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The Shield: Edited Shield Review
PREVIOUSLY, ON THE RAIDER:
The Shield is probably my favorite non-Simpsons show on television today. I go through the series almost continuously, watching a season a week most of the time. You can't not love the show if you are a being with any intelligence. It's impossible. You show me a hater of The Shield and I'll show you a goddamn moron. Since I love the show so much, I'm on the lookout for anything Shield related, from scripts to shirts to Billings memorabilia (yes, it does exist). During a bout of insomnia, I happened upon a syndicated airing of The Shield. Shield! Awesome! Not exactly. Syndicated, despite being shown on a Saturday night at 11:30 PM, means a lot of shit has been edited out. Considering some of the most hilarious moments The Shield could not be put on network television, it fucking guts the show and makes it lame and oftentimes incomprehensible. But in the incomprehensibility new hilarity manifests itself; like A&E Sopranos, the show becomes funny for what's not in it.
The first time I chanced upon Edited Shield, it was episode 6x04, "The New Guy", also known as the debut of Kevin Hiatt. I was kinda drunk at the time I watched it, but still I noted several changes to the episode which perplexed me. For one thing, entire dialogue exchanges go missing as a result of censorship, making several bits of "The New Guy" inexplicable. When Vic explains Hiatt's interrogation tactic to Ronnie, the pussy line doesn't happen, so they laugh for no reason. Then Shane comes in and reacts to the unwarranted laughter. See? Fucking retarded, man. While not as jarring or incomprehensible as, say, The Sopranos A&E editing or the TV version of The Big Lebowski, it still is odd, especially since the people behind the editing didn't bother to throw in some loop lines to replace the words they cut out of the dialogue. If you're going to go through with editing something for syndication, at least have the actors or someone who can sound like the actors voice some replacement words. I doubt it'd cost a whole lot to do that. Instead, the product looks as though skipping around and missing words occur as a result of a shitty television reception (or for those of you with digital cable, the feed getting fucked up momentarily).
There are discrepancies in what can and can not occur in Edited Shield which highlight America's moral hypocrisy. Violence? Sure. Go ahead. But profanity and sex? Not so fast, superstar. Not only that, the swearing barrier between acceptable and unacceptable makes little sense. They seemed to be able to use bitch, but pussy, shit, and asshole were out of reach. I don't understand the censorship at work there. How exactly is asshole more offensive than bitch? Edited Shield's strange language choices don't end there either. When Princess tells Claudette and Dutch "looks like you got another girl ass raped", editing shortens it to "looks like you got another girl raped". What makes anal rape worse than vaginal rape? Shit, why not censor the entire statement, since apparently only certain forms of rape are deemed acceptable for viewing at 11:30 PM on a Saturday night. More proof syndicators hate the gays and men who dabble in the 'forbidden' insertion (not to mention stupid girls who do it because it keeps them virgins). I didn't see the episodes where Vic stoved Armadillo or the torturing and killing of Guardo, but I bet the violence was not cut in any way, while the dialogue was cut to ribbons. You gotta be [long silence]!
The worst part of the editing is how poorly it's done. Since the editor has no new material to work with in the censorship, all they can do is remove material. Cut out dialogue. Remove shots. Transition to the next scene if the old one was going somewhere blue. The shittiness of this method shone through during my screening of my second episode of Edited Shield, "Haunts". That episode contains a lot of cursing and some nudity and violence (...like every episode, duh). Remember when Shane is walking around in his gown and you can see his ass? You can't in the edited version. And the way in which the editing is done is abrupt. The editing team of monkeys just slice out the offending bit without care if the resulting scene has any continuity or sense to it. Apparently it is better to remove offensive material than maintain any sense of narrative flow. Not only do long pauses between words happen, and sentences trail off into nothing, plotlines become obscured because the manner presented involves nudity or bad language or both. I wonder how the editing team handled Vic fucking Kavanaugh's ex-wife. My guess: they didn't.
One does wonder why networks and syndicated networks bother to purchase syndication rights for mature television when they know from the start it cannot be aired intact. Does anybody who cannot afford HBO or cable want to settle for hacked apart episodes which remove a lot of content central to the entertainment value of the show in question? With the popularity of DVDs and DVD rental services, it seems as though edited mature shows' market dried up a couple years ago at least. So who watches it? I suspect Edited Shield and Edited Sopranos and Edited Wire appeal to two demographics: people who are really bored and drunk people who feel like watching some television. I fell into the latter category and spent much time in the former as a youth. It's a testament to how utterly boring and devoid of meaning people's lives are, especially the unemployed, when reruns of bad material are watched on the basis of needing something to do and/or not feeling like changing the channel. You won't believe how many episodes of Becker I saw through that method. Too goddamn many. Those who schedule Edited Shield rely on those watching television late on a Saturday night really do have nothing else worth doing.
The hilarity of Edited Shield shows that censorship is always a bad thing, even when unintentionally creating amusement. I don't give a fuck about impressionable children, and if they want to watch they are going to watch, regardless of parental overprotection. Censoring selectively to suit an agenda of puritanical values is even worse than general censorship. Again, the editing removes none of the violence while just excising curse words. If you're going to be an asshole who edits shit to render something incomprehensible and inane, at least be consistent in your self-righteous morality. Something airing at 11:30 PM on a Saturday night shouldn't need to be edited anyway. Now, I'm assuming these shitty edited version's existence stems from SpikeTV's airing of the program in syndication. That also makes no sense whatsoever. Cable channels aren't bound by the FCC bullshit. Isn't SpikeTV supposed to be some hardcore, uber-masculine network? What's manly about censoring material construed as unfit for the eyes and ears of the lovely children who must be protected by all things at all times? Censorship is bad and idiots are bad. Combine the two and you have a lethal combination of shit on your hands.