Shield Laws


Nothing much to add to this item, but it’s good that we’re finally going to see the last season of The Shield, starting in September.

The Shield reminds me a bit of The Wire, not just because they’re both gritty cable crime shows but because they’re both hugely acclaimed shows whose impact seems to be a bit muted. Or is that just my perception? You see other successful cable programs inspiring imitators (on cable and the networks), and becoming cultural phenomena to the point that even people who don’t watch them know them enough to make fun of them. I don’t really see that happening with these shows; Vic Mackey is an Emmy-winning character but he doesn’t have the cultural recognition of a Tony Soprano, let alone an Andy Sipowicz. I don’t know if it has something to do with the lack of an obvious gimmick with which these shows can establish themselves in the public mind (I think HBO’s problem with The Wire has always been that it doesn’t have an easily marketable gimmick; it’s different, but it doesn’t sound different when you describe it), or if it’s just to do with promotion — FX has had a number of good shows, though all of them including The Shield seem to run out of steam a bit, but their promotion of their shows beyond their own basic viewership has sometimes been a little iffy.

Update: See comments for an explanation of why I may be mis-reading The Shield‘s impact based on the fact that it’s not promoted much in Canada; it may be bigger in the States. I will note, however, that it is simply a sign of patriotism that I don’t notice anything that happens outside of the homeland.

Also, The Shield has been cited as one of the top 10 most influential basic-cable shows of all time.

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Shield Laws

  1. But how much of that is your perception of the property as a Canadian, up here? The Shield has always been ill served by its Canadian broadcast partner, Canwest Global. They’ve never really promoted it or ran it or sunk advertising into it.

    Yet my perception of the show is that it’s actually hugely influential. Shawn Ryan’s grit kind of rewrote the bad boy cop show. I think his Vic Mackey probably paved the way for Gregory House – it certainly amped the antihero factor for U.S. drama.

    And along with Rescue me and (back in the day) XFiles reruns, it’s the show that put F/X on the map.

    When the seasons premiere, there are always huge outdoor, big buy campaigns in major U.S. cities like L.A.and Chicago and New York. I don’t know very many people who like cop shows who haven’t at least heard of The Shield, and until a few months back you really couldn’t say that about The Wire.

    I think that in general, F/X has a higher oomph in the U.S. market than you think it does — not as much as network, but certainly more than, say, pay. I think on the street awareness of The Shield is a lot more than the paucity of its Canadian promotion would lead you to believe. It’s just suffering the long in the tooth natural cycle of a waning show — it has been on for Six seasons, right?

  2. I think on the street awareness of The Shield is a lot more than the paucity of its Canadian promotion would lead you to believe.

    Entirely plausible. I just found it odd how even after FX raised its profile, many of its shows would kind of be hard to hear about or even find. But that perception of mine just as likely to have to do with the fact that you can’t always find their shows in Canada, at least not very easily.

  3. Another problem with the Shield in Canada is that Global has usually run it 6 months after it’s run on FX. Usually without letting anyone know.

    I’m as big a fan of the show as there is, and I often missed the first couple of episodes on Global, simply because they didn’t tell anyone it was going to be on.

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