THE SHIELD: The Complete Series Remastered and Reloaded on Blu-ray

Mill Creek Entertainment put together a definitive release for the series

A decade ago, we were in the midst of what was termed a “golden age of television.” Six Feet Under, Mad Men, The West Wing, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, The Wire, and more permeated the public consciousness and laid the groundwork for what followed in terms of ambitious character studies and plot development. The Shield is another product of this era, one aired on the FX network, which despite fervent championing by some never seemed to take a foothold like the other shows mentioned above. I myself have never caught the show before, until now, thanks to the fine folk over at Mill Creek Entertainment, who mark the 10 year anniversary of the show with a new release. They present a 4K restoration of all 88 episodes, backed up by an impressive amount of special features, making it the best way to revisit or catch the show for the first time.


Controversial, compelling, and critically acclaimed, The Shield takes place in a tough, morally ambiguous world in which the line between right and wrong is crossed every day and the road to justice is twisted. Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winner Michael Chiklis portrays one of television’s greatest antiheros, Detective Vic Mackey, who runs his elite Strike Team under his own set of rules as he tries to maintain balance in the criminal ecosystem on the streets of Los Angeles.

The Farmington district in Los Angeles. An area plagued by crime. Enter Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and his strike team, assembled to tackle the epidemic of theft, murder, rape, and more hitting the city. “Al Capone with a badge” is how Mackey is described by his own precinct Captain. An attack dog, he’s unleashed when necessary by the department to get the dirtier jobs done, as demonstrated in the very first episode where he is sanctioned to beat information out of a suspect to save a young girl. He pushes the boundaries of what is right, legally and morally, to get the job done. Precinct Captain David Aceveda (Benito Martinez), unhappy with the autonomy afforded to him and methods used, wants to dissolve the team and hold Vic to account for his actions.

As a cop show, you immediately pick up on the procedural aspect, as well as how the series delves into the relationships between these officers, the oneupsmanship, the camaraderie, and the rivalries, as well as their place within the city. You also have two street cops, Danni Sofer (Catherine Dent) and her trainee Julien Lowe (Michael Jace), who offer yet another level of insight into the structure of the department and city activities. But it’s the closing seconds of the pilot episode that make you sit up and take notice that there is something deeper at play. At its core, The Shield is an exploration of morality and ethics. As it progresses, and Vic and co. get their hands dirtier and dirtier, the creeping realization that they are tainted themselves is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the show. While replete with interesting characters brought to life by phenomenal talent such as Walton Goggins, Kenny Johnson, David Rees Snell, Anthony Anderson, Glenn Close, and Forest Whitaker, the onus is on Chiklis’ Mackey. He’s a cudgel of a man whose satisfaction of putting the bad guys away is often equaled by proving to his more righteous colleagues that his way is the right way. A “good” bad cop, he’s able to give a psychological push as well as deliver a physical punch, feeding off the rush of the pursuit. Of course he comes with a ton of personal issues, much of it stemming from conflict with wife, alcoholism, and a son with learning difficulties, aspects that importantly humanize the man and allow him to justify his actions as being for the greater good. Stealing, beating, falsifying evidence, blackmail, killing: it’s an ongoing descent into darkness, where a reckoning is inevitable.

So why didn’t The Shield become as revered as The Sopranos or The Wire, the two shows that perhaps share the most DNA with Shawn Ryan’s creation? The first in terms of getting into the headspace of an anti-hero protagonist, the second in looking at corruption and moral conflict in a socially challenged city. The simple explanation is that the show was somewhat shielded away (sorry) on the fledgling FX Network, rather than given the prestige and platform that comes with being on HBO. Where The Sopranos was more cerebral and artistic, The Shield is brash and frenetic, driven by action. Where The Wire has social issues driving matters, The Shield is led largely by internal decisions and is rooted in a seemingly more simplistic procedural aspect than societal introspection. The Shield is more about ethics, morals, and the repercussions of a man’s actions, the lengths he’d go to protect his neighborhood, a mother, a child, a partner, or himself. It might not feel as prestigious, but that doesn’t take away from its potency.

The Package

Mill Creek has put together a impressive package here. A 4K widescreen remaster of all 88 episodes, spanning 7 seasons, is hosted on 16 discs, with two more for extra features. The results are rather impressive, with the detail and clarity of image standing out; colors are vibrant, but skin tones feel a little on the pinkish side. It doesn’t feel as subtle as the remastering of The Wire a few years back, looking a little too bright and clean. Some of the grit I recall from catching the occasional look at the show on cable seems lifted, but it’s a small sacrifice to make for the overall improvements.

The series comes housed in a special digi-book presentation, one that in addition to the discs, includes liner notes from show creator Shawn Ryan and a host of stills and behind the scenes photos. Each ‘page’ has a list of content for each disc, and episode synopses too. The front of the ‘book’ has a raised police badge, lifted from the show. The whole design and execution is very well done, and feels of excellent quality.

Bonus Features:

In addition to some quality packaging, the release is stuffed with extra features that will take you weeks, if not months, to work through. Some are on the main episode discs, although most are on two additional discs which take the set up to 18 discs total. There are a few smaller featurettes tucked away across the discs I don’t mention below too; some were available on earlier releases, but there is a host of new content pulled together for this one. The highlights are:

  • Cast and crew commentaries: Available for a significant number of episodes.
  • Deleted scenes: Across all discs, for select episodes.
  • Making the episode: Several making of featurettes dedicated to notable episodes throughout the run of the series, all over an hour in length.
  • Under the Skin: Very well put together featurette looking at the making of a typical episode of the show. Running about an hour, it blends behind the scenes footage with crew insights, immersing you in the production aspects.
  • Wins and Losses: Season 6 prequel, short catch-up.
  • Saturn’s Sons: An in depth look at the plot arcs of of season 6 and how it accounted for some of the excess material unused in the preceding season.
  • Two Directors: Little look at two directors, Paris Barclay (The West Wing, LOST) and Frank Darabont (The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption), and their work on some key episodes for the show.
  • Full Circle — Franka Potente: A profile of the actress and fan of the show, who pops up in several episodes, and how one of her cinematic entries helped inspire the aesthetic for the show.
  • Nobody Expects to Lose, Nobody Expects to Die — The Shield’s Final Season: A look at the end of the series and look back on what came before, and how the venture panned out.
  • Last Call — The Final Episode: Cast and crew talk about their experiences on the show and look at the last episode, a nice sendoff.
  • Rampart Documentary: Around 30 minutes, it discusses the real life Rampart Scandal, and how its tale of corruption within the LAPD inspired the show.
  • I.A.D. Featurette: Interview with an actual police officer about the experience of working in internal affairs.
  • Framing Farmington: From set design to filming to post-production, a series of featurettes elaborating on how the production built the settings for the show, inc. Raising the Barn, Making a Scene, The Editing Room, Sound Surgery, A Place We Called Home.
  • Strike Team Only!: Auditions and interviews with the cast and crew, a directors round-table, and a Television Academy panel discussion with Michael Chiklis, Forest Whitaker, and Shawn Ryan: runs about 30 minutes where the assembled talent are asked questions by the audience.
  • Cast Auditions
  • Scott Brazil Tribute: Tip of the hat to one of the original producers of the show who sadly passed from Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2006.
  • 2018 Cast Reunion with Shawn Ryan: Shawn Ryan gets a “family meeting” going 10 years after the series finale, reuniting Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Paula Garces, Walton Goggins, Kenny Johnson, Jay Karnes, David Marciano, Benito Martinez, Cathy Cahlin Ryan, David Rees Snell, and CCH Pounder. You even get a mention of Michael Jace, the one name really missing, albeit understandably so.
  • ATX Television Festival: The Shield Writer’s Room Panel: Featuring Shawn Ryan, Kurt Sutter, Glen Mazzara, Scott Rosenbaum, and Chris H. Eglee. Moderated by Lynette Rice. A pretty great segment chock full of information and little nuggets of info about the show
  • Beyond the Badge Retrospective: A fine look back at the show in terms of it’s entire 7 year run, drawing on perspectives from cast, crew, and critics

The Bottom Line

The Shield is a compelling look at a man and the moral quagmire he finds himself in. It’s an often brutal examination of ethics in the pursuit of justice. The restoration has given the show a new lease of life visually, but underneath it hasn’t lost any of its edge. Mill Creek have come in at the last to deliver one of the most impressive home video releases of 2018. The definitive package for any fans of The Shield.

The Shield The Complete Series is available via Mill Creek Entertainment from 18th December, 2018.

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