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TV Review - Dark Blue

There are a few things all cop dramas must have:

1. A weird lighting setup; heavy on the dark tones, low on ambient light

2. A renegade officer who doesn’t play by the rules but cares more about the job than anything else

3. One-liners that probably look great on paper but sound ridiculous when actually uttered by real actors

4. Undercover officers dressed like too-cool Abercrombie models

I can only assume the writers were forced by TNT brass to include this criterion before they went about making a half decent show. Carter Shaw is the renegade cop. He utters most of the one-liners. He and his cronies (and bad guys alike) dress like they came out of a seedy J-Crew catalogue. And whatever, the lighting is weird.

Shaw runs a deep, deep, deep cover unit in Los Angeles and according to him, “No one knows about us.” (by the way these teams always have a sweet, loft-like, cathedral-esque headquarters that probably rents at like 10,000 a month. I forgot to add that as an addendum to the cop drama pre-req list) They are as covert as covert gets and operate so far off the grid the FBI has trouble keeping tabs on them. Shaw is also worried one of his own is so far undercover that he may have flipped to the dark side.

Look, after watching The Wire and The Shield and even Southland to a certain degree, it is tough for other police dramas to live up to any realistic expectations. Here I mean that it would be difficult for other shows to be as realistic. But once I suspended that part of my brain, and got past the first ten, cliché- ridden minutes, I actually enjoyed Dark Blue. I am not a huge fan of primarily standalone dramas, which Dark Blue appears to be. But I can enjoy shows that are fast-paced, have an element of intrigue and include generally relatable characters. Dark Blue. plays on many media driven ideas about police officers but also focuses on the perceived difficulty, temptation and pain associated with working undercover. It also included a storyline that had me wanting a resolution rather than checking how minutes were left. Bottom line: the show is entertaining.

The key for Dark Blue is the second episode. If it sustains the “dark” aspects of each character and their personal and professional struggles then the show can be a success. If they create some long term enemies instead of week-to- week busts then we might have something here. But if Dark Blue downcycles into ridiculous premises, overuses obvious one-liners and generally creates a feeling of “been there, done that” then the show is doomed to fail. It’s pretty much that simple. God, I should be a television writer.

Dark Blue premieres Wednesday, July 15, at 9 and 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on TNT.

Doug Norrie

Doug began writing for CinemaBlend back when Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles actually existed. Since then he's been writing This Rotten Week, predicting RottenTomatoes scores for movies you don't even remember for the better part of a decade. He can be found re-watching The Office for the infinity time.