The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Television Collision: Dark Blue Is Easy to See Through

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageIf there is a genre in television that is almost as overdone as medical shows, it is cop shows. So why TV executives still think it is a good idea to greenlight more and more cop shows is beyond me, but they do and most of the time we suffer the consequences.

Forensic doctors are complaining about the effect CSI has had on how people see the job forensics do. All of the sudden there is a huge increase in people studying forensics and all that pertains to it, without them ever realizing that they won’t actually get to go out and interrogate people. They will spend their days in a lab, examining samples from crime scenes they have never actually been to and running countless tests for results that will only mean something to the head investigator anyway, if that.

More traditional cop shows have had the same “pseudo-educational” effect on audiences though, meaning that by now it is very hard to slip anything by the viewer, because by now everyone thinks they know how police work works. And this is exactly where TNT’s new cop drama Dark Blue falters.

Only three episodes in the formula is already starting to bore me. Supposedly there is this undercover cop unit that doesn’t officially exist and they take down big time drug dealers, weapon dealers and Mafiosi. Yeah, riiiight. Like anyone buys that anymore, a unit within the police force no one knows about… Once they make an arrest, everybody knows about them. They have to file reports just like everyone else if they want their cases to go to trial, but let’s just overlook this tidbit to get to the greater flaws in Dark Blue.

So even if we want to believe they are an undercover unit no one knows about, they still suck at undercover! Maybe I have been watching too much The Wire, but to me it is crystal clear that a cop posing as a hardcore gangster deep into the drug business should not leave a meeting with his drug-dealing business partners in a club and then drive home to his wife! I mean, come on, these high-level criminals they are trying to catch are careful nowadays. They know as well as anyone else how easy it is to snap a picture of them during a deal with a cell phone these days, so of course they follow the new guy they are thinking about doing business with to see if his story checks out! You can’t just walk into a hotel through the front door and sneak out the back to get some nookie with your wife and think they won’t notice! Nice job, moron! How exactly did you not get yourself killed in all the undercover missions you supposedly did before that your boss so conveniently mentioned in the exposition?


We’re so deeply undercover, we walk through tunnels.

I could try to buy this undercover business more if the formula of the show didn’t have the cops chasing a new big bad guy every week. If the show took its time and really chronicled all the work that goes into a deep cover just to take down one guy, i.e. weeks and weeks of hanging with the crooks and so on, then maybe I could believe this unit actually worked. But instead they make an arrest every week on the show. I suppose they are basing all of this on the premise that criminals don’t talk to each other? I mean, if word gets around that the business partners of a certain guy always end up busted, then I would think no one would want to deal with him anymore. Or they’d just kill him, gangsters are hardcore like that. (Seriously, hasn’t Jerry Bruckheimer, who is exec producer of Dark Blue, ever watched The Wire??? Gangsters get killed for all kinds of small shit. Definitely for getting business partners arrested!)

To drive my point home, every episode features a scene in which the Big Time Gang Leader questions the integrity of New Guy aka Cop Undercover. Even to the point of taking New Guy hostage and threatening to kill him if the deal doesn’t go through. And yet every time New Guy is able to convince Big Time Gang Leader because he is “such a good liar” or because his cop buddies “come through for him”. Are you yawning yet???

It doesn’t help the show that the characters of the cops are mere stereotypes. We have Dylan McDermott as the grumpy, rebellious unit leader Lt. Carter Shaw, who does the usual arguing with his superiors to protect his crew and is hell-bent on arresting the biggest crooks in town, no matter what it costs. This overly typical characterization isn’t helped by the fact that every time I see McDermott I think David Schwimmer, i.e. Ross on Friends. There goes all credibility Shaw ever had to me as a cop.

On his crew he has the rebellious youngster, who always breaks the rules, but is just damn good at “the game”, the guy who is getting tired of all that undercover work and just wants to be with his wife and the new girl; for eye candy, of course.


Why does he want me in his cool unit?

The problem is though that with exactly this New Girl the show shoots itself in the foot again. She is supposed to be all mysterious and dark, yet her secret is already revealed in Episode Three: she invented a new personality to be on the police force, because she used to be a junkie in trouble with the law. Carter knows this and thinks this will make her an excellent addition to his lackluster undercover unit, “because she is so good at lying”. Of course in actuality her character screams disaster, which plays out in the same episode with her getting an informant killed. But what does Carter say? “This wasn’t your fault. You did a good job.” Yeah, riiiiight. Can you get any more trite?
(Also, and this is a mean point, but if you wanted the new girl to be eye candy, maybe you shouldn’t have cast an actress with an upper lip botoxed to immobility!)

Anyway, you can tell by this rant that Dark Blue is a misfire with cream on top. The past has proven though that I don’t always have the best eye for “what people like”. I look for quality writing on TV, but maybe all people want is another mind-numbing cop show where people get shot and Ross from Friends argues with his superiors.



Recommended Collisions with your Television

(combine at will, all times EST, only new programming listed)


Tuesday, August 4th
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Wednesday, August 5th
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Thursday, August 6th  
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Saturday, August 8th
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Monday, August 10th
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 10: 30 p.m.
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