Dark Blue (TNT)
Premiered July 15 at 10pm
TNT’s latest offering is a dark, gritty, undercover cop drama, and it tries really, really hard to make sure you know it. Dylan McDermott is uber-serious as a mysterious, hardened cop who runs a special, off-the-books unit. In his first moments on screen, it’s made painfully clear that McDermott’s Carter Shaw is a disgruntled, humorless guy who can handle any situation and will chew out anyone who can’t. If he weren’t so busy trying to prove how bad-ass he was and uttering lines like “I haven’t seen 7am since 1992,” he might be a more compelling character. It’s implied that he has a troubled past, but now he’s the coolest thing since Michael Clayton. His team includes a dedicated husband desperate not to go undercover and a rookie female with a criminal past, as well as one operative who may be in too deep. Logan Marshall-Green is the familiar face who plays the undercover cop, and he displays the same forced lack of emotion as he did on “24” and “The O.C.” That’s not all – there are also two hapless investigators hot on Carter’s trail and determined to uncover his true identity. McDermott’s anger doesn’t inspire much believability in his character. The lines are incredibly trite – “Your own backyard is the Wild West!” and “Well, isn’t it the Federal Bureau of Intimidation?” The music is dark and dramatic, but it’s mostly just to convey and beat to death the notion that Carter should be considered a fearsome legend. Instead, he’s just a grumpy guy whose operations work more because of his crew and sheer luck than anything he puts into it. To top it off, the villains are exceptionally cartoonish. The entire pilot is a cliché from start to finish, and like its TNT Wednesday partner “Leverage,” it just doesn’t offer much in the way of pulling the audience in. There’s nothing to recommend it or to differentiate from any generic cop show, which is all the more regrettable because it’s supposed to be so bold, daring, and, well, dark. Unfortunately, it’s just not.
How will it work as a series? It seems like they’ll be going undercover on a different mission each episode, which could become tiresome but could also mean that a certain episode is better than a previous one. It feels like it could become a more violent, crime-fueled version of “The Cleaner” with a bit of a more frantic pace. That could work, and “Dark Blue” is similar to the show that airs before it, “Leverage.”
How long will it last? TNT is very kind to their big earners, like “The Closer,” “Raising the Bar,” and “Saving Grace,” and if this show achieves ratings success, it could be quickly welcomed into the fold. I don’t think the promotion was very good for this series, however, and I think it will simply manage to finish out the current season and then fade into oblivion.
Pilot grade: D