Brooklyn detective Harlee Santos (Jennifer Lopez) does it all. She wields a gun, busts the baddies, works long hours as a single mother, and even gets to make out with Dean Geyer.
But she’s also one of several cops who bends the rules when it’s necessary to protect the community in the new US drama Shades of Blue.
Santos is part of a “dirty crew” hand-picked by Lieutenant Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta) who may be bent but with apparent good reason -at least they are sill stamping out the drug dealers and the crims.
In the opening scene she covers for a rookie who accidentally shot a crim, to protect him from Internal Affairs.
“I always wanted to be a good cop — but there’s no straight line to that,” she explains.
“But now that I’m at the end I can’t justify anything.”
Wozniak runs his crew with a tough and secretive dictatorship, but it is put in peril when FBI handler, Special Agent Stahl (Warren Kole), catches Santos taking a bribe. Now he wants her to turn informant against her boss or she’ll face charges. With a teen daughter (Sarah Jeffery) to care for, Santos finds herself with little choice but work against Wozniak under his very nose. It’s a simple but effective premise, if rather derivative of others in the genre.
What makes it work so well is the commitment from Jennifer Lopez, partnered with Ray Liotta. Rather than a stock-standard drama with the star as hero cop, writer Adi Hasak, creates a flawed lead character yet one for which we can still find sympathy. Working somewhere between the good cop / bad cop lines allows for character drama above and beyond the procedural elements driven by the supporting players. I was less convinced about the Get Smart-like surveillance camera she wore.
Lopez and Liotta find good chemistry together, which is amplified when he discovers a rat amongst his crew, without knowing who is double-crossing him. Warren Kole as FBI Agent Stahl affords Santos no way out, whilst managing to show a particular interest in the attractive cop -he’s that kinda guy.
Of the supporting players, Dayo Okeniyi, Vincent Laresca, Hampton Fluker, Sarah Jeffery and Santino Fontana it is ex-Sopranos star Drea de Matteo who is the most interesting.
Having Director Barry Levinson for the first two episodes is also noteworthy, in the project that counts both Lopez and Ryan Seacrest as executive producers -looks like something else worthwhile emerged from American Idol aside from rising pop stars.
Without particularly reinventing the wheel, Shades of Blue manages to prove it is accomplished at steering it as an entertaining hour, and reminding us of the versatility of Jenny from the block.
Shades of Blue premieres 8:30pm Tuesday on Universal.