On paper, Shades of Blue doesn’t seem like a great show. It’s not exactly reinventing the wheel with its worn-out premise and straightforward dialogue, but it’s still good enough to warrant your attention.
The pilot wastes no time (after a very short-lived and unnecessary in-media res opening) by introducing us to Harlee Santos (Jennifer Lopez!), an NYPD cop who is neck-deep in financial problems raising a teenage daughter on her own. It’s instantly clear that Harlee walks a thin line between good cop and crooked cop, helping a rookie detective cover up his accidental shooting within the first few minutes of the show. From there, things start going on a downward spiral for our heroine (anti-heroine?), especially when the FBI forces her to work for their anti-corruption task force, pitting Harlee against her long-time friend and dirty cop Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta) and his crew.
Whenever Adi Hasak’s script feels slightly clunky, Lopez’s spot-on performance immediately outshines and elevates the material. It helps that Lopez, who looks absolutely stunning, is almost literally in every single scene with director Barry Levinson making sure that the camera never stops focusing on her ravishing face (although the hairdos can get a bit distracting). But it’s Ray Liotta’s stellar performance that really captured my attention as he plays the menacing yet hard-to-hate villain quite impeccably. I’ve already seen the second episode, which further develops Matt and Harlee’s relationship, and it’s a better testament to Liotta’s performance as the multi-dimensional character.
The cast also includes Drea de Matteo and Warren Kole as Detective Tess Nazario and FBI agent Robert Stahl respectively, but they’re hard to care for so far because they either have nothing to do with the main plot (Tess) or are bland and uninteresting (Robert) even if the performances are once again solid.
The show doesn’t offer anything new or original, but it is at least thoroughly entertaining and heavily serialized (unlike most cop shows on the air that bore us with standalone weekly cases) and the pilot does produce several tense scenes (especially near the end) that guarantee I’ll be in for all 13 episodes.
It might not be must-see television, but Jennifer Lopez’s kickass performance, along with the show’s serialized premise, helps make this an intriguing and very watchable affair.