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The Shield is an American television drama series starring Michael Chiklis which aired on FX Networks in the United States and other networks internationally. Known for its controversial portrayal of corrupt police officers, it was originally advertised as Rampart in reference to the true life Rampart Division police scandal, which the show's Strike Team was loosely based upon. The first season gained the most Emmy nominations for a basic cable drama. The series was created by Shawn Ryan and The Barn Productions for Fox Television Studios and Sony Pictures Television.
Notable film actors who took extended roles on the show included Glenn Close in the fourth season, Anthony Anderson in Season 4, 5 and 6 , Forest Whitaker in seasons 5 and 6, Franka Potente in season 6 and Laurie Holden in season 7. The Shield began airing its seventh and final season on September 2, 2008, and concluded on November 25, 2008.
The final season won a 2008 AFI Award for best television series.
The Shield is about an experimental division of the Los Angeles Police Department set up in the fictional Farmington district ("the Farm") of Los Angeles, using a converted church ("the Barn") as their police station, and featuring a group of detectives called the Strike Team who will stop at nothing to bring their version of justice to the streets. Michael Chiklis portrays the show's main character, Strike Team leader Vic Mackey. However, the show has an ensemble cast, and as a result, usually runs a number of separate story lines through each episode.
Detective Vic Mackey is the leader of the Strike Team, a four-man anti-gang unit based on the Los Angeles Police Department's real-life Rampart Division CRASH unit. (Rampart was seriously considered as the series name and was even used in some early promotional ads for the series.) The Strike Team uses a variety of illegal and unethical methods to maintain peace on the streets, while making a profit through illegal drug protection schemes and robbery. The Strike Team isn't above planting drugs on and coercing confessions out of gang members or framing them. Attempts to give the team a fifth member have frequently led to near-catastrophe for the group.
The Shield has a variety of subplots, notably David Aceveda's political aspirations and suffering a sexual assault; Vic Mackey's struggle to cope with a failing marriage; Shane Vendrell's rocky, new marriage; and Julien Lowe's internal conflicts between his belief in the teachings of the Bible and his homosexuality.
Common themes are the citizens' distrust of police, the social impact of drugs and gang warfare, and the conflict between ethics and political expediency. Most characters are portrayed as having both vice and virtue. For example, Vic's loving relationship with his children contrasts with his thuggish approach to police work, although his brutality is generally directed at those who seem well-deserving of such treatment. For example, in Season 2, the Strike Team prepares to rob the "Armenian Money Train," a money laundering operation of the Armenian Mafia. Another episode had Mackey cornering a serial rapist, then letting him be mauled by a police dog before calling the dog off.