In “U-Boat,” the “Southland” episode airing Tuesday, March 16, on TNT, rookie LAPD Officer Ben Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie) heads out alone in a patrol car for the first time.
“It’s spelled ‘U-Boat,'” McKenzie tells Zap2it, “but it’s thought of as ‘You-Boat.’ It gets pretty hairy. I encounter a lot of stuff. I actually think it’s one of our strongest episodes all the way around, but mainly I think it’s great because it’s a lot of me.
“It has a lot of great themes, has some very strong arcs for my character, for Michael’s character and Regina’s character. I think it’s one of our best.”
Michael is Michael Cudlitz, who plays Sherman’s training officer, John Cooper; and Regina is Regina King, who plays Detective Lydia Adams (and is also in the new movie “Our Family Wedding”).
Recently, a gossip Website circulated rumors that fans wanted Sherman and Adams to have a relationship, but McKenzie doesn’t give that a lot of credence.
“There are a couple of people who are angling for that to happen,” McKenzie says. “Patrol officers don’t necessarily have a lot of contact with detectives. There’s not a lot of natural overlap. That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a detective in a relationship with a patrol officer.
“As much as I kid around [about it], I don’t think that’s where the show’s going. I’d be happy to go there. Regina’s fantastic, and she’s gorgeous, but I don’t think that’s where they’re trying to take the show. It’s just something to write about.”
Although the Cooper character is gay, there are no plans for romance between him and Sherman either, but that doesn’t stop the actors from having a telephone bromance of their own.
“Cudlitz and I end up talking,” McKenzie says, “if not every day, multiple times a week. He’s pretty into the show, as am I, so we talk about what’s going on and what we can do to promote it, interactions with fans. I talk to him a lot.
“If [the show] went away, it would be sad that I wouldn’t see him.”
McKenzie and several of the other key cast members are under contract and need to be notified by June if TNT plans to produce new episodes of “Southland” (it’s currently airing ones that were produced by Warner Bros. for NBC, but didn’t air on the network).
“I think they would like to let us know sooner rather than later,” says McKenzie. “They’d like to do right by the cast, but they need to see the first, I would say, three [new] episodes’ worth of ratings, so they know it’s at least holding steady or not, at a particular number.
“So, I’m hopeful that we’ll know one way or another by the end of March.”
Although the 10 p.m. ET slot has once again opened up for scripted shows on NBC, McKenzie is happy right where he is.
“To be honest with you,” McKenzie says, “if we go forward into new seasons on TNT, TNT will be a better home for us than NBC was, because the content of the show doesn’t jibe with what NBC’s trying to do. They’re not trying to make this kind of show.”
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