Cop shows have come a long way since Ponch and Jon punched the clock on CHiPs. TNT’s critically adored Southland — which returns for its fourth season this month — is especially mindful of maintaining its realism, employing LAPD vet Chic Daniel as the show’s technical adviser. Daniel and series star Michael Cudlitz give us some insight on how they keep it real.
American Way: How do you develop the show’s authenticity?
Chic Daniel: Right from the get-go, Southland producers brought me in, and I exposed the actors to police work — gave them some ride-alongs, put together some police schools, explained the history of the LAPD to them and got them out to the shooting range.
AW: Learning to “walk like a cop” isn’t jazz hands and easy choreography, is it?
Michael Cudlitz: Well, it’s more jazz hands than you would think. [Laughs] The big thing for me is just throwing on that [protective] vest. It’s the mindset; it changes the body. The confidence happens.
AW: The cast and crew do regular cop competitions at the L.A. Police Academy. Who’s the best shot?
MC: [Co-star] Shawn Hatosy was the best shot three years ago, but he missed it last year and I won. I don’t need everyone to know I’m the best; I know I’m the best.
CD: I’m taking the fifth.