SOUTHLAND “Let It Snow” (Season 3 Premiere) Advance Review

SOUTHLAND Season 3 Episode 1

SOUTHLAND “Let it Snow” Season 3 Episode 1 (Season Premiere) – SOUTHLAND has had a turbulent ride to say the least. Renewed by NBC after an impressive first season, the gritty crime drama was abruptly cancelled before any of the second season had aired. Luckily TNT picked up the six episodes NBC had ordered and, despite less than stellar ratings, rewarded the quality show and its fans with a ten episode third season. After a long wait, “Let it Snow,” the season 3 premiere, airs tonight on TNT. I was lucky enough to preview the outstanding episode, which is not only well worth the long wait, but is probably the best installment to date.

The action picks up about six months after the events of the second season finale. Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King) has a new partner, Detective Josie Ochoa (a pitch perfect Jenny Gago), and I hope she’s a permanent addition because they balance each other perfectly. Ochoa is older than Adams and both less by the book and more sensitive to cultural traditions while Adams is more emotional and easily frustrated. The two talented detectives share a terrifically contentious but respectful chemistry and they work their infuriating case together beautifully.

Detectives Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) and Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) have the most complicated case, involving the murder of two gang members, and they are as perfectly in step with each other as ever. Shocking no one, Sammy and Tammi are still not completely in step with each other, and their scene together opens up a whole new Pandora’s box.

Officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) is still training Officer Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie), but their relationship has clearly shifted to a more equal footing. Maybe a bit too equal, in fact, which should make for an interesting season.

One concern I had about TNT taking over Southland was that budget constraints would hurt the show, but I needn’t have worried. The show is as incredibly shot as ever, taking full advantage of L. A to give it a raw beauty and gritty authenticity. There is a shoot-out that is particularly stunning as well as an impressive chase scene and I especially like the creative angles used during an interrogation scene. Character-wise, the action is tighter and better centered on Lydia, John, Ben, Sammy, and Nate. Chickie Brown (the fabulous Arija Bareikis) is thankfully still around and has a couple of terrific scenes. Tom Everett Scott’s Detective Russell Clarke is only seen briefly in an amusing scene with Lydia, but honestly, I don’t miss him at all. Overall, if anything, being on TNT helps Southland because the show is leaner and meaner with more realistic and better flowing dialogue.

Fans should be more than happy with “Let it Snow,” and new viewers can also slide right into the action without feeling lost. While some storylines–John’s back troubles and Sammy’s marital woes, for example–are continued, there is enough context for anyone to have a clear grasp of what’s going on. Southland is a unique crime drama that focuses both on what the pursuit of justice means to a set of police officers and what it does to them. I hope it spends many season on TNT.

Be sure to watch the third season premiere of Southland on TNT tonight at 10pm eastern/9pm central, and then I hope you’ll come back here and post your thoughts.

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