Now what am I gonna do on Tuesday nights?
There’s what life was like before The Shield and life after and life after is a lot less interesting as far as television goes.
The last episode of The Shield aired nearly three months ago. And every Tuesday night since the credits rolled for the final time, I’ve been missing it like a amputated digit. Though it’s gone, there’s a “phantom pain” in its absence.
No more Vic. No more Claudette trying to nail Vic’s ass to the wall. No more Biz Lats, Spook Street, Armenian money trains or Los Angeles looking like a racially diverse neighborhood in Hell.
The Shield gave me six years of satisfaction. What made it great was how it never dumbed the characters down or tried to make them anything they weren’t. Even in the final episode, Vic Mackey remained the scheming, sneering, anti-hero who I pulled for despite knowing what a rotten father, crooked cop and lousy human being he really was.
This was like a bad relationship. Bad for each other. Totally toxic and doomed not to end well, but irresistable.
It’s a rare thing when a show wraps it up and you don’t want any more from it. In the last scene when Vic pulls the gun out of the file drawer, I never thought he was going to go out eating a bullet like Shane. It would have been a betrayal of everything the character Michael Chiklis and show creator Shawn Ryan breathed life into.
Vic was not just the ultimate bad-ass. He’s also the ultimate survivor. As canny and streetwise as he is, he doesn’t see all the angles. But he’s blessed (or cursed) with the instincts of a shark and like a shark he has to keep moving or he dies. Unfortunately, he also leaves a path of destruction in his path, but that was part of the genius of The Shield. How can viewers embrace a character whom in the very first episode ruthlessly guns downs another cop?
Unfortunately, while The Shield was brilliant, it wasn’t popular. The final episode drew only 1.9 million viewers. Which makes the praise lavished on the show as it ended by magazines like Entertainment Weekly not just bittersweet, but embittering.
In the year-end “Best of” issue, EW listed The Shield as the fourth best television show of 2008 and critic Jeff Jensen hailed it as part of “TV’s second Golden Age.” High praise from a publication that almost totally ignored The Shield until it’s final season and never once ran a cover story. EW slaps Lost and Heroes on the front with sickening consistency while it treated The Shield like a bad dog at a cocktail party.
From the bottom of my heart I’d like to tell Entertainment Weekly to collectively go screw themselves.
Their praise for one of the best television shows of the last 1o years was far too little and came far too late. Flowers for a funeral are a thoughtful gesture, but a meaningless one as the dead can’t appreciate them and the living don’t need them. Entertainment Weekly can keep their worthless recognition because what good does it do now?
I don’t need any snobby critics to legitimize for me what I already know is good. I would have liked for others to have known what I and a select few already did—The Shield was what great television should be. There’s a big hole in my Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. It looks to be a long time before something fills the space left by The Shield.
There hasn’t been a release date set for the Season 7 DVD, but hopefully it will be sometime in Spring ’09. I’m looking forward to sitting down and losing myself one last time in the magic kingdom of Farmington and all the craziness that came with it.
Rumors are there could be a Shield movie to wrap up some of the unresolved plot threads, but I’m fine it it doesn’t happen. I’m satisfied by the ambiguity of the final scene. To quote the Beatles, let it be. You can’t improve on perfection.