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'Southland' week two: Pretty BLEEPin' good

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I’m getting hooked. Maybe it’s the wave of New Sincerity that Susan Boyle has loosed upon this country, but I found myself really engaged by Southland‘s baby-found-crawling-in-the-street subplot last night. And the rest of the episode — complete with thirteen bleeped curse words, four before the opening credits were finished — was nearly as interesting.

NBC’s replacement for ER shares the hospital drama’s method of focusing on professionals under stress, combined with interesting cases and expected moments of humor. Last night, nearly all the major players, including stars Ben McKenzie and Regina King, were involved in the abandoned-child story line. Written by show creator Ann Biderman, this episode kept us guessing about where that baby would land: in Child Services, or returned to her former-addict mom. Even with a (relatively speaking) happy ending, it was a heart-breaker.

There was an excitingly-filmed suspect chase that ended with co-star Tom Everett Scott shooting the guy… with a “non-lethal” bean-bag gun. (When are we going to get some of the Scott character’s backstory? Southland is teasing us nicely.) I feel as though Southland is trying to cherry-pick the best elements of cop dramas such as NYPD Blue and, especially, Hill Street Blues, while building its own visual style and narrative rhythm. If so, that’s a smart decision: It invites a large audience to enjoy episodes that feel at once familiar and fresh.

The show continues to use Los Angeles and its neighborhoods well. (I’d swear that the motel the cops brought that girl and her grandmother to for safekeeping was the one I stayed in on Sunset Blvd. my first night in L.A.)

And next week — did you catch the coming attractions? Special guest star Tom Sizemore!!

I am so there…

Did you watch? What did you think?