“Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer” should have set off the red flags, but I was too wrapped up in the hopes that Dark Blue would be an adequate replacement for The Shield. It’s time I learned that few shows will ever match the psychosis and utter brilliance behind the morally grey world of The Shield. Breaking Bad is coming close, and Brotherhood was right there before it was selfishly taken away from us at the end of its third season. But for all intents and purposes, The Shield has spoiled me on just about all dramas involving morally-conflicted anti-heroes, and Dark Blue never had a chance.
For starters, it looks to be yet another boring procedural where cases miraculously get solved in the span of an hour. Actually, taking into account commercials, these cops solve their problems in 44 minutes flat. Perhaps these caper-solving geniuses should run the country; we’d be in and out of Iraq quicker than the average Joe can get up to make a sandwich during a Budweiser commercial.
I know, I know… You take these shows for what they are, but this formula is beyond tired. Is it too much to ask to grab the viewer and force he/she to invest some brain power into a seasonal arc? Must we be spoonfed a conflict and resolution all in one episode?
For all of its flaws, Dark Blue had one scene that threw me for a loop, and that’s only because it involved an actor from an early Friday The 13th film.
The pilot episode follows Carter Shaw, played by a miscast Dylan McDermott as one of those cops who wears big shades and dresses like he slept in a tub full of Jim Beam the night before. He runs an elite undercover unit that is so secretive, they don’t even have offices. Makes you wonder who they report to. For that matter, are they really cops, or just wayward vigilantes? This show doesn’t answer that question, but it does partake in the usual cop show banter where conflicted detectives say things like “I see everything that needs to be fixed” and subsequently fix them in time so the next program can air in its allotted time slot.
So, Carter fears that, after the torture of an FBI agent, one of his undercover operatives may have turned, so he enlists the help of an old friend and a beat cop to reinfiltrate the target to get a fix on the operatives’ motives. Meanwhile, two FBI agents continue to tail Carter, and they speak in the usual FBI speak, FYI.
This is all very good if you have a short attention span, but how about a show where we examine the psychosis of someone who’s been undercover for so long, they’ve lost sight of themselves? That would make for an interesting drama. Instead, Dark Blue ends with a gun fight in one of those warehouses that seems to be exclusively rented by mafia dons. And so we wait for next week for these crack commandos to solve another case in time for us to shut the TV off and forget what we just watched.
Unfortunately, I am obligated to stick this season out to see if it gets any better or worse, but I do it so you don’t have to.
Joseph Henson is a screenwriter and movie critic. He has written for Primetime Pulse in the past, covering the final season of The Shield. In addition, he owns/operates the horror-themed website, The Bodycount Continues.