DEA: Detriot
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (4th May 2009).
The Film

There’s not much I can write in this review that will sway people toward this title one way or the other. Either you’re a fan of shows of this ilk or you’re not. I grew up on a steady diet of “Cops” (1989-present) and I continue to enjoy every similar project that has emerged since that show debuted 20 years ago. “DEA: Detroit” (2008-Present) is not much different, although with this particular program you get to know the guys who patrol the streets. This is the one major element that separates this show from others, such as “Cops”, “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol” (1993-1999), “Street Patrol” (2008-Present) and numerous others.

I don’t know why there has been a recent resurgence in reality police shows; perhaps it’s because they can be produced relatively cheap with no actors required. “Cops” ruled the airwaves with its unique look at our service officers for many years without much competition. Sure, some imitators had come onto the scene, but most were too similar to stand out. Enter the age of reality television. Now, cable channels have taken things a step further by giving these civil servants a face and a personality. Unlike the extremely brief introductions “Cops” provided viewers, “DEA: Detroit” gets up close and personal with the team members. I’d like to say it makes the show more enjoyable but, let’s face it, you aren’t watching a show about DEA agents to get to know them better; you’re watching it to see homes get raided and people with Tech-9’s square off against law enforcement. These guys are a rough-and-tumble bunch. They have a good time with each other and each one has a distinct personality, but when it’s time for action they hit hard and that’s what counts.

Six episodes are presented here. I had entertained the notion of providing a synopsis of them then I quickly realized they all would have read the same. The only difference between this show and the other similar programs is that “DEA: Detroit” focuses solely on, you guessed it, drugs. Every episode features the team taking down some low-level dealers, then trying to get them to “flip” so that they can nab the bigger fish above them, ad infinitum. The episodes don’t focus on one particular drug; it’s just one big bust after another. They each run for about 43 minutes, or you can choose to watch them all at once. Each disc contains 3 episodes.

I do have a couple of minor complaints about the presentation here, namely the language and the commercial bumpers. I don’t understand why they included the network-censored versions of the show. I don’t think it would have been so difficult to obtain the original language tracks from filming so that I don’t need to listen to 57 bleeps per episode. Also, I’m watching this show on DVD. There are no commercials, obviously, so why did they keep the bumpers in place? I don’t really care to know what’s coming up; I’m going to see it in 12 seconds. I’m going to chalk this up to pure laziness which, to be honest, I totally understand. I doubt Paramount (Spike’s parent company) expected this to sell extremely well, so why put any extra effort into something most fans won’t really make a big deal about.

Video

I expected very little here and was pleasantly surprised to see the show was shot on HD and is presented at an anamorphic aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The image is very clean, colors look spot-on and skin tones appear very natural. Considering Spike basically threw the show right onto DVD without much after-market thought, this one looks razor sharp. Night time scenes suffer from numerous issues, but those can easily be chalked up to the crew shooting with infrared and nighttime vision settings on their cameras. Lighting the team properly might have looked better, but I’m fairly certain it also would have ruined the element of surprise that is so crucial to doing their job.

Audio

Each episode is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and, for a cable TV show shot on location, it sounds very good. Nothing about the track is going to blow you away, but every door smash, gun cock, crackhead rambling and shout of “DEA!” is clear and audible.
There are no subtitles present on these episodes.

Extras

There is one lone extra presented on the first disc of the set, it's a full-length bonus episode of “Real Vice Cops: Uncut”, which runs for 22 minutes and 3 seconds. The show is similar in premise to "DEA: Detroit," so its inclusion here isn’t seen solely as a promotional piece. Sadly, though, it is presented in 1.78:1 letterbox widescreen. I think the least the studio could have done would be to have made it anamorphic, but considering it’s technically a bonus feature I shouldn’t have expected much.

Overall

I’m hesitant to recommend purchasing this on DVD, unless you’re one of those diehard police drama fans that can obsessively watch the same episodes over and over again. With so many other options on the airwaves, you’re just a couple of clicks away from something else in the same vein. There are probably a half dozen similar shows playing as you read this right now.

The Film: B- Video: B+ Audio: B Extras: D Overall: C+

 


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