March 03, 2010 at 03:22 PM EST

Wow, what a blast of eloquent energy Southland is. Its new TNT episode last night took off like a rocket. The cops dealing with an angry crowd (and dealing with the cop who made the crowd angry); the triple homicide case; Ben dealing with a hellish date night — there wasn’t a moment in this hour that didn’t draw me in on some level.

While I regret seeing the excellent Tom Everett Scott’s character sidelined with an injury, it makes room for the flashy new homicide detective played by Amaury Nolasco. He’s already creating some fine tension between him and Regina King’s Lydia. And poor Chickie — what she goes through with now not one but two lousy squad-car partners in a row… well, this cannot end well, can it?

What I find impressive about Southland is that it is determined to present us with a series of highly refined, detailed character sketches while also doing the job of being a solid police procedural, with cases we want to follow to the end. I remember when the series first started, I was disenchanted with Michael Cudlitz’s John, who was introduced as a hectoring bully. Well, he’s turned into a far more complex, vexed character, hasn’t he?

That’s just one example of the kind of meticulousness that’s going into Southland in its second season.

Did you watch the season premiere?

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