Michael Chiklis is terrific as Mackey. He portrays the first main character of a show I’ve ever seen that keeps you off balance as far as being the “good guy” or the “bad guy.” Sure, he’s a scumbag in some ways, but he’s dealing with other scumbags so the temptation is to let him slide. The very first episode is still the best as far as the confusion over loving or hating the guy — all the “by the book” cops finally turn to him when they need a quick answer from a suspect to find a missing child. Mackey literally beats it out of the guy with a phone book.
The problem is the plot never ventures to far from being about Mackey side-stepping his own bosses. For a while there were some decent side stories involving other characters. Julien and Dutch had plenty of personal character issues that just sort of dropped. I almost think we get too much of Aceveda being a sicko, but it helps keep Mackey likeable since Aceveda’s his main adversary. Of course, the six month gaps every season don’t help things either.
With NYPD Blue ending last season, cop show fans can’t ask for more than The Shield.