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Southland Scoop, Plus Save or Sink the New Shows

Ben McKenzie, Michael Cudlitz, Southland Richard Foreman/NBC

So much exciting new TV tonight with the premiere of Parks and Recreation and Southland on NBC, as well as Harper's Island over on CBS. We already chatted up Rashida Jones to get you the dish on P-Rex, so now it's time for Ben McKenzie to step up with the scoop on Southland.

Read on to find out why Richie Rich became a flatfoot and when we'll learn more about John Cooper's personal life, plus get your chance to Save or Sink Southland, Parks and Recreation and Harper's Island...

Genre Issues: Is Southland a cop show or a soap opera about cops? Time will tell; for his part Benjamin McKenzie believes, "What we're trying to do is different. It's not so much about the resolution of the crime. Who gets punished or doesn't, who goes to jail or not, but about the people who are working on it, the people that are first responders to it, the patrol officers in particular. How are their lives affected by seeing it, by being involved with it, by being involved with the crime. How does it affect them emotionally, on the job and off the job."

Man versus Clan: We'll continue to follow the rookie's struggles to fit in for some time to come. According to McKenzie, "[The experience] is like getting hazed into a fraternity, but it's a fraternity you're going to be in for the rest of your life."

Our Hero: Rich kid Ben Sherman (the name is a total coincidence, BTW) chose to become a beat officer in the LAPD to set himself apart from his father, reveals Ben McKenzie. "He very definitely chose to become a patrol officer. He chose to start off in law enforcement at the street level, in order to go his own way. His father is a high-powered defense lawyer, and [Ben] could have gone to law school and become a prosecutor if he really hated his father that much." But he didn't, and lucky us, because doesn't McKenzie look dashing in those blues?

The Framework of an Episode: The freeze-frame technique that sets up Ben's story with "photo and caption" in the pilot will be used in every episode. Apparently exec producers Chris Chulack and Ann Biderman came across a cache of old LAPD historical photos that inspired a narrative conceit for every episode. According to executive producer John Wells,  "A lot of the photographer's notes on old crime-scene photos were really pretty compelling. On one of them, there was a trunk seeping blood that they found in Union Station, and the caption underneath was, 'Officers found bleeding trunk, hoped that it was a deer.' "

To Be Continued: The very subtle reveal that Michael Cudlitz's tough-guy cop John Cooper is gay will be explored in more depth in episode three in a seven-minute scene that was cut out of tonight's pilot for time. Says Wells, "He is a gay police officer, [but] certainly at the LAPD that's not an extraordinary event. It will simply be a fact of his life."

And now for the interactive portion of tonight's program! Are you in or are you out? Vote in the poll!

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What did you think of tonight's new TV? Are you liking Southland and P-Rex? Post in the comments!

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