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December 22, 2014

'The Shield' Creator Shawn Ryan on the DVD Box Set and Alternate Endings

by Kim Potts, posted Nov 4th 2009 12:47AM
Ah, 'The Shield.' Few other shows -- maybe 'The Wire' or 'The Sopranos' -- can make a TV fan as wistful as a mere mention of FX's 2002-08 cop drama, the show that solidified FX as a cable network that could hang with the likes of HBO, turned Michael Chiklis from 'The Commish' into one of the toughest and, yes, sexiest men in primetime, and ended its seven-season run with one of the most satisfying series finales in TV history.

The show, created by one-time 'Nash Bridges' writer and 'Angel' producer Shawn Ryan, has just been released on DVD with 'The Shield: Complete Series' (Sony Home Entertainment), a lavish book-type package that features all seven seasons on 28 discs, with cast and crew commentary on each episode, a new featurette on the real-life Los Angeles police scandal that inspired the series and a new behind-the-scenes featurette/set tour of the show's police offices, "The Barn."

Ryan, whose real-life wife Cathy Cahlin Ryan played Corrine, the wife of Chiklis' Vic Mackey, on the show, is now busily helming the Fox drama 'Lie to Me' and the upcoming FX comedy 'Terriers,' but took time out to talk to AOL about 'The Shield,' an unexpected fan encounter and how he's lost some serious space on his DVD shelf this year.Ah, 'The Shield.' Few other shows -- maybe 'The Wire' or 'The Sopranos' -- can make a TV fan as wistful as a mere mention of FX's 2002-08 cop drama, the show that solidified FX as a cable network that could hang with the likes of HBO, turned Michael Chiklis from 'The Commish' into one of the toughest and, yes, sexiest men in primetime, and ended its seven-season run with one of the most satisfying series finales in TV history.

The show, created by one-time 'Nash Bridges' writer and 'Angel' producer Shawn Ryan, has just been released on DVD with 'The Shield: Complete Series' (Sony Home Entertainment), a lavish book-type package that features all seven seasons on 28 discs, with cast and crew commentary on each episode, a new featurette on the real-life Los Angeles police scandal that inspired the series and a new behind-the-scenes featurette/set tour of the show's police offices, "The Barn."

Ryan, whose real-life wife Cathy Cahlin Ryan played Corrine, the wife of Chiklis' Vic Mackey, on the show, is now busily helming the Fox drama 'Lie to Me' and the upcoming FX comedy 'Terriers,' but took time out to talk to AOL about 'The Shield,' an unexpected fan encounter and how he's lost some serious space on his DVD shelf this year.

I'm holding 'The Shield' box set in my hand, rather both hands ... it's figuratively and literally a very heavy show.
Haha, you can do curls with that can't you? It really works your biceps.

What's it like to hold this beautiful collection in your hands, and really see seven years of your life in this box?
Yeah, I got it last week, and it feels like it's a substantial piece of work. We put a lot into it in our seven seasons, so it feels fitting that it's hefty; it's a weighty piece of programming, and it's cool that I'm gonna have this DVD that, in 10 years, I can give to my kids, and they'll have a complete accounting for what their father was doing when they were younger.

The show helped build FX's reputation, since the network wasn't available to a huge chunk of viewers back then. So how important was DVD to building 'The Shield's' fan base?
The ShieldDVD was very important to us. We were amongst the first shows that started to release DVDs pretty quickly after our season had finished airing. And in our case, [the DVD was out] after the first season aired and before the second one premiered, and because 'The Shield' was very serialized, it was beneficial to have them on disc, when someone can watch them all in a row, or several at a time. I always found that, every season there was a new group of people who had not watched any of the previous seasons as they aired. But someone would give them the first season on DVD, and they'd get hooked. So we had people who would come to the show late in the game, who had discovered it on DVD, and there were some who would only watch it on DVD, because they wanted that viewing experience.

Aside from the financial benefits -- the bigger budgets -- DVD sales helped provide, did the whole process of knowing the show would have a big presence on DVD affect the way you approached it creatively?
Well, it did in that we thought a lot about how things would play. We had to assume that people would have a pretty thorough knowledge of the show and that they would be watching pretty closely, so we had to make sure we were carrying things over, that we were being consistent with something we had said or done before. It made us work harder, knowing people would be looking at specific things. And we were also thinking about the extra things we could do, could film, that we could include on the DVDs and make fans feel more included in it.

Did that make it more fun for you, as the show's creator and producer?
Oh, God yeah. I used to say, we certainly don't have 50 percent of America watching our show, but we have three percent of America for whom 'The Shield' was by far their favorite show. And those people wanted to know everything they could about it. I guess the best way I could tell you about that is that I went on vacation one year, in Hawaii, and drove into this little town and found a local pizza joint. And I walked into this pizza joint and was getting ready to order something and the guy at the counter looked at me and completely freaked out. He was like, "Oh my God, you're Shawn Ryan!" I was like, "Yeah," and he [knew me] from watching all the extras on 'The Shield' DVDs.

'The Shield' series finale was so intense, surprising in some ways, but ultimately very satisfying. Had you considered any other endings, especially for Vic Mackey?
Oh yeah, we considered lots of different endings. I mean, one of the things that I think was true about 'The Shield' is that we never assumed we were so collectively brilliant that the first idea we had was always the best. Usually it was not the best. So we discussed all sorts of scenarios, from sending Vic to prison, to killing him, to letting him get away scot free. Different scenarios for all the characters. It took us a while to get to where we ended it, but I think it was a good place.

Another great drama you co-created and produced, 'The Unit,' was also recently released in a full series DVD box set. You've had to make some space on your DVD shelves this year.
You have no idea, especially since I like to have extra copies, because when friends come by, they want to take one with them.

You've made so many great episodes of TV ... are you a big TV viewer?
Oh, I watch far too much TV, yeah. I like to watch everything. I like to watch comedies, 'The Office' and 'Family Guy,' and 'Modern Family' now. I like 'Lost.' 'Sons of Anarchy.'

Your new FX series, 'Terriers,' with Donal Logue as a former cop who starts a private eye business with his best friend, has been described as a comedic drama. Is it good to be doing something lighter?
Yes. I was trying to do that for a while. I kept telling people these last seven or eight years that I'm actually not the dark, depressed person that you would think I was if you were only watching 'The Shield.'

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