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Undercover and Over the Top: A Brief Review of TNT's "Dark Blue"

I was going to write an entire review for TNT's new undercover cop drama Dark Blue, which launches tonight at 10 pm ET/PT, but I just couldn't muster up any enthusiasm for what manages to be an oppressively dreary and hopelessly formulaic take on undercover cops operating in the seediest of seedy underbellies in Los Angeles.

Created by Doug Jung (Big Love), directed by Danny Cannon (CSI), and executive produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Dark Blue stars Dylan McDermott (Big Shots), Omari Hardwick (Saved), Logan Marshall-Green (Traveler), and Nicki Aycox (Supernatural) as members of a special undercover police task force committed to ridding Los Angeles of violent criminal scum.

McDermott is the team's haunted linchpin Carter Shaw, a relentlessly determined cop who is prone to wearing aviator sunglasses and making pronouncements like, "This better be good; I haven’t seen 7 a.m. since 1992," just to show how doggedly put off he is by his bumbling supervisors who can't manage to rein in Shaw's maverick methods, even when they may have led to an undercover cop turning to the dark side.

And what a dark side it is. I had to wait until nightfall to watch the series as each and every scene seems to be overflowing with darkness as the cinematographer seems to have fallen in love with the sepulchral blue tones of bruises and oxidized blood. Which might be fitting, given the grittiness of the Dark Blue's plot but it doesn't make for very interesting viewing when every scene looks exactly the same as the one before.

The one interesting element of Dark Blue is what a wild card actor Logan Marshall-Green has become. As deep undercover officer Dean Bendis, Marshall-Green is virtually unrecognizable and he gives the underwhelming and cliched pilot episode its few moments of frisson as we see a cop treading that thin line between being undercover and actually crossing over to criminality. His on-screen presence adds a much needed energy to the proceedings and he quickly outshines McDermott, who seems lusterless and tired here.

All in all, Dark Blue covers some of the same gritty territory as A&E's short-lived undercover cop series The Beast, which starred Patrick Swayze. For a network that promises that they know drama, TNT certainly didn't bring their A-game here with Dark Blue and one can only hope that their next drama series effort results in something more original and less derivative.

Dark Blue airs tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on TNT.


susie que said…
Wow. I can't believe that someone who worked on Big Love (one of the most brilliant dramas ever on TV) could come up with this schlock. The Henrickson clan would be disappointed.
Tempest said…
So, do you think we could get TNT to dump this and pick up The Unusuals instead?
Anonymous said…
It wasn't the greatest, but i think that's cause its the pilot episode. Most pilots are kinda slow to get started. I liked the online game that launched with the show...something about going undercover.

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