Hollywood, CA — As cop shows go “Southland” is dramatic, moving and hardcore, but that’s what you expect from this type of program. But what makes this drama stand out is the fact that it’s about the underbelly of Los Angeles and the street crimes we’re all too familiar with. And in some indirect way we’ll get an inside look at how Los Angeles police handle those devastating crimes, along with the sacrifices some officers make. It’s one of those dramas that is close to home and very believable making it worth watching.

Another reason to tune in and watch “Southland” is Regina King (“This Christmas,” “Ray”) who is starring as Detective Lydia Adams. Her character lives with and is the primary caregiver of her mother, she’s very astute, takes no crap, but has a kind heart.

King is one of those actresses that has an audience appeal that can only be described as “it,” you know, she’s an “it” woman. Whatever “it” is, the camera and audiences of all ages and races just love her. Be it comedy, teen dramas, musicals, or action films King’s performances add balance and texture to every role she performs. She’s starred in films with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, i.e. Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Sandra Bullock, Hillary Duff, Reese Witherspoon just to name a few. She’s appeared in a recurring role on Fox’s highly acclaimed “24,” and you can hear her voice on the “Boondocks” animated series.

King is one of those childhood actresses many television viewers grew up with. She starred as Brenda Jenkins the daughter of Marla Gibbs (Mary Jenkins) in the hilarious comedy “227.” The series ran from 1985 until 1990.

It’s good to see King in this drama for more than one reason. “Southland” is from the producers of “ER” and they say their cop drama is an authentic look at a police unit in Los Angeles. At first look you see King is the only Black in a featured role dominated by White males. There is another female lead played by Arija Bareikis as Chickie. Often teased by her fellow male officers, she keeps her cool because she intends to become the first woman on SWAT.

The “Southland” premiere centers around a gang shooting of an innocent kid who didn’t bang, a missing young girl, and a variety of other mishaps faced by police officers on a daily basis. We’re introduced to Ben a rookie in training played by Ben McKenzie (“The O.C.”); he seems like a gentle soul partnered with John, played by Michael Cudlitz (“A River Runs through It”). John is a veteran cop who’s seen it all, he tells his trainee while on patrol that their job is “like driving through a sewer in a glass bottom boat.” And indeed the rookie looses his lunch sadly on a routine call and is forced into a showdown, all on his first day out.

Detective Adams (King) finds herself looking for a missing young girl. One minute she’s playing ball in the front of her home, the next minute she’s gone. The neighbors are more than helpful, and Detective Adams, being very thorough recognizes that things don’t add up. She also understands that she has a small window where she can retrieve the girl, hopefully alive. King handles the role beautifully. She’s incredibly believable and yes, you got it, tough and likeable.

“Southland” will no doubt touch upon many of the heartbreaking crimes that have plagued L.A. for some time. Because the show takes us into the private lives of these officers we’ll more than likely see what makes them or breaks them when they are out in the field. No doubt, when it comes to crime and criminals, they have a dirty job…but somebody’s got to do it.

“Southland” premieres Thurs., April 9 on NBC and if you want to learn more about “Southland” or see the premiere show in its entirety now, visit their web site at www.nbc.com/southland/ where you’ll find a variety of information and special features you can get involved in.

– Gail can be reached at gailchoice@strictlyhollywood.com.