Light Blue

august 15, 2009



I have watched all five episodes of TNT's new show Dark Blue and I am just about to remove its recording timer from the DVR.  One more episode and it will be gone if they do not do anything different.

Dark Blue stars Dylan McDermott ("The Practice") as a very serious guy.  He talks like a TV show character ("This better be good. I haven’t seen 7 a.m. since 1992.")  He is the leader of an ultra-secret deep undercover team that the LAPD chooses not to acknowledge.  His team gets things done by going deep into criminal organizations and working the cases from "inside out".  His team consists of himself and three other very serious people.  And that is one of the downsides of the show:  Everyone is always so serious, come on people, lighten up when you are not in undercover.  Why so serious?

There are other serious problems with the show.  The biggest being that for a show that is about cops going deep undercover, the show is pretty shallow.  The issue here is that each episode is self-contained.  That would be great if this was a half-hour comedy, but not so good for a show that is about cops going in "deep".

This leaves each show feeling rather shallow -- and the template for each show is "cop in peril" rather than infiltrating criminal organizations.  I tire of watching the team instantly get into a criminal organization, large or small, with the all-to-familiar "just use your old identity" excuse.  I tire of seeing one of the teammates in peril and the others coming to save them.  This has been the template for the last five episodes and I doubt it will change next week.

I would suggest to the producers, writers and directors:  Instead of keeping each episode self-contained, use the season to build up a larger story arc.  Show how the cops work the criminals and get into their organizations.  Show the perils of developing an undercover identity and how this affects the cop's personal life. Show what kind of moral choices a cop has to make in order to develop his criminal identity. Show how one case is built from beginning to end -- and using this one case for the whole season to build up to something grand.

The show is shot in that CSI "this is produced by Bruckheimer" way.  Each shot is framed to perfection and the lighting is spot on.  The lighting is also so artificial that you feel like you're looking at a comic book:  Each shot is colored with a single color.  Orange.  Blue.  Red.  Green.  At first it is pretty stunning.  After five episodes, it is really old.

The "cop in peril" thing works and if this were a show about regular cops, it would be pretty engaging.  But, because of the stated premise and the repeated use of the "cop in peril" device, it is old and boring now.  Sure, this is a summer show meant to be pulpy and enjoyed with no frills.  But, it seems that no one has told the shows writers, producers or actors.

One more episode.  Then, the show is gone from the DVR.