Picks and Pans Review: The Shield

updated 04/05/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/05/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

FX (Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET)

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Whether he's scrambling to conceal the corruption of his strike force or terrorizing a hooker into turning against her pimp, volatile detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) is still the main focus of this power-packed police drama. But the supporting characters continue to develop in interesting and surprising ways as the third season unfolds.

Detective Claudette Wyms (Emmy-worthy CCH Pounder), while retaining her fierce integrity, realizes she'll have to play politics to obtain the promotion she deserves. Officer Julien Lowe (Michael Jace), a victim of gay-bashing last season, tries to establish his manliness by roughing up suspects. "Dutch" Wagenbach (Jay Karnes), the most cerebral detective in this gritty L.A. district, may be letting his intellectual superiority go to his head. And the dangerous stupidity of detective Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins) could be Vic's biggest worry of all.

This daring series seems guilty of shock for its own sake in the April 6 episode, which finds one of the characters unspeakably violated. But once The Shield grabs you, it's awfully hard to turn away.

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