There was a certain amount of exasperation amongst the critics about Turner’s decision to offer up a panel for a show that’s already been on the air for a few weeks (“Dark Blue”) rather than one for an upcoming series that we’re all rather excited about (“Men of a Certain Age,” starring Ray Romano, Scott Bakula, and Andre Braugher), and to be fair, I was feeling it myself a little bit. I get that, when you’ve got a Jerry Bruckheimer production amongst your stable of shows, you want to be sure that you’re promoting it as much as possible, but…it’s already on the air. Worse, it was like pouring salt in the wound to show us a clip from “Men of a Certain Age” that piqued our interest even further about that series.
Oh, well. So be it.
If you haven’t caught “Dark Blue” yet…well, it only made its debut on July 15th, so it’s not too late to get onboard. I was so busy trying to get ready for the TCA tour that I never had a chance to write it up for Premium Hollywood, but here’s the trailer for the series, to give you an idea what it’s all about:
“Dark Blue” was created by Doug Jung, who had previously worked on “Big Love.” It’s a bit of a change of pace, obviously, but as he admitted, “You could say that about polygamy for everyone.”
Still, the two series have more in common than one might immediately think.
“As odd as it sounds, I think there are some interesting character things about this show that actually translate from something like ‘Big Love,'” said Jung. “When you’re dealing with characters who are hiding a lot, who are dealing with questions of identity and duality…those things actually kind of came in handy. You have characters on ‘Big Love’ who live their lives a lot with concealment, and in ‘Big Love,’ it’s a familial environment that requires a sense of secrecy, loyalties, shifting alliances, things like that. And that, I think, is really evident in the characters on ‘Dark Blue.’ We have a character who’s married and has to cover a lot of what it is they do. That’s something that was very much relatable from ‘Big Love’ to this. We have characters who work in close proximity. There’s a sort of geographical proximity that requires a certain amount of covering or half lies or truths and wondering about their impressions on other people. So those things actually were pretty prevalent in both projects.”
Dylan McDermott, who can comfortably be called the matinee star of the series, acknowledged that having the series call TNT home has resulted in more freedom than on, say, Bruckheimer’s usual turf of CBS. “I don’t think that you can make this show on network,” said McDermott. “You know, that’s the great thing about it: we do push the envelope, and we get to do things that you could never do on network. So that’s definitely why I’m on TNT and here. You have more freedom with language, more freedom with violence, more freedom with sexuality, all those things that are more real in life and are much more sanitized on network. We get to do all that stuff.”
“Specifically,” added executive producer Rick Eid, “you get to say ‘asshole’ twice and ‘shit’ once.”
Later, McDermott explained his reasons for using “Dark Blue” as his return to television. “I was initially attracted to the undercover world,” he said. “I think it’s a great backdrop for a television show in that you get to change characters. Maybe not every week, but every once in a while, you are a different character within a character. I thought it was a great way to go to work, so that initially attracted me. And I think cable is the place to be right now, particularly TNT. So the combination of TNT and Jerry and undercover and this amazing cast…? I was definitely in.”
In closing, I thought I’d offer up series co-creator Danny Cannon’s lengthy but illuminating explanation of how “Dark Blue” is decidedly different in tone from other Bruckheimer productions.
“After doing the “CSI”s and things like that, I was asked to think of a different approach,” said Cannon, “and that’s the great thing about Jerry, always pushing you to come up with something new. This was a bit more personal for me. It came from driving home and listening to music one day and saying, ‘If I were to approach a cop show, how would I do it?” It was too hard to do by myself, but luckily I got Doug to help me. I was into the idea of doing it Dickensian world, an undercover world that we don’t see. You know, we are in bed when that world comes to life. It’s the world down the dark alleyways and in that rooftop apartment that you can see from the street but wonder what’s in there. There’s many scouts in downtown Los Angeles.
“As a guy from London, I start to see downtown Los Angeles as our old London town, Dylan’s character is the Fagan character, and his artful dodgers, he sends out in harm’s way every day and puts them in very difficult, weird situations and manipulates them and just becomes their puppet master. All of the dark secrets that they have…every week, we will peel a layer off the onion and see that dark character.”