SOUTHLAND picked up by TNT.

It is official: TNT has picked up SOUTHLAND. After weeks of speculation, the cabler has purchased the 13 episode second season of the canceled NBC crime drama.

In SOUTHLAND, John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz – A River Runs Through It) is a veteran cop assigned to train young rookie Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie – The O.C.). Cooper attacks his job with a no-nonsense firmness that sometimes leaves Sherman wondering if he’s really cut out to be a cop.

The series also follows Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King – Ray, Jerry Maguire), who spends her off-work hours serving as her mother’s primary caregiver. Her partner, Detective Russell Clarke (Tom Everett Scott – Boiler Room), is a father struggling with an unhappy marriage. Detective Daniel “Sal” Salinger (Michael McGrady – The Thin Red Line) oversees a unit of gang detectives, including Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro – Drive, Ugly Betty) and Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy – Alpha Dog). And patrol officer Chickie Brown (Arija Bareikis – Crossing Jordan) is a single mom determined to make her mark as the first woman in the SWAT unit.

“This is a great win for fans of SOUTHLAND and a perfect opportunity to introduce the series to new viewers,” said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks. “It’s also another outstanding example of how TNT has established itself as the go-to place for the best dramas on television.”

Can’t say that I disagree. In the last five years, TNT has slowly built up a fairly strong roster of dramas: THE CLOSER, SAVING GRACE, LEVERAGE, DARK BLUE, HAWTHORNE, RAISING THE BAR and MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE. In addition to picking up SOUTHLAND, they recently ok’d pilot for RIZZOLI, a series based on the novels of Tess Gerritsen, and DELTA BLUE.

While NBC appears to be abandoning drama, TNT is quickly taking it’s place.

The plan is to introduce TNT viewers to the series by starting with season one. SOUTHLAND will start on Tuesday, Jan 12th at 10 p.m. EST. As J.F. Pierce points out, it will be opposite Jay Leno, the show that likely played a part in NBC dropping it.