One episode was provided prior to broadcast.
I am pro-Jennifer Lopez, despite what the next couple hundred words may make you think. I think she’s a good, occasionally great actress who gets saddled with subpar material so commonly that it seems comical. She can rise to the occasion and make otherwise pedestrian movies pop (Enough, Maid in Manhattan, and yeah, I’ll admit it, The Boy Next Door), but such a task is far beyond the hands of a mere mortal in regards to NBC’s new back-alley crime drama Shades of Blue. Even a mortal from the block.
This time Lopez plays a feisty NYPD detective, Harlee Santos, a cog in a very dirty branch of the city’s police department, headed up by lieutenant Bill Wozniak (Ray Liotta). They’re dirty, but the good kind of dirty – planting evidence and taking bribes all in the name of drug-free youth and “clean” streets so, you know, it’s cool. She’s saddled with showing the reigns to newbie Michael Loman (Dayo Okeniyi) and eventually covering for him once the green cop messes up a routine investigation with a fatal gun shot. That opening sequence becomes the premiere’s first domino fall, and it attempts to set up Harlee as a wily badass (whoa she shot her partner with no pretense! Crazy!), but it’s somewhat ho-hum in the grand scheme of things.
That scene especially pales in comparison to the amount of information we learn about the personalities in the precinct, a rotary of rough-and-tumble street thugs-cum-police officers who unfortunately look like the reject casting room for a Martin Scorsese movie. It’s a harsh, shadowy world that tries to be built around harsh, shadowy characters but it all just comes off as oppressively dull. The stakes are constantly being reiterated and raised, but nothing is really ever more at risk than someone’s – gasp – reputation.
It’s a lack of follow-through that may be most at fault from creator and showrunner Adi Hasak, whose previous screenplays (From Paris With Love and 3 Days To Kill) tackled well-trodden subject matter with the nuance of a freight train. Shades of Blue has that same problem: it’s a detective procedural with overarching throughlines cutting into an ordinary case-of-the-week structure. Kids are disappointed at their overworked parent’s lack of punctuality, meet-cutes in bars get act-two twists someone cooking dinner in the next room could predict, and the protagonist’s inevitable tumble with the enemy gets troubling shades of
blue grey when she has to straddle two different worlds.