From the beginning, DARK BLUE — debuting tonight at 10 p.m. E.T. on TNT — lives up to it’s title: The opening sequence features extreme torture (or what FOX talking heads would insist on calling “enhanced interrogation techniques”) and is awash in azure tones, and things never really lighten up in any regard during the rest of the hour. In true anti-hero style, our lead, Carter Shaw (Dylan McDermott), is a mess both physically and emotionally, cooked up by someone with a fondness for popular stereotypes: He is a tortured soul who offers redemption to those around him when not squinting and clutching his head to show us the pain he’s attempting to suppress. The pain of his past has, of course, impacted how he views the world around him. As he explains to a would-be recruit, “I see everything that needs to be fixed.”
McDermott is basically playing a rougher version of his most famous alter ego, THE PRACTICE’s Bobby Donnell. Like Bobby (and way too many other current TV characters), Carter appears to be a man who is struggling against his baser instincts.
Even the basic concept — off-the-radar cops who specialize in undercover work — comes complete with the foreshadowing dialogue you’d expect. There’s much talk of cops who’ve spent too much time undercover confusing their faux and real lives. As Carter says toward the end of the premiere, “There’s going under, and then there’s stepping over.”
In other words, you’ve seen this show before, just with a different name and other actors.
Which is not to say that DARK BLUE is a bad show, just… one that will leave you with a vague sense of familiarity, rather like when you pick up a book and halfway through realize that you read it a decade ago and it’s simply been re-released with a new cover. And in a summer full of reruns and reality, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The production is solid, the acting top-notch and the actual storyline more complicated than the many CSI-type procedurals cluttering the television landscape. In fact, this show sort of proves that TNT’s “We Know Drama” campaign is on the money. They do, in fact, know drama… just not particularly original drama.