Television

Revenge drives new season of 'The Shield'

The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT)

Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but it's piping hot this season for "The "Shield"`s Vic Mackey.

Michael Chiklis' renegade detective vows to snuff the killer of "Lem" Lemansky, one of his own. One small hitch: He doesn't know that the killer is one of his own, too.

Yet.

The acclaimed "Shield," FX's first original drama, launches its sixth season April 3. Ten episodes are scheduled.

"The guy's seeing red. He wants blood, that's all there is to it," says Emmy winner Chiklis, 43. "He's obsessed, completely and utterly driven. This season is very much about revenge."

In last season's cliffhanger, Detective Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins) tossed a grenade into the car of fellow Strike Team member Lemansky (Kenny Johnson) after handing him a sandwich.

Vendrell was convinced that "Lemonhead" was going to turn state's evidence and testify against the team's sordid history of murder, torture and theft.

"He justifies it by thinking it's what Vic would have done; what needed to be done, but he's wrong," Chiklis says. "It's going to tear holes in (Vic). He comes completely unhinged."

Equally unhinged: creepy internal-affairs cop Jon Kavanaugh, whose goal in life is to destroy Mackey. Played by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland"), Kavanaugh seems even more obsessed than Mackey.

Kavanaugh "is still crazed with nailing me," says Chiklis, who has not yet seen last year's "Scotland.

As with Mackey, "when you become crazed or obsessed with anything, it makes you sloppy and you make mistakes," Chiklis says. "You do things you wouldn't do under normal circumstances."

Introduced last season as a regular, Kavanaugh will appear in only a few episodes this season. He makes one more play against Mackey, "with shocking results," according to FX.

Among the new faces: Aussie hottie Alex O'Loughlin, 29, son of AC/DC front man Bonn Scott, who will join Mackey's Strike Team as Det. Kevin Hiatt.

Unbeknownst to Mackey, Hiatt has been brought in as his replacement. It doesn't take Mackey long to connect the dots.

"Being Wile E. Coyote, Vic wants to get along with him," Chiklis says. "Initially, they do get along quite well, but that deteriorates. When you (mess) with the bull, you get the horns."

Since the suits can't force out Mackey any other way, they try to make the 41-year-old cop take early retirement.

"There's something very Al Capone about it," says Chiklis, referring to the infamous mobster's eventual conviction on tax evasion charges.

"Vic doesn't want to retire. What's he going to do with himself? He's not the retiring type. He doesn't cotton to being forced out of anything. He wants to go out on his own terms."

"Shield" wrapped Season 6 in July. Production on the seventh, and final, season begins in June. The beginning of the end "will be bittersweet," Chiklis says.

"We all agreed, from the beginning, that we never wanted the show to get long in the tooth or lose its aggressive nature. I've never felt that it has."

___

In what has become a real ping-pong battle, Charlie Gibson's "ABC World News" nipped NBC to return to first place in the A.C. Nielsen derby last week.

"World News" had 8.64 million total viewers, compared with 8.32 million for Brian Williams' "NBC Nightly News." Katie Couric's "CBS Evening News" had 6.76 million. It was Gibson's fourth win in six weeks and ABC's largest gap over NBC since August `05.

Among target 25-to-54-year-old viewers, however, NBC beat ABC by more than 100,000 viewers for its 22d victory in that category in 26 weeks.


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