There are some cop shows that I will watch and others I will not. It is not necessarily content that determines whether I watch or not. I find “NCIS” to be implausible but will watch the original. I can take or leave the two spin offs. I watch “Blue Bloods” and consider it one of the better cop shows currently playing. NBC came up with a new show, “Shades of Blue” with Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta. I watched the pilot Friday night.
The premise of “Shades of Blue” is that Lopez is a crooked cop, in a squad of crooked cops, run by Ray Liotta. Liotta of “Goodfellas” fame knows how to play a scumbag. “Shades of Blue” deviates from the “The Shield”, Lopez is busted by the FBI and flipped as a snitch, back into her squad.
When “The Shield” first came on I watched the second in the series first and then the pilot. If I remember correctly, the team executes a search warrant and busts a couple of low level drug dealers. They find a current NBA star in a back bedroom who is in town to play a game and is visiting friends from the hood. The members of the raid team realize who they have and the wheels start turning. The star realizes his career is in jeopardy and potential endorsement contracts are fixing to go south. He is amenable to an arrangement.
Some of the narcs see the potential for a quick buck and pool their money to buy sneakers, jerseys, action figures and posters for the star to autograph. Vic Mackie sees a chance to mess with the betting line and make a killing on the sports book. All these clowns have to do his keep the star occupied signing and endorsing and waiting for the “captain” to approve their fix to keep him out of the papers. I thought this series might be good, not crazy about cops as crooks, but.
The I saw the first show. The team murders a fellow officer because they thought he was a snitch. I never watched another episode. Was it the killing? Cops and crooks get killed all the time on TV. Was it the outright murder? It seemed okay when Magnum P.I. murdered “Ivan” a Russian intelligence officer. Maybe it was the last vestiges of my Catholic upbringing hanging on and that act was beyond redemption.
Somehow I don’t think “beyond redemption” is the complete answer. I think these shows “The Shield”, “Shades of Blue”, “GoodFellas” and “Prince of the City” demonstrate a common ethos. Redemption isn’t a consideration because there is no need for it. They have created a value system without value. It’s Quentin Tarantino on continuous loop.
These shows pale in comparison to the “The Wire,” possibly the best police series ever made. Make no mistake, “The Wire” portrays a flawed organization, manned by flawed individuals making questionable decisions. In “The Wire” the decisions show results, sometimes in ways never anticipated. I might be imagining things but I see a striving for something better on the part of almost all the characters in “The Wire.” That’s what makes it different, the characters in “Shades of Blue” are trying to maintain the status quo, just trying to keep the wheels from falling off.
Coincidently this week, Frank Reagan of “Blue Bloods” is confronted with the draft of a tell all book, written by one of his former partners. It tells how they worked hard and played hard while coming up in the NYPD of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Forty year old stories of bedroom daring do and legendary pub crawls scattered amongst the battles to reclaim a city are not consistent with the current image of what a police commissioner should be. His press secretary wants to manage the news and suppress the book. Reagan ultimately decides that the measure of the man is in the telling of the whole story and offers a forward written by him to the author.
There seems to be a tendency these days to quantify sin without judging the quality of it. There is a difference between stealing a dime and stealing a million. Failure to recognize this fact condemns the petty thief and provides cover to the guy that steals millions. Unspoken in such a judgment is derision for the petty thief for selling out so cheaply and admiration for the grand thief for taking the risk.
As one rocket scientist on Facebook said, “I hate judgmental people.” I responded,”In order to make that statement, don’t you first have to be judgmental?” We make judgments everyday the trick is having the balls to stand by those judgments, everyday.