Dent, Guy Ferland, Michael Jace, and Scott Rosenbaum

Monica’s first day at the Barn begins with a rousing speech about her property seizure plans, but events quickly take off due to a battle between the One Niners and the Spookstreet Souljahs. Five gang members have been killed, and Vic and the other officers must work quickly to end the carnage. Meanwhile, Dutch is struggling with their “doghouse” work from the DA because of Claudette’s actions at the end of the previous season. Pushed to the brink by a rough day, he decides to take a chance to get them back to the forefront of investigations. The season truly begins to shine with this breakneck episode, which immediately threatens Monica’s commitment to the seizures. The final moments are torturous for her, and they foreshadow her eventual fate by the year’s conclusion.

Glenn Close really takes over here and starts to craft a riveting character. This episode deserves 4 out of 5 shields.





Doghouse
Directed By: Dean White
Written By: Adam E. Fierro
Guest Stars: Michael Pena (Armando "Army" Renta), Anna Maria Horsford (ADA Beth Encardi), Laurence Mason (Halpern White), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell), Autumn Chiklis (Cassidy Mackey), Kenneth Colom (Lucas)

Vic enlists the aid of religious gang members to catch a rapist, but his attempts backfire and chaos erupts. Dutch and Claudette get a chance from the DA to bring down a big-time drug dealer, but the suspect is much different than their initial expectations. Vic also worries about Shane’s connection to Antwon Mitchell, so he tries to keep his buddy close. In a less-than-exciting storyline, Aceveda meets a prostitute and begins a relationship to assuage his feelings about last year’s traumatic experience. With the exception of this event, the episode offers plenty of excitement and builds the case against Shane surviving the year.

Where are Danny and Julian? My thoughts exactly. This episode receives 3.5 out of 5 shields.





Tar Baby
Directed By: Guy Ferland
Written By: Charles H. Eglee
Guest Stars: Michael Pena (Armando "Army" Renta), Anna Maria Horsford (ADA Beth Encardi), Laurence Mason (Halpern White), David Marciano (Detective Steve Billings), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell), Abby Brammell (Sara Frazier)
Commentary: Anthony Anderson, Michael Chiklis, Jay Karnes, and Michael Pena

Monica chairs a public hearing to discuss the seizures, but Aceveda arrives just in time to sandbag her comments. His business relationship with the prostitute Sara is giving him feelings of power, which are showing in the councilman’s job performance. The squad uses a tip from a 14-year-old girl to bring down a drug dealer with ties to Antwon, which places Shane’s relationship with him in jeopardy. The bonus of this search is the largest heroin bust in Farmington history. This problem leads to a stunning conclusion that places Shane and Army’s lives a nasty dilemma. The results of this moment will haunt the detectives for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Claudette discovers Dutch’s deal with the DA, which creates a serious conflict.

Antwon shows his true colors here, which helps to earn this episode 4 out of 5 shields.





Insurgents
Directed By: Vondie Curtis-Hall
Written By: Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fein
Guest Stars: Melanie Myers (Paula), Michael Pena (Armando "Army" Renta), Laurence Mason (Halpern White), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell), Autumn Chiklis (Cassidy Mackey) , Kevin Cooney (DEA Captain Lamberti), Ray Campbell (Kleavon Gardner), Michael McCafferty (Bruce White), Chaney Kley (Asher), Robert Wu (Wayne "Scooby" Haimes)

Vic discovers a federal investigation into Antwon’s heroin trade and joins with the feds to track a large stash. Shane and Army arouse suspicion while they try to keep Vic and Monica from discovering the drugs. The evidence leads to a church, which raises misgivings in Julian about the seizures when they invade the building. He takes his concerns to Aceveda, who is more than willing to listen. Meanwhile, Claudette gives Dutch the cold shoulder while they investigate a woman’s murder, and Lemonhead suspects Shane for a young girl’s murder. This episode raises the intensity for future episodes and connects well to the larger conflicts to come. Vic, Ronnie, and Lemonhead’s final discovery about Shane and Army could change things for good.

Can the Dutchboy hook up with Vic’s ex-wife? That’s a bold move. This episode receives 3.5 out of 5 shields.





Hurt
Directed By: Nick Gomez
Written By: Scott Rosenbaum, Lia Langworthy
Guest Stars: Nigel Gibbs (Assistant Chief Roy Phillips), Michael Pena (Armando "Army" Renta), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell), Lombardo Boyar (Hernesto), Matt Spangler (Darnell Gary), Giovanni Lopes (Hielo), Mark Ivanir (Ohelo "Halo" Gutierrez)

Julian’s irritation concerning the seizures continues to grow as he observes cops joking about getting a new car. This anger causes issues when he pulls over a small-time white guy and threatens to have his vehicle seized. Another problem arises when an edited video of the church raid causes the Chief to pull Vic’s team off a major bust of a Russian mob leader. Aceveda continues to cause problems for Monica and bring her policies into jeopardy. She also is especially interested in a foster-child attack that reveals some uncaring city officials. This concern will cause major problems by the end of the season. Meanwhile, the Strike Team discovers a shocking deal between Antwon and Shane that could lead to serious problems. This episode includes several compelling character moments, especially one argument that shows both Chiklis and Close at their best.

Julian should change his tune or he’ll be leaving the Barn very soon. This solid episode receives 3 out of 5 shields.





Cut Throat
Directed By: Dean White
Written By: Jennifer R. Richmond, Glen Mazzara
Guest Stars: Laurence Mason (Halpern White), Melanie Myers (Paula), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell) , Derek Basco (Kojo), Tom Ayers (Gauge), Natalia (Tracy), Diego Villarreal Garcia (Beto), Marc Anwar (Skitch), Stacy Meadows Junior (Cutter-10), Kamau Holloway (Sidewinder)
Commentary: Randy Huggins, Kenneth Johnson, Jennifer R. Richmond, Cathy Cahlin Ryan, and Dean White

One of the police informants is found murdered, which causes Monica to worry that the gangs are targeting anyone who helps them. Shane faces pressure to finish the deal he made with Antwon, and his ability to perform this act is still up in the air. He tries to find a way out, but a messy accident only complicates matters. Meanwhile, Vic must stay in the background during seizure arrests due to his unfortunate public profile. Dutch and Claudette catch a lucky break in their search for the “coffee bandit.” Walton Goggins does some great work in the final scene, which wonderfully concludes a great episode.

I’m growing very weary of the Aceveda/prostitute subplot, so this is the last mention it will receive. Even given that tired storyline, this strong episode deserves 4 out of 5 shields.





String Theory
Directed By: Phillip Atwell
Written By: Charles H. Eglee, Shawn Ryan
Guest Stars: Laurence Mason (Halpern White), Joel Stoffer (Roger Pruitt), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell), David Marciano (Detective Steve Billings), Michael Pena (Armando "Army" Renta)

When two police officers disappear after answering a 911 call, Monica brings out all the stops to find them before it’s too late. Dutch and Claudette lead the case and must offer a smokescreen to the press to give them more time. Meanwhile, the Strike Team tries to help Shane deal with his serious problems, which could place all of them in jeopardy. Monica focuses the police investigation on Antwon, and he enters the Barn for an interrogation that could reveal everything. This chaotic story moves swiftly and sets things up for the season’s key episode.

Can the Strike Team avoid trouble once again? We’ll see. This energetic story receives 4 out of 5 shields.





Back in the Hole
Directed By: Scott Brazil
Written By: Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fein
Guest Stars: Michael Pena (Armando "Army" Renta), Camilia Sanes (Aurora Aceveda), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell), Melissa Paull (Trina), Onahoua Rodriguez (Amoulio Melendez), Abby Brammell (Sara Frazier)
Commentary: Michael Chiklis, Glenn Close, Elizabeth Craft, and Sarah Fain

This extended 65-minute episode presents the ultimate conflict between Monica and Antwon, who both dig into the other’s past with extreme nastiness. Her threats could force him to act, which sends the guys scrambling to thwart his activities. Vic and Shane realize they must come forward and present their shady dealings to Monica. She requests that Army and Shane take a lie detector test, which could bring down the entire Strike Team. Meanwhile, Dutch and Claudette have another interview with an earlier murder suspect when another woman is killed. The acting is superb across the board in this episode, which ranks as the best of the season.

The trouble is rising for Shane. Can he escape? This strong episode deserves 4.5 out of 5 shields.





A Thousand Deaths
Directed By: Stephen T. Kay
Written By: Adam E. Fierro
Guest Stars: Michael Pena (Armando "Army" Renta), Laurence Mason (Halpern White), David Marciano (Detective Steve Billings)
Commentary: Adam E. Fierro, Jay Karnes, David Marciano, Cathy Cahlin Ryan, and David Rees Snell

While Army and Shane await their polygraph test, Monica worries that the Chief is losing faith in the seizure policy. The Strike Team continues their search for the police killers with the cloud of corruption hanging over their heads. Vic also finds out about Corinne’s relationship with Dutch, which could lead to some unfortunate problems. Dutch and Claudette investigate a murder, and are stunned to discover an unlikely witness. This solid episode solves a major case and has a notable finish that could change the Strike Team forever.

Could you pass a polygraph? I definitely couldn’t do it. This episode receives 3.5 out of 5 shields.





Judas Priest
Directed By: David Von Ancken
Written By: Kurt Sutter and Scott Rosenbaum
Guest Stars: Nigel Gibbs (Assistant Chief Roy Phillips), David Marciano (Detective Steve Billings), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell), Camilia Sanes (Aurora Aceveda)

After apprehending the Nigerians, the Strike Team now goes after the Russians for the murder of their fellow cops. Unfortunately, an interrogation goes bad and may jeopardize the entire investigation. Meanwhile, Aceveda’s attacker may reveal his the incident on the stand during his appeal, which sends the councilman to Antwon Mitchell for help. His actions could destroy everything that Vic and Monica have worked for against Antwon. Dutch continues to take heat from everyone, which leads to a nasty conflict. This extremely tense episode is one of the best of the season and leads wonderfully into the finale.

Is there a line that Aceveda won’t cross? This episode receives 4.5 out of 5 shields.





A’int That A Shame
Directed By: Stephen T. Kay
Written By: Shawn Ryan, Glen Mazzara
Guest Stars: Nigel Gibbs (Assistant Chief Roy Phillips), Jose Zuniga (IAD Agent), Joe Chacon (Lil Muerto), Priscilla Esparolini (Rosaria), Kevin Cooney (DEA Captain Lamberti), Onahoua Rodriguez (Amoulio Melendez), Kenneth Colom (Lucas), Autumn Chiklis (Cassidy Mackey), Melanie Myers (Paula), Anthony Anderson (Antwon Mitchell)
Commentary: Glenn Close, Catherine Dent, Stephen Kay, CCH Pounder, and Shawn Ryan

The fourth season finale might not rank as the best conclusion for the series, but it still includes plenty of great moments. Vic attempts to discover the background of Aceveda’s deal with Antwon and works with Monica to negate it. The Strike Team is working together again, which leads to some tense moments, especially involving Lemonhead’s battle over a shotgun with several criminals. Monica’s clash with Family Services heats up again, and her impetuous attitude about the seizures could lead to serious consequences. The final scenes with Close and Chiklis are especially powerful, and most of the storylines are completed. However, one key plot point is revealed that could possibly haunt the Strike Team in the upcoming season.

Another excellent season has been completed. Where can The Shield go from here? This impressive episode receives 4 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: This release's episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame transfer, with the notable exception of the lengthier Back in the Hole, which utilizes a 1.78 anamorphic widescreen picture. These images improve slightly over their grainy counterparts, but the enhancements are not very significant. The series' frenetic style requires a less-than-perfect transfer, and this release complies. The overall result is an effective presentation that could have been sharper but fails to distract from the finished product.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: In similar fashion to the image transfer, the 2.0-channel Dolby Surround track provides a solid presentation that depicts the action effectively. The dialogue is easily understandable throughout the season, and the sound effects resound sharply from the front speakers. The jarring theme song also springs well into the room and sets the mood well. A more complex track would have been a nice inclusion, but I have no significant issues with this consistent audio offering.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 208 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
42 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: This boxed set includes extras almost identical in quantity to the third season release, which offered an excellent documentary, deleted scenes, and eight commentaries. The primary feature this time is Under the Skin—a remarkable look at the series with plenty of cast and crew interviews. The discussions take place during the filming of Back in the Hole, but they cover the entire season and really delve into the creative process. Walton Goggins offers memorable remarks as he prepares with Director Scott Brazil for his encounter with Anthony Anderson. This hour-long documentary ranks among the best of its kind and offers considerable insight into the entire production.

The Shield is one of the best series for commentaries that are both informative and highly entertaining. The eight tracks provided here include two strong appearances from Glenn Close and one from Anthony Anderson, and I wish both had spoke on more episodes. Nearly all of the primary cast members help to deliver commentaries that never waste your time, and the writers and directors join in the fun periodically. Numerous entertaining moments occur, with Jay Karnes' reaction to his awful Hungry Like the Wolf singing being one of the best highlights. It's especially interesting to hear Glenn Close discuss her experiences with creator Shawn Ryan during the finale A'int That a Shame.

The other significant feature is a solid collection of 42 deleted scenes, which offer optional commentary with series creator Shawn Ryan on most entries. Most of the scenes run less than a minute, and the total running time is about a half hour. The reasons for cutting them usually related to time or an excised subplot, which eliminated some worthy guest performances. Ryan speaks candidly about the reasons for the removals and is one of the more compelling DVD contributors out there. Understandably, the extended episode Back in the Hole does not include any deleted scenes.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

The Shield started its fifth season in early January, and reports indicate that it may be the final year. Although the fourth installment may not be its strongest, it continues to push the story into compelling territory. Glenn Close and Anthony Anderson bring tremendous energy to their new roles, which lead to another season of spellbinding television.

 


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