Dark Blue, Season One (2009)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Officially, Dark Blue has never been released to DVD. Instead TNT offered a DV-R set on their site and eventually other retailers like Amazon picked it up – I was “first in line” to order a copy because I had been anxious to see it ever since its premiere. But what does Dark Blue have to offer that the next top-rated cop drama doesn’t already have?

Deep cover requires the best detectives in the department… and some of the strongest minds -- a mind that, if ones not careful can fill with the thoughts and actions that might make one think they are invincible. Lt. Carter Shaw (Dylan McDermott) has hand-picked each of his detectives. Come to find out, the feds somehow play into Carter’s latest operation -- the take-down of a rough and hardcore gang ring distributing drugs. FBI is on the case after one of their own was found beaten and near death, apparently a drop by the same gang. Viewing surveillance footage, Carter recognizes a face – one of his own, Dean Bendis (Logan Marshall-Green), the rebel of his team. When cover is deep, the operative is cut off from the world, no communication, lest their identity be compromised. Fearing that Dean has switched loyalties after attempting to pull him from the operation during a covert meeting, Carter brings in another player, Ty Curtis (Omari Hardwick). A newlywed, Ty’s wife, Melissa is troubled by his line of work and doesn’t want to see him while he is undercover, let alone see him leave after a mere five months together…

Knowing that the two of them cannot single-handedly bring down the ruthless gang, Carter recruits Jamie Allen (Nicki Aycox), a patrol cop who has fabricated a past that allowed her into the academy. Needing a person who can lie without blinking and make it convincing, Carter pulls her into his elite few to make the bust. Setbacks hurt their case but a big break leads them right back to the top where they take the steps to insure their case. For a show that received inconsequential commendations and even slimmer ratings, it is actually one of the best cop dramas to have seen completion. Unfortunately for the show, during its timid second season, it was cancelled meaning that a mere twenty episodes – in total is likely all fans will ever see of this team. There are a variety of reasons why I so liked this show…

First impressions immediately set up a concept that this is going to be much different than most of Dark Blue’s counterparts. Cumulating during the first three shows the writer reveal a strict pattern. Each takes the hour to pick out a team member – minus Carter, and dedicates that case around one of the characters. (The pilot isn’t just a pilot, it’s about Dean.) To some of us, this might seem unimportant, to others interested in the characters, this is golden. I fit in the latter category and liked getting to know the protagonists on a deeper, less formal level while seeing the entire team gel for what is an exhilarating journey. Rather than writing characters that are immediately “likable” – all American good guys, the actors and writers explore their conscious on a number of investigations.

Normally we really want to like the main people and not to misunderstand, this elite group is all likable… but they aren’t “perfect,” nor are they depicted as happy-go-lucky innocents. They are messed up with any number of human flaws that in some cases are really shameful. Such a past can be a trip up, even as the characters endeavor to wipe them clean and start afresh. In wrestling so much of the time with their conscious, writers placed many temptations in their paths, whether it be money or some other lure, they are all here. Nearly all their troubles are of their own making but then I can accept these many flaws because of the deep undercover work they are forced to undertake if they want to keep in this line of work… and remain alive. Jamie and Dean aren’t your ideal cops because they have histories, more so Jamie. And Carter actually elects sympathy many times. His team is very “hard” on him because of his sometimes unethical methods. Emmy-Winning McDermott is a very capable actor who does a bang up job as Carter; his leader is just moderate enough but yet is as hard-nosed as the criminals he is trying to protect L.A. from, because when you work undercover, you cannot take anything for granted. Ty is perhaps the most morally sound of the group.

I may be the only one, but I am sorry at TNT’s decision to cancel this. It was intelligent, well-written and seemed a unique premise in a genre where competition is difficult. The characters are engaging but hints of mystery keep you engrossed in their lives post work and in some cases pre-career. Carter is a strong leader not unlike many other television favorites; Dean is a rebel; Ty is the all-around good guy and Jamie… she is a mystery who can be hard to like because of her immoral, rash decisions -- choices that once led to tragedy.

Dark Blue is one of Jerry Bruckheimer’s best, something that makes it all the worse to see disappear.

(Tense scenes involve shootings resulting in injuries or deaths. Implications suggest various sexual relationships. Profanity isn’t overflowing in every episode. Kidnappings, drug rings and gangs become plots. Forced to take drugs while maintaining cover, Jamie gets high once.)

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