By Stephen Compall
Jul 09, 2010 07:53 PM EST

Dark Blue: The Complete First Season DVD Review

Dark Blue: The Complete First Season DVD Review
Purchase  DVD | Digital HD
It seems that TNT, too, wants in on the game: the age of anything as simple and straightforward as Law & Order seems to be coming to a close, just in time for flailing NBC's cancellation of its police procedural flagship. Now, a cop show needs either a quirky outsider to join the straight-man police in their investigations, a la Castle and The Mentalist, or "grit" in the form of moral ambiguity, courtesy of The Shield, The Wire, and their ilk.

In this mentality, the pilot episode of TNT's foray into homegrown cop shows, Dark Blue, is no surprise. Be not shocked when team leader Carter Shaw (Dylan McDermott, In the Line of Fire, The Practice) is a terribly troubled insomniac who considers the idea of a life outside his secret line-walking police force a distant memory. Marvel not when undercover agent Dean Bendis (Logan Marshall-Green, Brooklyn's Finest, Across the Universe) appears to betray his unit, turns out not to have, but still kept secrets from his fellow officers. What's this, you say new team member Jaimie Allen (Nicki Aycox, Over There, Supernatural) has a dark, criminal past?

The mindless adherence to cliche in the setup of the characters would be maddening, were the execution of the series as a whole not so expert, or the directions of the plots so surprising. It is no simple matter of merely pushing the characters a little farther to get a little more "grit" out of them. Ty Curtis's (Omari Hardwick, Kick-Ass, The A-Team) conflicts with his boss, wife, and conscience are elevated above the norm by subtle portrayal. A brief fling between two characters begins in the obvious way, yet takes the characters to places you will not expect.

However, the most memorable element of the show is surely the criminals themselves. In a television landscape of vast criminal conspiracies, psychopaths, and genius serial killers, Dark Blue seems bent on putting the banality of evil on center stage. The criminals here are not terribly clever; they are mindlessly cruel, and the handicap of evidentiary requirements keeps the onus on our heroes to be clever. It is a careful balance, and a wonderful change from the usual "least incompetent wins" rule of television conflict.   

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