You know a show's ensemble cast is a bit too large when you don't see half the cast in any given episode. This weeks episode of Southland was one of those times.
The story this week centered around the detective side of the force and the patrol cops were nowhere to be seen. That's a shame, really, as I've come to enjoy both groups.
I'm a particular fan of the two main beat cops, Officers John Cooper and Ben Sherman. Benjamin McKenzie, portraying Office Ben Sherman, says more with his facial expressions and sad eyes in an hour than most actors could get across in a novel length script. Michael Cudlitz, as John Cooper, plays a tough talking cops' cop with a down low personal life.
The two could have easily been worked into this week's storyline, even just that short bit about the German tourist shooting. It's seems as if the producers purposely left the beat cops out for whatever reason. I suppose it's more true to life and LAPD detectives probably do not run into the same street cops every day, but that's just what we're used to in television. When even one character is missing from an ensemble cast the writers usually drop in a quick, if sometimes random, explanation - "So and so is in San Francisco this week.", etc. No such explanation turned up in the episode.
I wonder if this split cast is something that will appear from time to time. I'm hoping not. While I'm a pretty forgiving guy, many people tend to tune into shows with ensemble casts for specific characters and I can see this sort of thing alienating certain viewers.
It was a pretty good episode, though.
Update: TV Squad agrees.