The cast of Southland
Fans of the axed drama Southland can quit writing NBC hate mail and start drafting their thank-you notes to TNT. The cable network has picked up the L.A. cop series and will air the original seven plus six never-before-seen episodes starting January 12. If you've already seen the pilot, there's good reason to tune in for TNT's re-airing: The producers have added six and a half minutes to the original 42-minute run. "There are a couple of wholly new scenes that were cut out of the pilot for time constraints," says executive producer Chris Chulack. "But a lot of [the new material] is continuations of things that were truncated, and it's amazing that six and a half minutes rounds it out and makes it feel more like a little movie."

The original news of the show's cancellation came as a shock to the cast and crew—"We went through the five stages of grief," star Michael Cudlitz says—but these days they're counting their blessings. "Everything that I've experienced from the TNT side of it is that they get the show perhaps a little better than the other network ever did," Cudlitz says. "We're just excited to move forward and to make the show we've always wanted to make."

And that show is a gritty, honest look at what it means to be a cop in America's second-biggest city. Ben McKenzie, who stars as rookie officer Ben Sherman, says the greatest joy of his job is exploring what makes his character tick and dispelling any policemen stereotypes. "You are free to make your character whoever you want him to be, because there is no 'cop person.' That person doesn't exist," he says. "They might be a little bit more of the mind-set of law and order and there should be rules that people need to follow—that's what attracted them to being a cop in the first place—but they are every shade of color, they are every ethnicity, every sex. They really have entirely separate individual personalities. It's like asking, 'What's a postman like?'"