“Southland” Inspires Us to Pay Tribute to a Cinema Staple

Hollywood loves its cops

So, we were reading about "Southland," the new cop show debuting April 9 (on NBC, natch), and we got to thinking about naive rookie cops and grizzled veterans (are there any other kind?), vice squads and private eyes --  on television and the big screen.

Then we hit upon the realization -- probably  the 23,984th person to do so -- that the the big wigs who make entertainment have a deep and abiding fascination with law enforcement in Los Angeles.

Okay, so we already kinda knew that. But once we began looking at films and shows, it seems that about every seventh thing made involves the LAPD or in SoCal policing in some form.

From the Keystone Cops manically hoofing it around an early downtown to cutie-patootie Ben McKenzie, formerly of "The OC" and now a star of "Southland," producers and writers and directors have pretty much turned to the Los Angeles Police Department and various law enforcement types time and again for inspiration.

If we began a rundown it would miss certainly a multitude of projects, but here goes: "Chinatown," "Training Day," "S.W.A.T," "The Black Dahlia," "Reservoir Dogs," "Changeling," "Lethal Weapon(s)," "Colors" and "Dragnet" -- well, let's just say, the list is impressive.

The LA cop remains a mythical archetype in Hollywood's mind eye, and the reasons for this are probably plentiful. 

Maybe it is because our city is sprawling and tangled and complicated, because there are millions and millions of us all trying to make it work in all the myriad ways we do, because Los Angeles is still seen as a land of dreams (including those that don't come true), or because we have such a visual, stunning City Hall that always looks a-maz-ing on film.

Hello, final scene of "L.A. Confidential"? Still thrills. 

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