You have to feel a little bad for Shades of Blue. The pilot was likely shot almost a year ago and the concept created even further back. The show was picked up by NBC in the spring and slated for a midseason premiere that has been promoted heavily. And this is all par for the course. The business of making TV is not a fast one.
But they had no way of know that in the weeks leading up to this premiere a little Netflix docu-series called Making a Murderer would sweep the nation and ignite passions all across the internet about our broken justice system that protects crooked cops. Which means, a show about a crew of dirty cops might not have the same appeal its creators were hoping for when they dreamed it up however long ago.
Ill timing isn’t the only mark against Shades of Blue, however. It pains me to say this because I have longed for a time when TV’s obsession with anti-heroes would apply to women as well as men, but the protagonist of the show, Harlee Santos (Jennifer Lopez) simply isn’t likeable. In the entire pilot we were never given any reason to care that this woman is torn between a “family” of bad cops and informing to the FBI to protect her daughter.
On the other hand, her boss, Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta), the focus of the FBI investigation and an all around not nice dude, received far better shading (excuse the pun). Harlee could rattle off all the exposition in the world about how her crew protected schools from violence and drugs, but Woz made you believe that mission statement without a single word.
But I don’t want to imply that this imbalance between the characters is any reflection of Lopez’s talents. She has proven in many films that she could carry this kind of narrative. The trouble comes in the writing. Harlee simply isn’t given enough room in this pilot to take the character anywhere. This episode is all about setting up the situation. Now that it is, maybe she can be given something to do that would endear her to the audience. Just a thought.
Final Verdict: Worth at least another watch for the soundtrack. And then a few more watches after that for Ray Liotta.
*Shades of Blues airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.
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