“LAPD Lt. Carter Shaw and his special undercover task force understand that to collar criminals, one must first get on their level. They also know that going undercover may require cutting ties with those who mean the most. Adrift, isolated, and frequently faced with situations that strain the line between right or wrong, these officers know that all that matters is loyalty to each other and to the task at hand: bringing down the bad guys.”
That pretty much sums up the best part of what makes Dark Blue such a compelling series. Fresh from the minds of Jerry Bruckheimer and Danny Cannon who brought us the CSI shows, it’s a much darker series that gives us the most intense look at undercover work I’ve seen on television. In fact, I almost wish this were an HBO show, because it’s clear that the series already pushes even TNT’s boundaries, and I’d like to see the handcuffs come off the show’s creative team, not the bad guys.
Carter is played by Private Practice lead attorney Dylan McDermott. It’s easy to see why he was attracted to the role. This is the kind of dark acting that he never saw on his previous shows. He’s a cop with a rather dark past who has lost his family due to divorce. He runs an off-the-books undercover unit that has a lot more freedom than normal cops have. The Constitution is more a suggestion than a real guideline to this unit. Sounds a lot like the Obama administration, except these cops get the job done. The team also includes Logan Marshall-Green as Dean, the primary undercover man on the unit. He’s the kind of guy that has a hard time finding the line between being one of the good guys and one of the bad guys. He’s a Donnie Brasco kind of undercover cop. In the first couple of minutes of the pilot, we discover he’s helping some thugs dump an FBI agent after torturing him, leaving him for dead. Fortunately for the good guys, he finds a way to stay just that hair’s breadth on the good guys’ side. Next is newlywed Ty Curtis played by Omari Hardwick. Ty is also a great undercover officer with a flair for improvisation. His weakness is his desire for a more normal family life with his brand-new attractive wife, who wants a baby. Nicki Aycox plays the newbie on the team, Jaimie. Yes, that’s Meg the demon from Supernatural. She has an even darker past than Carter, which he exploits in order to get her to do things she might not feel comfortable about. New to the crew in the second season is Tricia Helfer as FBI Agent Alex Rice. She takes over the team as it becomes a joint FBI/NYPD task force. That means higher-profile crooks and a bigger undercover budget. She’s also a love interest for Carter. Yes, that’s sexy Number Six from the Galactica revival series. There’s a ton of tension between these characters and a moral ambiguity here that keeps the show riveting. In the end they all share a strong bond of loyalty that becomes abundantly clear in the season’s final episode.
In the end, this quality series never did get quite the ratings to allow TNT to keep the show running. Those ratings did not even qualify the series for a standard DVD release. Thankfully, you can now get both seasons from the Warner Archive Collection. The cases are exciting and they beat the cookie-cutter cases of most cop drama shows. You know the kind: “Going undercover to catch a zucchini thief.”
Order DARK BLUE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON on DVD now on the WBshop.com: Warner Archive