Dramas TV

Review: Live PD

Genre: Reality, Documentary, Crime
Rating: TV-14
It may not be very geeky — there are no spaceships or wizards — Live PD has quickly become a national phenomenon, showing what cops face all across our country with very little editing. The show follows multiple departments in several states, both rural and urban, and all sorts of calls are featured.

Content Guide

Spiritual content: Very little; while some of the officers and deputies they follow are Christian — I remember one deputy telling a DUI suspect to lean his head back and look up at those beautiful stars God made during a field sobriety test — overall there is pretty much no discussion of spirituality.
Violence: Quite a lot. Suspects who resist may be involved in physical fights. Tasers are common, as are firearms. Shots are rarely fired, but it does happen.
Language/crude humor: Most of the profanity is bleeped out, but some make it through anyway, such as S***. Crude humor is occasionally attempted by suspects.
Sexual content: Cops are involved in dealing with prostitutes and other sexual crimes, occasionally “adult toys” are discovered while searching a person, vehicle, or residence.
Drug/alcohol use: Drunk and high suspects are among the most common encountered.
Other negative themes: Numerous references to pretty much every crime in the book, from speeding to homicide.
Positive Content: With all of the above, you might be thinking this show is nothing but negative. But those things are just what the men and women who pin a badge on their shirt every night have to deal with. The true stars of the show, the officers and deputies are shown doing what they are called to do: Help protect innocent civilians not only by dealing with lawbreakers, but also responding to accidents and medical calls. Sometimes the cop is the first one on the scene and needs to take immediate action to save a life.


“America, this is your ride-along.” Those are the words that introduced the nation to what has become a TV phenomenon. At a time when there’s been a very vigorous debate about policing in our country, Live PD (or LivePD) shows what cops see on a nightly basis on a near-live basis; there is a delay built in so they can bleep certain words or quickly switch away from overly disturbing scenes such as accidents involving children or scenes that may be too gruesome for a “regular” cable channel. During the show, commentary is provided by legal and police experts from a studio in A&E’s New York headquarters.
The departments followed vary; at the beginning there were six, but they have since increased to eight. Only one of the original departments is still being shown, that being Richland County (around Columbia) SC. Some departments have dropped out, and new ones have joined. This map shows both past (blue dots) and current (red dots) departments.


Live PD shows us near-live coverage of actual officers (for brevity’s sake, I’ll be referring to police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and state troopers all as “officers”) during some of their busiest times: Friday and Saturday nights. During the show, they switch back to the studio and occasionally the control room for commentary and updates from analysts.
The main host is Dan Abrams, who is also the chief legal affairs analyst for ABC News, pictured standing on the left in this photo. The permanent analyst is Tom Morris, Jr., who is a crime reporter and has been a Washington, DC police officer. He is seated on the right in the photo. The third man in the center is Sgt. Sean “Sticks” Larkin of the Tulsa, OK Police Department. Originally one of the officers followed by Live PD, he became such a fan favorite he was brought in as a semi-permanent analyst and stayed even after the Tulsa PD dropped their association with Live PD. Occasionally they give Sticks a weekend off and bring in another officer (or sometimes two) who’s become a fan favorite on Live PD. Together, these three give an analysis of what just happened, explaining terms that may not be familiar to most viewers and discussing why the officers did what they did.
In order to fill times when nothing TV-worthy is happening live, A&E will show pre-recorded and edited events from the departments they cover, with a note in a corner of the screen indicating it happened earlier. They also take advantage of slow moments to show three special types of segments, each with Tom Morris handling the narration. The first is their “Crime of the Week,” typically featuring body or dash cam footage of a notable police event in a department they don’t ride with. The second is a “Wanted” segment where they feature a person police are seeking urgently, generally for a serious crime; these come both from departments they ride with and those they don’t. The third and arguably the most important is the “Missing” segment, where they partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to highlight a case of a missing child. NCMEC Media Director Angeline Hartman is shown via video giving the details of the case. Both the Wanted and Missing segments have had success in finding the people in question, and those are announced on later shows.
Live PD has developed a huge Twitter following who have taken the name “Live PD Nation” and who have started “watch parties” where groups of people will gather at a designated place to watch the show together. Recently, some departments are beginning to sponsor their own watch parties as well, which also serve as community outreach. The fans on Twitter have even helped officers with some of the cases shown live, usually in the form of spotting something thrown or dropped by fleeing suspects the pursuing officer didn’t notice — probably because they were focusing on catching the suspect! The word goes out Twitter and either the department itself sees it (I believe all of the currently featured departments have Twitter accounts), or one of the people in the studio will see the tweet and relay the information to the department. Another instance of Live PD Nation coming to the assistance of officers happened recently when a pickup with a, shall we say, distinctive rear window decal was found abandoned in the snow after an apparent slide into a pole. People in the area recognized the pickup on TV and informed the department where they could find the owner.
Live PD has also spawned several spinoffs: The first one was called Live PD: Rewind which is an hour of the best parts of an episode. Later, they added Live PD: Police Patrol, which features incidents previously shown live with a short commentary from the officer(s) involved afterward. On the Lifetime network, there’s a show called Live PD Presents: Women on Patrol focusing on pre-recorded clips of female law enforcement officers, some of which are from departments not shown live on the main show. Finally, the most recent spinoff is Live PD Presents: PD Cam, hosted by Sean “Sticks” Larkin, which showcases dash, body, and sometimes helicopter camera footage from departments also not usually shown on Live PD.
One thing many fans complain about is the bane of American TV: Commercial breaks. While we understand A&E needs to pay the bills to keep the cameras running, sometimes they pick times during high excitement moments to go to the ads. Perhaps someday some company will offer to sponsor the show with minimal or no commercial breaks as long as their name is mentioned often.
Though much of the coverage is definitely what you might call “gritty,” there are a few bright spots. One that comes to mind is when Richland deputy Kevin Lawrence pulled over a couple of college kids and found drugs in the car. Engaging one of the suspects in conversation, he asked the young man if he could make it onto the Dean’s List that semester. The young man said he could if he worked hard at it. Kevin then made a once-in-a-lifetime deal with the suspect: If he could make it on the Dean’s List, Kevin would drop all the charges. I’ll let Kevin explain what happened himself from his Twitter account:

In summary, I believe Live PD is doing a lot to help inform the debate on policing in America. Rather than short, edited clips, we get to see a lot more of the story and the background, often beginning to follow the action when the officer is still in the car on the way to the call. We get to see what both sides were saying and doing long before it’s all over for good or ill. This is not to say every officer in America is a saint; there are people in every profession who really shouldn’t be in it, and law enforcement is no different. What Live PD is doing, however, is highlighting the good that peace officers in America do every day and night, from pulling victims from accidents where the car is starting to burn, to administering Narcan to overdosing victims, to getting stray animals back home. And yes, arresting the bad guys so they can’t hurt innocent people. Whether or not you’re a supporter of law enforcement, watching even one episode of Live PD is almost certain to be educational. You might just find it fun to ride along with cops and wonder, along with the rest of us, what’s going to happen next.

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Reviews Sci-fi/Fantasy TV

Review: Faceoff – Season 8

faceoffDirector(s): Michael Agbabian, Dwight D. Smith, Derek Atherton
Writer: N/A
Composer: N/A
Starring: Glenn Hetrick, McKenzie Westmore, Ve Neill
Distributor: Mission Control Media; Syfy
Genre: Reality
Rating: NR
Syfy’s Face Off is the reality television show that every cosplay-loving geek should be watching. (Actually, it’s the only reality show anyone should be watching, but we’ll leave my disdain for the genre out of it.) Since season 8 has just wrapped up, it’s time to relive the season and find out who else is a fan.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with Face Off, here’s the basic format: 1) The contestants journey to a mysterious location where they receive a challenge to create a specific type of character 2) There is a day of brainstorming and then contestants start work on the makeup concept 3) There is a final, panicked day to finish the concept, which ends in the judging and someone’s being eliminated.
Episode 1 – Return of the Champions

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This season is slightly different from past seasons in that there are 3 “champions” that return to coach the contestants. After an initial challenge to get a little preview of each contestant’s skills, the winners of seasons 2, 4, and 5 pick their teams and the competition begins. The first challenge is to create an alien race that has crash-landed on a planet. The contestants begin working in three teams and the episode ends with a twist where no one is eliminated.
Episode 2 – Monkey Business

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Continuing where episode 1 left off, the contestants have discovered that their aliens actually landed on the Planet of the Apes and they will need to create a third look for the judging panel. Of course, this causes some minor panic and a lot of extra work. There is finally a judging panel and the best and worst makeups are chosen and critiqued before someone is sent home.
Episode 3 – Let the Games Begin

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This week’s challenge yields some pretty interesting makeups as the contestants have to merge a plant and animal into one unique creature. In teams of two, they work to create a design that is both believable and frightening with varying levels of success. The judge’s panel features Josh Hutcherson as a special guest and another contestant is sent home.
Episode 4 – Royal Flush

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The contestants finally get to work on their own and show the judges what they’re capable of in this episode. They learn that they will be creating a Tim Burton-esque figure based on a deck of cards. Each contestant draws a card and then creates the Jack, King, or Queen that was drawn. Without a partner to help with weaker skills, it quickly becomes apparent who will struggle and who will shine. In the end, someone must go home and the judges aren’t really known for being forgiving.
Episode 5 – Sounding Off

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This challenge is really cool. Most of the time, the contestants are given pretty definite guidelines regarding the makeup they create, but in this episode they are simply given a sound. Working in teams again, each pair is given an original sound and challenged to create the creature that they imagine embodies it. While most of the makeups are pretty cool, there are also a couple that leave everyone underwhelmed, and the judges don’t seem to have any trouble deciding who to eliminate at the end.
Episode 6 – Troll Bridge

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In another individual challenge, the contestants each choose a bridge and begin to design a troll to live under it. This is the first time in the season that the champion’s advice can really be felt, as one of them gives his entire team some really bad advice. His misinterpretation of the challenge leaves the judges pretty unhappy with the concept of his entire team, and, in the end, one of them has to leave the show after being eliminated.
Episode 7 – Queen Bees
This episode is probably the low point for the entire series. Consisting solely of body painting, the contestants are given two models, both nude, and tasked with doing a full body paint in order to transform them into insects. Unfortunately, most of the artists are unfamiliar with body paint, and the challenge is pretty flat, ending with only one noteworthy result. The judges are just as disappointed and seem to choose who to eliminate without too much trouble.
Episode 8 – Dressed To Kill

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In this challenge, the contestants are tasked with creating a new monster that could fit into the world of Clive Barker. There’s always a twist of some kind, so they also have to incorporate a designer’s avant garde design into their creations. Several of the contestants struggle with the overall concept of this task, and there are some pretty lame creations to go along with at least two amazing makeups. At the elimination, it is much harder for the judges to determine the winner than it is to choose who should be eliminated.
Episode 9 – Miss Intergalactic

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Beauty pageants are fairly boring unless you’re doing it Face Off-style. Each contestant is given a galaxy, along with its pertinent details, and asked to design a creature for the Miss Intergalactic pageant. This episode starts out sounding uninteresting, but the amazing talent of the contestants results in a great runway show. Almost everyone creates a strong makeup, and even the judge’s choice for elimination creates something unique and interesting.
Episode 10 – Super Selfies

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Who doesn’t want to be a superhero? This week’s challenge has the contestants turning themselves into heroes with the added challenge of having to apply prosthetics and makeup to themselves. Considering the scope of some of the costumes and makeups, this is no easy feat. With the creations ranging from anime-ish to scary aliens, most of them are strong and the judges are very happy with the results. The contestant to be eliminated is pretty clear throughout the last half of the episode, and the judges have no trouble deciding who to send home.
Episode 11 – Imaginary Friends

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In what is traditionally the challenge that everyone hates, this week the artists are paired with a child and told to create whatever their imaginations can conjure up. The children come up with a wide array of creatures, including a three-headed monster, a zombie breakdancer, and a diamond princess. The challenge of pleasing the child and the judges is too much for some contestants. This is also the first episode where I completely disagreed with the judge’s decision of who should be sent home.
Episode 12 – Deadly Dolls

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With only 5 contestants left, the challenge this week is to create a doll that could terrify the masses. A ventriloquist’s dummy, a porcelain doll, or just a plain baby doll–they are all creepy, and the amount of work the contestants are capable of in a short two days continues to amaze me. In the end, I could not decide who had the best creation, but the judges seemed to have no trouble. They also seemed pretty clear on who to eliminate, but I disagreed once again.
Episode 13 – Full Steam Ahead

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For the contestants, this is the last chance to show the judges what they can do before the choice is made about who will be in the finale. What better way to do that than with one of the genres that is judge Glenn Hetrick’s specialty? In this challenge, all four contestants are given a stock western character to which they will add a steampunk twist. All four of the artists create something memorable, and it seems that there is a lot of discussion among the judges regarding who to send home. Unfortunately, someone does have to leave, and only the three finalists are left.
Episode 14 – The Dream Team
For the finale, each contestant is challenged to create four unique characters which willd fit into the film genre they have chosen. Fortunately, even the judges know the contestants would need help, and all of the previous cast members are brought back and divided into teams to help them with their creations.


Team Emily is up first, and their post-apocalyptic genre sets the stage for some great designs. In a play on The Wizard of Oz, Emily and her team create four, diverse makeups that were amazingly detailed. What makes her designs even more amazing is the fact that Emily is only 18-years-old and she has had almost no training. Considering that she has already surpassed so many people in the industry, she is sure to do some amazing things in the future!


Team Logan shows his designs next and is given sci-fi as the genre for their characters. Envisioning a spaceship, The Moreau, full of experimental animal hybrids, Logan and his team are able to create four characters that are harmonious, yet distinctly different.


Team Darla is the last to present designs to the judges and audience with the genre of fantasy. Darla’s concept of four elemental spirits is exceptional, and the beauty of the air spirit and the earth spirit is undeniable. Darla’s attention to minute details makes her designs truly spectacular.
In the end, a winner is chosen and the champion who helped coach that person to victory now holds the title of the first-ever two-time champion.

Content Warning

Language – All language is bleeped out except for the word h***. When used, h*** always refers to the actual place in context and is not used as a curse.
Sexual Content – There is one episode where the models are nude, but all sensitive areas are blurred out or covered by camera angles. Sometimes the female models where a bikini-type outfit when getting fitted into their makeup and costume.
Violent Images – There is no actual violence, but several of the challenges feature designs that are suitable for horror movies. Some designs also incorporate blood and could be disturbing for some viewers.


Since Face Off is a contest-based reality show, it’s pretty much a case of “what you see is what you get.” What really makes this show special, in my opinion, is that it celebrates each of the contestants and allows them an opportunity to showcase their talent.
Where most reality television thrives on drama, conflict, and betrayal, Face Off features a cast that is encouraging and helpful. It may be a competition, but the contestants are often seen offering advice and instruction to each other. It’s refreshing to see a group of people who want to see each other succeed, even as they are each trying to come out on top.
This atmosphere of encouragement is especially evident with the judges. They never hesitate to tell the contestants where they fell short in their designs, but the criticism is usually accompanied by advice and an acknowledgement of the design aspects that were successful. Even after choosing the eliminated contestant, the judges always offer parting words of encouragement, and they make a point to mention the successes that the contestant had while on the show.
Another great thing about this show is that it is almost completely family-friendly. The one episode that has nudity makes sure that all sensitive material is completely covered and most of the camera angles make sure that the models are hidden behind strategic objects. When the cameras can’t provide full cover-ups, all pertinent areas are blurred out Sims-style to maintain full coverage.
While covering up any nudity, the editors also cover up any language that people let slip. With the exception of a single word (h***), all language is bleeped out and even that only happens a handful of times within the 14 episode season. In the instances that h*** is used, it is actually in context and referring to the place, rather than being used as an expletive.


The bottom line is that this is an awesome show. Whether you create your own costumes or just like looking at the creativity of others, Face Off offers a weekly dose of cosplay fun that usually blows all other costuming out of the water. While season 8 may be over, season 9 starts on July 28th.

Are you a fan of Face Off? What are some of your favorite past looks? Let us know in the comments!

*All photos courtesy of