DVD Review: Warner Archive Releases ‘The F.B.I.,’ ‘Southland’

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CHICAGO – Loyal readers of HollywoodChicago.com will know that this TV critic is a HUGE fan of TNT’s “Southland,” the best cop drama currently on television and one of the best dramas, period. How anyone at NBC let this stellar program go will remain one of the great TV mysteries of the new millennium. Its unusual second season has recently been released by Warner Archive along with a program forty-five years its elder in “The F.B.I.”

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0
DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0

“Southland” was a bubble program after its first year on NBC as it had yet to quite find a loyal audience and the network was in a bit of upheaval around the decision to give five hours a week to “The Jay Leno Show.” The network sent a clear signal — quality writing wasn’t as important as a talk show. But they renewed “Southland” and so maybe there was still hope.

Southland: The Complete Second Season was released on DVD on May 24th, 2011.
Southland: The Complete Second Season was released on DVD on May 24th, 2011.
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Home Video

Before a single episode could air, NBC changed their minds and pulled the plug. The cast and crew had already filmed six episodes but it now looked like they would never air. TNT picked up the episodes and they performed well enough for the network that they renewed it for a third season that they would produce. That season, which aired earlier this year, was one of the best of 2011. This is the bridge that got us there. As such, it’s a bit unsatisfactory, running only six episodes and clearly unfinished, but it still features solid writing and great performances by Shawn Hatosy, Michael Cudlitz, Regina King, and the entire ensemble.

The F.B.I.: Season 1, Part 1 was released on DVD on May 24th, 2011.
The F.B.I.: Season 1, Part 1 was released on DVD on May 24th, 2011.
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Home Video

The DVD-only release of “Southland: The Complete Second Season” is uncensored (fans of the show will know that it relies heavily on the “bleep” button) and features select scene commentaries, unaired scenes, and “Backing the Badge: Select Scene Commentary.”

How “The F.B.I.” is related to “Southland” other than studio and the fact that both shows feature crime-solving is a bit vague but Warner Archive has released both on DVD recently for order through their site.

“The F.B.I.” aired on ABC from 1965 to 1974 and featured actual cases from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While it’s rarely referenced today, it ran for an AMAZING 240 episodes and J. Edgar Hoover even served as series consultant.

With that kind of legacy, one might expect a more impressive DVD release than this 4-disc set, which includes not a single special feature. Then again, for the right audience, guest appearances by Robert Blake, Beau Bridges, Dabney Coleman, Robert Duvall, Jack Klugman, Leslie Nielsen, and Burt Reynolds are special enough.

“Southland: The Complete Second Season” and “The F.B.I.: Season 1, Part 1” were released by Warner Archive on May 24th, 2011. They are available exclusively through their site at Warner Archive.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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