I wish I could have loved “Dark Blue,” I really do, but as I’ve learned over the many many years of television addiction, finding an entertaining show about police officers working against the conventions of the law is often about as fun as watching paint dry. “Dark Blue” truly tries for grit and edge but is often much too polished to buy such a pitch. TNT has pretty much banked on creating television series that are just branches off of more successful franchises and “Dark Blue” is a mix of “The Shield” with some “CSI” for good measure. While it does make its money on being a procedural, it also manages to have an actual arc to it.
The problem is that in spite of the strong cast and the often charismatic performance by Dylan McDermott, “Dark Blue” is just much too hokey and humdrum to be even remotely entertaining. “Dark Blue” tells the story of a covert police force that works under undercover, infiltrating mob rings and drug trafficking syndicates trying to figure out where their undercover officers failed in the first place. Much of “Dark Blue” consists of officers either explaining how their lives are centered around the job while the other half of the unit is trying to form an actual life in spite of their job.
The pilot involves Carter Shaw, a ringleader for this special unit who is trying to bring his team together in the first episode to figure out why one of their men absolutely failed in corrupting a crime ring. After a long and over the top torture sequence that sets the stage for a rather violent crime series, Carter gathers his troops again including Ty, an officer on sabbatical who is forced to go back in and reclaim this role as hardened criminal in spite of his wife’s best efforts to convince him it’s a bad idea. Omari Hardwick is pretty damn good as Ty, the officer with severe identity issues who becomes so involved with his work that he has a basically hard time getting back to normal life.
Carter has the potential to be an interesting character but often the writers are too concerned with portraying him as a walking cliche to actually offer up some depth. So he makes fun of cops for being cliches, spouts off horrific one-liners and watches in the shadows as his team goes to work, all the while never giving us any reason to like him beyond being Dylan McDermott from that law show. “Dark Blue” is a series too polished to be considered edgy, and too routine to be deep, it’s just constantly straddling the lines of procedural and crime drama to pick a direction. While not an awful show, it’s certainly mediocre and that’s never enough of a reason to follow a series in to the end of the season.