Shades of Blue
Aired on: NBC
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When NBC started showing promos of a new crime drama called Shades of Blue, it caught my eye. The show stars Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta as dirty cops with Jennifer Lopez's character set up as a snitch to take down Liotta's "organization." I've enjoyed Liotta's acting in the past, but wondered about Lopez. She has great comedic timing, but I have found her dramatic works to be lacking. That being said, the story was intriguing enough to make me head over to NBC on January 7, 2015 at 10pm EST to check out the premiere episode.
The first episode begins with action right away. NYPD Detective Harlee Santos (Jennifer Lopez) and her new partner Michael (Dayo Okeniyi) are about to roust a drug dealer who has been dealing toxic drugs in the neighborhood. Harlee spots a little girl playing with a scooter in the hallway and, believing that things could get ugly, she redirects the child back to her apartment. While Harlee is distracted, Michael, hearing gunshots in the apartment, identifies himself, kicks the door in and fires shots of his own. A second dealer races out of the window before Harlee can get to him, but, more importantly, Michael's dealer is dead...and the only "weapon" he is holding is a video game controller.
When Harlee starts to doctor the scene to protect the rookie, we realize just what kind of cop we are dealing with. We soon learn that Harlee does other things with members of her department that would not be considered on the up and up. Her boss, Lt. Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta), has his detectives collecting protection money from local establishments. They keep drug dealers away from schools and playgrounds by turning a blind eye while they ply their trade elsewhere. And if the dealers don't follow the rules, they find themselves in deadly trouble once Wozniak hears about it.
Harlee is fine with what she and the other cops in Wozniak's unit are doing. She's a single mother trying to make the best life she can for the most important person in her life - her daughter (Sarah Jeffery). When a meeting with a bookie who Wozniak wants in his pay to play network turns into an FBI arrest, Harlee must chose between the partners she's worked with for years and the opportunity to continue life as she knows it with her daughter. FBI Agent Robert Stahl (Warren Kole) wants Harlee to work with the FBI anti-corruption task force to take down her boss and his crew. If she doesn't, she goes to jail, but if she does, she destroys people she has grown to care about...and puts herself and her child in grave danger.
While we feel just a little remorse for Harlee and her plight, we remind ourselves that, though a likeable character, Harlee is a corrupt cop. Despite her reasons for doing what she does with Wozniak and the crew, the fact still remains that she is breaking the law to provide her daughter with a better life...when a decent life without so many extras would suffice. We all want better lives for our children, but crossing that line could actually end up putting that life in jeopardy as Harlee Santos soon discovers. Still, we end up rooting for her character...as long as she says yes to her less than likeable FBI handler.
I'm not a huge fan of Jennifer Lopez's dramatic films. I happen to think she has excellent comedic timing and has made quite a few enjoyable comedies, but her dramatic roles usually lack something. This time, J-Lo has nailed it. You can actually believe she is a cop and that she loves her daughter to the point that she makes bad decisions to create what she believes is the kind of life her daughter needs to be a success. And of course, she brings a sexy to her role that will make many come back for more. After all of his mafia roles, Ray Liotta knows how to play the thug with a heart of gold when it comes to his family. He is perfect in the role of Wozniak and plays well off of Lopez's character. Warren Kole plays that guy you love to hate and we get the distinct impression that he likes his newly acquired informant in a way that is less than professional.
Overall, I really enjoyed the first episode of Shades of Blue and, while I don't think it has an incredibly long shelf life (unless you take it in a direction in which we see different actors and a different "shade of blue" each season), I will definitely enjoy watching the show until its conclusion.