Dark Blue: The Complete First Season
by Jef Burnham
Available on DVD only from WBshop.com and TNT.tv.
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Dark Blue is a decent police drama, offering up much of the same material as any other American police series with the obligatory slight twist in presentation. Where Dark Blue stands out from other shows, however, is that it presents these average conflicts with less of the apathy for human suffering that mars shows such as CSI (which is fortunate since the CSIs and Dark Blue are both produced by Jerry Bruckheimer). As such, I would readily recommend Dark Blue over most other American cop shows.
The series follows a deep undercover unit of the LAPD headed by Carter Shaw (Dylan McDermott), whose assignment entails catching criminals at all cost. This means that many the methods he employs are of seriously questionable legality. Since their proximity to the criminal element thus blurs the line between right and wrong, Carter and his three subordinates are constantly at risk of becoming criminals themselves.
The pilot is plagued by a series of stupid one-liners, but the writers seemed to pare those down later in the series, and as I implied above, the individual episodes tread no new ground. The team members’ personal story arcs are uninteresting and though it grew on me over time, the series is, for the most part, admittedly only mindlessly, passively watchable. However, the series’ production value is very high and the acting is solid (McDermott is great as usual and it exciting to see Michael Biehn (The Terminator) as a guest star in one episode).
The only problem I have recommending the series is that there are so many great series from around the world available on DVD, that I would say spend your money on something like the complete series Life on Mars, which has also just been released, before buying Dark Blue, which is really just an above-average American police drama anyway. Perhaps this is why WB and TNT have decided to offer the show solely made-to-order, meaning DVDs will only be pressed once they’ve been purchased. And I think this was a very intelligent move on their part. Do note however that if you are planning to purchase these DVDs that there is a disclaimer on the WBshop page for Dark Blue about the picture not having been remastered. This is totally misleading and something they put on much of their made-to-order catalogue. It has been mastered from “the best-quality video master currently available,” and since the season aired in 2009, it was crafted for modern televisions in the first place. I personally viewed the DVDs upscaled on a 1080p television and the picture was phenomenal.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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