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Published: Monday, 11/24/2008

'The Shield' wraps up its 7-year story arc tomorrow

BY ROB OWEN
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE
ZAP2IT.COM

Recent episodes have seen the noose tightening around Vic, his partner in crime Ronnie (David Rees Snell), and his former friend-turned-rival, Shane (Walton Goggins).

After last week's intense, maybe-even-superior penultimate episode, in which Vic negotiated immunity for himself - but not Ronnie - it appears Vic won't be going to jail. But with Claudette (CCH Pounder) and Dutch (Jay Karnes) closing in, a happy ending seems equally unlikely.

Series creator Shawn Ryan, who wrote the finale, said his goal was to remain true to the series as viewers have experienced it over the past seven seasons.

"The shows that stay true to themselves in their finale rather than try to do something that was outside the umbrella of what they usually did, those were the finales that for me succeeded more," Ryan said. "I think if and when you watch the finale, it will feel like The Shield universe. It will feel completely appropriate."

Pounder was more effusive.

"It's the greatest finale that you'll ever see anywhere," she said. "Hands down. Blew my socks off. I'm not a great fan of The Shield as a watcher in the sense of I'm like a cringy person. I'm a bit of a chicken even though my role is so huge and nonchickenlike, but this finale is what Vic Mackey deserves."

Having watched the finale, I think both of Pounder's points are arguable, but the finale does feel like the show. Ryan and director Clark Johnson, who also directed the show's pilot and has a cameo in the finale, certainly succeed at crafting a 90-minute good-bye that's fitting, right down to the song that plays over the worth-watching end credits

(" Long Time Ago" by the band Concrete Blonde).

Titled Family Meeting, the episode includes tears, deaths, regrets, recriminations, apologies, and even some hope and tenderness. Most of the characters get at least a moment - Julien (Michael Jace), the ambiguously gay cop whose sexuality was a major plot point early in the series, casts a lingering glance at a gay couple holding hands - while others get much meatier scenes.

There's a requisite final showdown between Vic and Claudette and a tender scene of friendship and concern between Dutch and Claudette.

But will fans be satisfied with the disposition of Vic Mackey? I can imagine varying reactions, but I don't think the finale will damage the show's legacy. The Shield has long showcased one of the best ensemble casts on television. Chiklis won many of the accolades, and they're well deserved, but The Shield would not be nearly as strong a series without the powerful work of the full cast, particularly Pounder and Karnes.

And in recent seasons the greater prominence for David Marciano's do-nothing cop Steve Billings has been a wonderful comedic addition even as other cops - particularly new mom Danny (Catherine Dent) and Julian - receded.

After tomorrow, the show will slip into our collective memories as a series in the past tense. It was a fine hour of television for both adrenaline junkies and fans of character drama, and because of that, The Shield will not be soon forgotten.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rob Owen is the TV editor for the Post-Gazette.

Contact him at:

rowen@post-gazette.com

The Cheetah Girls have been dropped from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, following racy photos of member Adrienne Bailon appearing online, reports the New York Daily News.

Although Macy's officials blame "scheduling issues" on the Cheetah Girls' ejection, thus far the group's schedule for the holiday remains clear.

Last week, semi-nude photos of Bailon, 25, hit the Internet. At the time she and her spokesman, publicist Jonathan Jaxson, claimed that these were unauthorized pics removed from a stolen laptop. Now Jaxson claims that it was all a publicity stunt to give her image an edge.



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