The Shield: Season 1 (2002)

Season 1
The Shield

Critics Consensus

While there is certainly no shortage of cop dramas, The Shield's thrilling first season offers a unique perspective and provocative performances that will leave viewers breathless.



Critic Ratings: 21


Audience Score

User Ratings: 73

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Air date: Mar 12, 2002

As Captain David Aceveda (Benito Martinez) gives a press conference, touting impressive crime statistics and community outreach in Farmington (L.A.) under his watch, Detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and his Strike Team chase down a drug dealer, and Mackey impolitely exposes the perp's intimately concealed stash. Detectives Dutch Wagenbach (Jay Karnes) and Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder) discover a murdered woman whose young daughter is nowhere to be found. Captain Aceveda chews out Mackey when the insolent detective registers his fourth excessive force complaint since the captain's appointment. The captain also convinces Detective Terry Crowley (Reed Diamond) to help him uncover dirt on Mackey, including his connection to a local drug dealer. In exchange for helping Aceveda make a federal case, Crowley wants a job with the Justice Department. Looking for the missing girl, Dutch and Claudette interrogate her distraught crackhead father (the late Denis Forest). He eventually admits to murdering his wife and selling his daughter to a pedophile. They then bring in George Sawyer (Brian Boone), and Dutch manages to trick him into confessing that he bought the girl and traded her to another pedophile, Dr. Bernard Grady (Jim Ortlieb). The two detectives have little luck cracking Grady. In desperation, Aceveda has Mackey conduct his own form of interrogation. "Good cop and bad cop have gone home," Mackey tells Grady, "I'm a whole new kind of cop." Dutch is trying to get to know Officer Danny Sofer (Catherine Dent), but is repeatedly interrupted and humiliated by the married Mackey, who has already slept with her. Crowley joins the Strike Team as they execute a daring raid on a big-time dealer. The pilot for The Shield was directed by Clark Johnson, who co-starred with Diamond on Homicide: Life on the Street.

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Air date: Mar 19, 2002

Danny (Catherine Dent) shows up at the hospital, where Aceveda (Benito Martinez) gives everyone the news that Crowley (Reed Diamond) is dead. Acevedo wants to conduct his own investigation, but Assistant Chief Gilroy (John Diehl) tells him to let IAD handle it. Danny offers Mackey (Michael Chiklis) a shoulder to cry on, and lets her rookie partner, Julien (Michael Jace) know that in the wake of a cop killing, they have to let people on the street know who's in charge. Acevedo finds out that his contact told others at the Justice Department that Crowley was helping them investigate Mackey. Acevedo suspects that Mackey was responsible for Crowley's death, and vows to bring him to justice. Shane (Walton Goggins) gets a little shaky at Crowley's funeral, and Mackey warns him to keep his cool. Dutch (Jay Karnes) and Wyms (CCH Pounder) interrogate a young gang member suspected of murdering a street vendor who had stopped paying protection money. Acevedo gets Dutch to help him interrogate Shane, who he recognizes as the weak link in Mackey's chain. Gilroy makes Acevedo back off. Mackey assures Gilroy, who told him about the Justice Department probe, that Crowley's shooting was a "bust gone bad." Julien is coerced into a sexual initiation rite by his fellow officers. This episode was directed by Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls).

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Air date: Mar 26, 2002

Aceveda (Benito Martinez) announces a Farmington-wide sweep of all outstanding warrants. Connie (Jamie Brown) goes to see Mackey (Michael Chiklis) to complain that a john slashed her when she tried to put a condom on him. He's busy serving warrants, so he asks Dutch (Jay Karnes) to take her to the hospital and find the john. On their raid, Mackey's squad finds East-Coast NBA star Derrick Tripp (Elimu Nelson) in a drug dealer's shoddy hotel room with an unlicensed gun. Knowing how Tripp manhandles the Lakers, Mackey and Shane (Walton Goggins) decide to keep the hoopster occupied for the day so he misses the game, while Shane lays down a big bet on the home team. Tomas (Brent Roam), one of the men busted by Danny (Catherine Dent) and Julien (Michael Jace) mentions that he's seen Julien outside a gay club, the Abbey. Julien, a devout Christian, denies it. Connie identifies her john, Richard Greeley (Kirk Baltz), a schizophrenic with an inoperable brain tumor who saves his semen in his locked refrigerator. Dutch, off on a crazy tangent, questions Greeley about a series of seemingly unrelated prostitute murders, but Claudette (CCH Pounder) turns out to have the key to cracking the case. Mackey goes off to tend to Connie, leaving Shane and Lemonhead (Kenneth Johnson) to babysit Tripp. Shane, jealous of the athlete's money and fame, gets into a serious confrontation with Tripp. Danny and Julien uncover an arsenal, and Mackey and his wife Corrine (Cathy Cahlin Ryan) learn that their son Matthew (Joel Rosenthal) may have a developmental disorder.

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Air date: Apr 2, 2002

Danny (Catherine Dent) and Lemonhead (Kenny Johnson) are moonlighting, working security at a "shake club," where rap impresario Kern Little (Sticky Fingaz) is having a party with his girl and fellow recording artist, Tyesha (Chene Lawson). Kern's rival and former labelmate, T-Bonz (Dex Elliott Sanders), arrives, leading to a shootout in which two people are killed. To make matters worse for Mackey (Michael Chiklis), his own personal drug dealer, Rondell (Walter Jones), was on the scene and fired off a couple of shots. Mackey has him turn over a couple of guys from his side, and orders him to keep his dealers off the street until things settle down. But Rondell doesn't follow orders very well. Mackey gets Kern and T-Bonz to agree to a 24-hour truce while he (Mackey) arbitrates their financial disagreement. Things get more complicated for him when Danny identifies him (from a mug shot) for Acevedo (Benito Martinez). Mackey tells Rondell not to worry, but Rondell decides to take action on his own. Acevedo gets Dutch (Jay Karnes) and Claudette (CCH Pounder) to track down a missing illegal immigrant day worker as a favor to Jorge Machado (Efrain Figueroa), a political powerbroker who's thinking about helping Acevedo run for the city council. When the ceasefire is broken, Mackey comes up with a unique way to settle the dispute between Kern and T-Bonz.

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Air date: Apr 9, 2002

Mackey and the Strike Team bust an Armenian gang's drug delivery, only to have the drugs---and the vehicle they're in---stolen from them. Also: Mackey learns his son is autistic.

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Air date: Apr 16, 2002

The Strike Team busts an underage prostitution ring, while Capt. Aceveda continues to investigate Mackey. Also: Dutch (Jay Karnes) works with an FBI profiler to track a serial killer.

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Air date: Apr 23, 2002

Mackey and Vendrell work with a detective from another squad (Carlos Sanz) in the investigation of the slaying of eight gang members at a firing range. Also, Aceveda continues to investigate Mackey's activities.

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Air date: Apr 30, 2002

Allegations against the Strike Team are front-page news, and the team is broken up pending the investigation. Mackey threatens to reveal that Officer Lowe is gay if he won't recant his statement about the Strike Team.

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Air date: May 7, 2002

A truck is hijacked and the driver viciously beaten. Mackey (Michael Chiklis) goes to work on the case, despite the fact that it's his day off, annoying his overburdened wife, Corrine (Cathy Cahlin Ryan). The driver describes his assailant's tattoos, leading Mackey and the Strike Team to suspect Hector (Rolando Molina), a member of the Los Mags gang. They stake out the home of Hector's girlfriend, Tigre (Liz Jemielita). When a young man shows up at her door, Mackey and Lemonhead (Kenny Johnson) go after him. Mistaking a carton of stolen cigarettes for a gun, Lemonhead shoots the young man. Mackey plants a "throwaway" gun on him. The young man turns out to be, not Hector, but Chaco (Robert Zepeda), Tigre's brother, a reformed gang member who is trying to lead a clean life. Chaco survives the shooting, but now faces a trumped-up gun charge. Mackey and Lemonhead have to find a way to clear Chaco and nail Hector. Complicating the situation, Lemonhead develops a romantic relationship with Tigre. Meanwhile, Claudette (CCH Pounder) is unhappy when her father, Bryce (Roscoe Lee Browne), arrives at the station and tries to get her to reconcile with her estranged daughter. Claudette is also unhappy about the rapport that quickly builds between her father and her partner, Dutch (Jay Karnes), as the cops investigate the case of Maynard (Ralph Drischell), a blind old man, left chained to a stake in his backyard by his uncaring son, Lloyd (Mystro Clark).

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Air date: May 14, 2002

One of the strippers at a local club is leading customers into a back alley for sex so that her partner can mug them. While Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and the Strike Team work an unconventional sting operation, Julien (Michael Jace) and Danny (Catherine Dent) catch a guy, Sean Taylor (Michael Kelly), pleasuring himself in a nearby alley, and let him off with a warning. But when Dutch (Jay Karnes) hears about it, he insists on tracking down Taylor, who he instinctively believes may be his mythical serial killer. Connie (Jamie Brown) calls Mackey in a panic when her mother dies suddenly of a stroke, leaving her to take care of her infant son on her own. Mackey takes the boy home (much to Corrine's (Cathy Cahlin Ryan) chagrin) and leaves someone to look after Connie while she tries to kick heroin. The Strike Team nails Tulips (Nichole Hiltz), a nubile stripper, after she leads Shane (Walton Goggins) into the alley to be mugged. Shane, sensing a rapport between them, does everything he can to get Tulips a good deal, even after all the other girls at the club back her partner's story about Tulips being the mastermind behind the muggings. Tereza Verela (Sandra Purpuro), a reporter, stirs things up at the station by trying to dig up dirt on Aceveda (Benito Martinez). Danny is bitten by a transvestite hooker, necessitating a trip to the hospital, while Julien contemplates payback. Dutch interrogates Taylor, who takes the opportunity to psychoanalyze and humiliate the sensitive cop.

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The Shield: Season 1 Photos

Tv Season Info

A corrupt and brutal LA detective runs an elite squad by his own rules in a neighbourhood ravaged by drugs and gangs.

Cast & Crew

Michael Jace
Officer Julien Lowe
Catherine Dent
Officer Danielle "Danny" Sofer
Michael Chiklis
Det. Vic Mackey
Walton Goggins
Det. Shane Vendrell
Benito Martinez
Capt. David Aceveda
Jay Karnes
Det. Holland " Dutch" Wagenbach
CCH Pounder
Det. Claudette Wyms
Kenny Johnson
Curtis Lemansky
John Diehl
Assistant Chief Ben Gilroy
Cathy Cahlin Ryan
Corrine Mackey
David Rees Snell
Ronnie Gardocki
Brent Roam
Tomas Motyashik
Jamie Brown
Connie Riesler
Efrain Figueroa
Jorge Machado
Frank Grillo
Paul Jackson
Reed Diamond
Terry Crowley
April Grace
Frances Housely
Walter Emanuel Jones
Rondell Robinson
Sticky Fingaz
Kern Little
Scott Brazil
Executive Producer
Shawn Ryan
Executive Producer
Nick Gomez
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Critic Reviews for The Shield Season 1

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (10)

There isn't a single decent person in The Shield and that makes it the both the most devastating critique of America and the must-watch show of the season.

Oct 25, 2019 | Full Review…

Does The Shield make for good television? Only if you think good TV stimulates and provokes.

Oct 25, 2019 | Full Review…

By this week's season finale, [Vic Mackey] has become the most memorable, divisive and hard-to-pin-down character of the TV season--and his series, a lesson in the difference between network and cable TV making.

Jan 9, 2019 | Full Review…

Surprisingly... all of this feels extremely new, which, of course, it isn't.

Nov 7, 2018 | Full Review…

One of the absolute best.

Apr 3, 2020 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Because the show spins off into so many different directions, The Shield never loses steam, always creating some controversy and shocking the viewer whenever Mackey and his team break the rules.

Oct 28, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

These might not be comforting characterizations, but they make for compelling television.

Oct 25, 2019 | Full Review…

The cast is excellent and the writing is competent -- but the show could be better than it is.

Oct 25, 2019 | Full Review…

After the shocking events of last season's finale, The Shield has now entered into one of its most ominous and engrossing plotlines yet.

Mar 29, 2019 | Rating: 8.5/10 | Full Review…

Mackey and Aceveda are just two of a show full of interesting characters played by a strong cast that includes CCH Pounder, Jay Kames, Catherine Dent and Michael Jace.

Jan 9, 2019 | Full Review…

Boy, is Mackey one angry guy. And, man, do I love that kind of anger in a cop drama.

Jan 9, 2019 | Full Review…

It's not just Ryan's plotting that makes "The Shield" stand out. The dialogue simply captures the odd, humorous conversations people have every day.

Nov 19, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Shield: Season 1

  • Jan 19, 2021
    The birth of a new TV classic, in spite of the often gratuitous violence
  • Aug 06, 2020
    It seems hard not to compare it to The Wire which doesn't hold a candle to; it is a solid 'gritty cop drama.'
  • Jul 06, 2020
    I hate almost everything, but this is a pretty darn good show. Let me paint a picture for you: a short, fat, bald, dumb, white pig is a dirty cop who ruins the lives of the white people who are his closest friends and family. He also ruins his own life, too! Wow! Great show! Vic Mackey is the lead character in this awesome show and he is the aforementioned fat, dumb, white pig who is a dirty cop. He has no problems with murdering other white people, e.g. a white cop named Terry Crowley who is a snitch. He has no problems cheating on his white wife, Corinne, with fellow cop Danny Sofer. He bullies his white co-worker, Dutch. Pig Fatty, oops, I mean Vic Mackey, runs a team of all white cops called the Strike Team. They are all corrupt like Big Fatty. One of them, Shane, is a good ol' boy from the South who is a racist. Another, Lem, looks, sounds, and acts like a forty-year-old teenager. The last of them, Ronnie, sucks so much they barely give him any lines or screen time. Ha ha. All of their lives are brought to ruin by their own corrupt shenanigans. Fantastic. Really, bravo, bravissimo! But, I do have a few gripes about this show about white men ruining their own lives. First, Pig Mackey never shows one ounce of remorse about killing the white cop snitch Terry Crowley by shooting him right in the face, but later in the show, Bald Fatty seems morally outraged about another cop's scheme to get rich by buying up land in an area that has been intentionally deprived of police resources. Come on, really? If anything the fat pig Mackey should have demanded a cut of the action and then tried to take over the scheme himself. Don't the writers know their own character? Secondly, most of the seven seasons of this show are just fallout from the Strike Team's money train heist. I felt that there should have been one or two seasons at most of the money train heist fallout and then the show should have moved on to something else. It's like the writers just fell in love with the idea of the Strike Team suffering the consequences of their greed and never moved past it. Third, throughout the series the writers conjure up several nemeses for Pig Mackey, but most of them are actually kind of lame, especially Armadillo, played by Danny Pino. The actor does the worst Spanish accent, too. Fourth, there is way too much plot armor surrounding Big Fatty at times. One especially egregious instance is when he and the Strike Team smuggle Armadillo's brother into the States. Big Fatty's plan is utterly stupid and someone that stupid only survives due to massive plot armor. Fifth, the writers really have a fetish for significant others and hangers-on who are annoying as all hell and/or total screw-ups: Tomas Motyashik, Mara, Mara's mom, Emolia, Kavanaugh's ex-wife, and Connie. Makes me wonder about the significant others of the writers and the people the writers choose to associate with. Finally, the series ends with the fat white pig having ruined his own life and the lives of everyone around him -- his wife and children have left him and are in witness protection, his daughter has turned into a "problem child" due to his bad influence, his Strike Team members are all dead or in jail, he won't be on the streets like he wants to -- but he ends up an ICE officer who gets to keep a gun in his desk even though he totally doesn't need it at all for his new job. His new employers antagonize him by relegating him to a boring desk job writing reports. Um, why would you antagonize a known cop killer who has lost everything and has nothing to lose and keeps a gun in his desk at work? Sometimes the writing on this show can be really dumb. But, I really did enjoy this show, though.
  • Jun 12, 2019
    I was excited to finally give this show a watch, but I'm underwhelmed by the quality of its writing and its insanely high scores from the audience and critics. It's a grittier version of the Rockford Files or Hill Street Blues or NYPD Blue, but the writing is SO heavy handed and some of the performances are just awful. The tone is all over the place from melodrama to overwrought preaching to dark humor to simple farce. They tried to pack too much into this show, and I honestly don't think they could decide what they were trying to be except different. The execution of what is a perfectly fine concept is just sloppy and inconsistent. Some good, sure, but nowhere near the top of peak TV of the last 20 years. It's simply trying way too hard and the humanity of its characters gets lost. There is no one to care about because they are all drawn so thin. At times it feels like an SNL skit about a gritty cop TV show.
  • Jun 11, 2018
    Gripping immorality.
  • Jun 04, 2017
    Still one of the best TV crimes dramas there has been. So gritty, so entertaining. Vic Mackey is such a great character. Maybe went a bit crazy in the last couple of seasons but still a brilliant show.
  • Jul 12, 2016
    Michael Chiklis, Walton Goggins, and unique cinematography for this genre of TV. But after an absolutely phenomenal first episode, it stops being as good, and it honestly kind of waters down or diminishes what happened in the pilot.

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