Drama, comedy, reality: This is one of those nights where TV is firing on all cylinders.
Let's start with the heavy lifting. One of TV's most encouraging survival stories returns with the fifth-season premiere of TNT's uncommonly gritty police drama Southland (10/9c), a network reject (from NBC's darkest period) that thrives on cable, with a sharper focus and a determined avoidance of procedural cliché.
Each episode is like a graphic tour of duty on the streets of Los Angeles, and in the opener, it's not always immediately clear if the patrol cops and detectives in the line of fire are witnessing a real crime or make believe or some other sort of scam. (One vignette involving a brawl between naked men in a sauna looks like an outtake from Spartacus.) "Treat it like a circus," seasoned training office John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) advises his latest ride-along, an Afghan War vet with too much attitude. The media circus threatens to consume Cooper's former partner Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie), newly decorated and enjoying the attention a bit too much. Grounding these characters in the mundane distractions of unblemished real life, Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King) is adjusting to single motherhood with...
Even though he's still grieving for recently murdered Detective Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro), Southland's Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) will soon be assigned a new partner. And as TVGuide.com has learned exclusively, fans of the show will most definitely recognize Sammy's new wingman.
Southland's Kevin Alejandro reacts to shocking twist
Laz Alonso will reprise his role as Detective Gil Puente in the Season 3 finale. Alonso previously appeared in three episodes in Season 2 as a former partner of Nate's who helped Nate and Sammy work undercover on a gang case.
Sammy and Gil often disagreed on how to handle the case, so could there be more bad blood during their reunion?
Jeers to Southland for turning into LAPD Rehab.
Want more Cheers & Jeers? Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine.
I have no doubt that police officers and their spouses suffer from substance-abuse issues at a high rate along with the rest of the population, but it seems like everyone's copping on Season 3 of TNT's crime drama...
It's odd to think that the cast of a show entering its third season has never shot more than six episodes at a time, but that's the case for TNT's Southland.
The gritty police drama debuted as a midseason replacement on NBC in 2009 and earned a 13-episode renewal for Season 2. Then, NBC canceled the show before it even premiered, allowing TNT to buy and air the six episodes NBC had in the can in early 2010.
Check out photos of the Southland cast
So when TNT ordered a 10-episode third season, which begins Tuesday at 10/9c, the cast and crew were equally excited and cynical. "Well, the joke on set is...
Embrace your inner lizard. V is back for a second season tonight on ABC (9/8c), with a red tint in the air and an ominous shower of red rain (the episode's title) falling on the embattled earthlings, although on my screener, everything looked orange. The color of cheese.
Want more Matt Roush? Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!
If this alien-adventure melodrama were any more cartoonish, you might expect the Road Runner to "Beep Beep!" behind the evil Anna the next time she's foiled...