Shades of Blue: Original Sin – The Tell Times Two (Review)

Shades of Blue - Season 1

Shades of Blue with Original Sin falls down a bit after such a promising  pilot.  Harlee (Jennifer Lopez) turns out to have been “dirty” from her uniform days and episode two has one glaringly huge continuity error and the world’s most obvious “tell” times two.  For those who have not watched a plethora of cop shows where they explain how suspects have a “tell” when they lie,  the explanation of what that is can be learned by watching this episode.

Apparently, the director, the star of the show and, possibly, the writers all decided to rely upon the “Body Language for Dummies” approach to this segment.  As Wozniak (Ray Liotta) works through who his “rat” is, it seems that his first suspect is Harlee. The corrupt cop leader looks over an old interrogation tape where he is interviewing a younger and still uniformed Harlee.

During the Q&A, where the young Santos is asked about setting up Miguel Zepeda for murder (she did) Harlee’s “tell” is to very obviously lift her left hand and smooth hair over her ear.  The gesture screams, “I am lying.”  To make sure that the slower members of the audience get the idea, they are treated to the footage repeatedly.

Later, when Woz zeroes in on Harlee during her solo polygraph test, she makes the same gesture, or tell.  Once again, Wozniak notices it (it is hard not to) and the viewer is treated to another repeat of the original tell, back during the Zepeda investigation, and compared by Wozniak.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Woz, getting the shotgun wrong…

By the time the show ends Woz knows who his rat is. If he does not one can only wonder how he has managed to keep his detective badge.

While the  Shades of Blue  makers worked overtime to make sure the audience “got” the point of Harlee’s “tell” they completely blow the entire subplot of the “shooter” outside the shop.

At the start of the episode, during a party, Woz and Harlee respond to a liquor store owner, who pays for protection, to “hold his hand.” After arriving at the business, the car reported to be cruising in front of the store repeatedly comes by and opens fire with a:

“Single-grip shotgun.”

In the shooting scene said shotgun is a chrome, single barrel pump. Later, when Woz and Santos go to the shooter’s apartment, Matt grabs a sawed off double barrel shotgun and replies to Harlee, after she mentions finding mood stabilizers:

“And the shotgun…”

Regardless of whatever else has been going on in this episode this blaring “WTF” moment takes the viewer right out of the story.  Suddenly the importance of Harlee’s FBI handler Robert Stahl (Warren Kole) being a jerk and uber douche does not really matter. What does, is that the show’s makers really believe the audience is so simple-minded, or unobservant, that they missed this “shotgun” mixup.

The shotgun held by Matt Wozniak is a shotgun but not the shotgun. However, with three short words, the character states that it is.  Viewers can be forgiven or switching off at that moment.

This comes on top of the blazingly obvious “tell” that Santos exhibits when lying. A tell, by the way, that is not apparent when being questioned (in the pilot) about her rookie partner’s shooting of a drug suspect  who was armed with an Xbox controller. A coverup that Harlee orchestrated to make it look as though the dead man shot at Loman first, which is a massive lie,  is easily pulled off with no tell whatsoever.

It seems  wasteful to have excellent actors, like Liotta and Lopez, going through their paces while the program makers spoon-feed the audience in one instance and then assume that their viewers are inattentive as well as stupid in the next.

Shades of Blue - Season 1
Sarah Jeffery as Cristina Santos

Apart from the annoying things in this episode,  the audience do learn why Stahl picked Santos to be the rat and of her deep love for daughter Cristina (Sarah Jeffery) and the connection that the two have. 

It also appears that Tess Nazario (Drea de Matteo) may have a problem…a large one.

Stahl is revealed to be someone who is not afraid to break the rules while busting Harlee for breaking others.  The FBI hotshot is petty and not likable at all, which puts him firmly in the villain slot.  Unfortunately all of the cops in Wozniak’s little band of rule-benders also fall into the “wrong side of the law”  category, so presumably Stahl is painted as being much worse so the audience know who to cheer for.

Shades of Blue airs Thursdays on NBC. While not exactly “quality television” the show is entertaining just for Lopez and Liotta alone, tune in and see if you can overlook the “boo-boos.”

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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