'Southland' episodes premiere on TNT

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When it began its brief spring run last April on NBC, "Southland" came across as a competently made, character-driven, contemporary cop show that was more interested in everyday police work than in scenes of outrageous drama found in a series like "Trauma."

In its first season "Southland" had such a large ensemble that it often became difficult to keep track of the characters and their relationships, especially as it grew overly-serialized toward the end of its first batch of episodes.

In its second-season premiere (10 p.m. Tuesday, TNT), "Southland" has a tighter focus on the job and less emphasis on the personal lives of the show's cops. This makes the stories easier to follow.

Now viewers have to follow the show from NBC, which canceled the series last fall just a few weeks before its scheduled second season premiere, to TNT, which will air the first of six produced second-season episodes this week.

The most compelling characters remain Det. Lydia Adams (Regina King) and the team of training officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) and rookie Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie, "The O.C.").

At the end of last season Adams' partner, Russell Clarke (Tom Everett Scott) was shot. Bad for him, good for viewers, who get to see King's Adams at her empathetic best as she deals with the aftermath.

There's a cool, no-nonsense attitude about "Southland" that may make it more challenging for viewers to embrace than some other shows, but this cop drama has so many strong performances and enough nuanced writing that it remains one of the better dramas currently in prime time.

TV editor Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1112. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.


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