FX Builds on Buzz to Herald Return of Hit Series

Its season premiere is three months away, but FX is already stoking the fire surrounding its hit drama, The Shield.

A TV campaign breaking this week trumpets the program’s second season, which begins Jan. 7. Created in-house by the cable network, the effort includes black-and-white TV spots directed by Albert Watson, a photographer known for his stark celebrity portraits. The ads seek to capture the essence of each character on the show, beginning with rogue cop Vic Mackey, played by Michael Chiklis.

The spots use tight close-ups and dramatic lighting on the characters as a soundtrack plays memorable dialog from the show’s first season. Each ad ends with a new line written by series creator Sean Ryan that foreshadows that character’s role in the new season.

The ads will run through year’s end on FX and other Fox networks. They may also run on other cable networks through barter arrangements.

The 30-second spot shows Mackey in his trademark leather jacket moving cautiously through a dark space and pointing his service re-volver with both hands. Lines from last season include a description of him as “Al Capone with a badge.”

Watson, whose work has ap-peared on the covers of more than 200 magazines, said he was originally retained to shoot stills for The Shield. “The head of marketing said to me, ‘It’s a shame you don’t do TV spots,’ ” he said. “And I told him that I most certainly do do TV spots.”

Watson, who has directed commercials for Toyota, AT&T and Dockers, filmed three Mackey spots and four others.

Chris Carlisle, evp of marketing and promotions for FX Networks, said scenes from the new season could not be used since filming is ongoing. Asked why he did not use an ad agency, Carlisle said, “Be-cause no one knows our show better than us.”