In a TV slump? Let’s play catch up with Shades of Blue, Lucifer and Billions reviews.

NEW SHOW SPOTLIGHTS

Shades of Blue

Every year there are a few “surprise” names that come up attached to new TV projects with stars who haven’t done TV in a while like Ted Danson on CSI and Lady Gaga on American Horror Story.

This year, NBC went all in with Shades of Blue, hoping that the highly touted show could rely on the big name draw appeal of Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta to attract viewers to its familiar undercover police corruption story.  In fact, the show’s already been picked up for a second season.

Sadly, however, you can’t believe the hype.  Lopez doesn’t seem up to the challenge of portraying a tough, street-wise, New York police officer.  I never really bought that whole “Jenny from the block” persona and I don’t now.  Only now it actually matters because Lopez is trying to portray a single mom New York police detective and it doesn’t work.

While there are a few good supporting turns, especially Liotta, this only highlights the contrast.  If Drea De Matteo can do it, why can’t Lopez?  I have no idea.  Nor can I fathom why Lopez’ Bronx roots can’t produce a more realistic sounding New York accent, but I swear she sounds like she’s doing her Rosie Ruiz impression half the time.

It doesn’t help that the show is somewhat short on plot, and the story itself comes across as a weak, much less clever, serialized rendition of The Departed or Donnie Brasco.

Still, even “not good enough” passes for success at NBC these days, and perhaps the show can make itself more compelling while it still has an audience watching.  I just won’t be part of it.

If you liked Dark Blue or Graceland, you might like Shades of Blue.

Lucifer

You might not think Fox’s Lucifer fits into an article about police shows, but this is the rare case of a show that runs from its clever and promising premise – the Devil is tired of Hell so he quits and takes up residence in Los Angeles – and instead runs to safe territory.  As a result, Lucifer passes up the chance to be either a wickedly funny morality play or a genuine occult thriller (the type of show that Constantine was supposed to be) and instead settles for being a rather humdrum police procedural.  One of many I might add.

Sadly, that also ends the utility of discussing this forgettable show.  Lucifer (Tom Ellis) uses his supernatural predilections to occasionally help solve crimes for the 0LA police detective (Lauren German) with whom he is smitten.  The novelty of this wears off 20 minutes into episode #2, and from there the show quickly devolves into a “case of the week” with occasional hints about why Lucifer is wandering around LA.  There’s not nearly enough mystery in this to hold attention, just like Lucifer’s fling with a police shrink (Rachael Harris) isn’t even close to as funny as the writers seem to think it is.  Yeah, we get it.  He’s an irresistible bad boy (yawn).

If you like Sleepy Hollow or Constantine, you’ll think this show isn’t as good as those (yes, even Constantine).

Billions

Finally, I can offer my recommendation that you skip Showtime’s Billions, a show that has received some good reviews, and which undeniably has the talent (Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti) to succeed, but which treads on ground I find particularly distasteful.  Billions purports to give us a look inside the world of high powered Wall Street dealing, but it instead immediately gives in to the temptation to lionize its subjects, and has the bad taste to buy into the one-percenter creed that these are all the smartest guys in the room.

As a result, Billions misses the mark by a mile (in a similar way, Madoff created a far too cuddly version of Bernie Madoff right up until the final 10 minutes of screen time).  These manipulative characterizations can work if the subject matter isn’t quite so close to home.  Instead, telling me the guys who crashed the world’s economy and then got to keep their mansions and bonuses are actually just sympathetic renegades like Breaking Bad’s Walter White makes me want to put a brick through my television.  Sell that crap somewhere else.

If you liked Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Revenge you might like Billions.

TV’s a big place and I haven’t been to all of it yet.  Got a favorite show you’d like me to comment on?  Post a comment below, contact me on twitter @RobLazlo. or shoot me an email:  [email protected]  I welcome your input!