|Posted by Tony Lankford on April 18, 2011 at 11:10 PM|
By Brett S. Harrison
“Revelation Blue”, a one hour cop show pilot directed by Tony Lankford, begins with a dead homeless guy in an alley. It’s not the first cop show to do show and it won’t be the last. But, “Revelation Blue” is not your average cop show.
Detective Devon Blue (Nicholas Torrens) is a former minister now on the Philadelphia Homicide squad. Blue discovers the dead homeless man wasn’t homeless at all but a financial guru who was taking his get rich seminars to the city’s homeless population. This is not a particularly fun case for Blue as he’s getting heat from all sides: Fellow Detective Wormwood (Mark Bitner), Assitant D.A. Roth (Maria Wolf), and his own boss Lt. Harlin (Marc Jones)
Lankford, with the help of writer Donnell Booker, has set out to make a cop show with a twist. The blurb on the screener and the Website is quite clear: “Ex-pastor Devon Blue, now Philadephia detective, faces the choice of living by the law of man…or the Law of God”. In that sense, he has succeeded. Although “Revelation Blue” doesn’t hit you over the head with religion, it makes it quite clear more than once that its protagonist is a man of God. In one very good scene, Blue is confronted by Lt. Harlin(nicely played by Jones), who asks him point blank “What are you running from?” So we never know quite what drives Blue but we know he has demons.
Blue might be the main character but the real star of the show is Philly itself. In much the same way “NYPD Blue” showcases New York, “Revelation Blue” showcases Philly as Lankford shows us everything from the Municipal Services Building where our characters work to the rougher parts of South Philly and other areas of the city. Lankford has a firm grasp of the visual as he efficiently uses shots of the El and other locations to give his story space.
Because of its spiritual angle, “Revelation Blue” would be expected to be low on violence and is. But Lankford is no fool. He is still working in a genre that is expected to have a certain edge and that he provides. The urban feel is augmented in no small way by Alex Khaskin’s brooding electronic score. Donnell Booker’s no nonsense, sparse script also does a lot to give “Revelation Blue” authenticity.
Nicholas Torrens is an engaging actor who will no doubt be heard from in the future. Blue has a lot of screen time and Torrens is more than adept at carrying this weight. “Revelation Blue” does a competent job balancing the police procedure aspects with the more spiritual aspects without ever seeming preachy. We know from Jump Street that Blue is a spiritual person and are happy to go along for the ride.
Despite the show’s positive traits, I wouldn’t recommend Lankford starts counting his Emmys just yet. Like its main character, “Revelation Blue” is not without its flaws. In the exterior scenes the sound is sometimes very difficult to hear, particularly the aforementioned scene between Blue and his superior and another scene shot in the Italian Market with Wormwood. This can be quite distracting and makes it difficult to follow the story. The other main weakness is the other characters. Detective Wormwood(Mark Bitner) comes off as one-dimensional and shrill. It’s difficult to tell if this is from the writing or from Mr. Bitner’s acting. Assistant D.A. Wolf also could have used a little fleshing out. And the story itself, as compelling as it often is, gets a little difficult to follow.
There have been cop shows since the beginning of TV. Some have been brilliant. Others merely run of the mill. With a novel premise and a compelling visual style, “Revelation Blue” just may have what it takes to make it.
With a little help from the Man upstairs, of course.