Dylan mcdermott

McDermott returns as L.A. cop on TNT drama

By Karen Butler

Irish-American actor Dylan McDermott says what sets his series "Dark Blue" apart from other television cop dramas is the quality of its writing and the uniqueness of its characters.

In the series, the 48-year-old Connecticut native plays Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Carter Shaw, a man whose dedication to putting the bad guys away has largely cost him his personal life, including his marriage.

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"There are so many cop shows [in general] and so many cop shows on TNT, so 'what's the difference?' is a big question and a good question," remarked the actor during a recent telephone interview with the Irish Echo.

"I think that 'Dark Blue' separates itself from other cop shows by its characters," he continued. "Our characters are fascinating and there are no other characters on TV like them. The look of the show [is] like a movie to me every week and I think the story lines are darker and grittier than they are on other cop shows. So I think all those elements make 'Dark Blue' different from all the rest."

McDermott, who is best known for playing nice-guy Boston lawyer Bobby Donnell on TV's "The Practice," went on to say he is pleased the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced "Dark Blue" was picked up for a 10-episode second season. This move suggests the drama has the support of fans and the confidence of its network.

"That's something TNT is really terrific at, I think," said McDermott, whose show "Big Shots" was swiftly canceled after only a handful of episodes in 2008. "I think their model is to give shows at least two seasons and see how they do. You don't get that on network television. If something's not working, they just pull it. TNT has the courage to say, 'Let's give the show a chance; we'll give it two seasons.' And I'm really glad they have, because I think it's in this one that we found our footing and our voice for the show."

One of the big differences between the first and second seasons, he noted, is that his character will have a love interest in the new episodes.

"I think the addition of Tricia Helfer [to the cast] has helped a great deal because now I have romance in my life," said the real-life, divorced father of two daughters. "Last season, I had no romance and I was mourning my ex-wife, so I think (a new relationship) opens up Carter a great deal. So, you'll see the show being a little bit lighter in tone, more humor and clearly more romance, so that's the good news."

So, is there any bad news?

"Yeah, it's police work," laughed the former New York bartender. "And, in police work, there's a lot of danger. You're going to see a lot of our main characters in jeopardy throughout the season and actually one of them gets really hurt. It's still a dark, gritty world that we're living in, but we made some changes to the show that I think make it more dynamic and will open the show up to a wider audience."

For McDermott -- who has played a wide range of characters in films such as "Hamburger Hill," "Steel Magnolias," "In the Line of Fire," "The Cowboy Way" and "Runaway Jury" -- the opportunity to bring to life another complex character like Carter was intriguing.

"There's something about him that's heroic and courageous and dark and funny to me," the actor confided. "He has the ability to do this job well, but, also, he's a cowboy. He's willing to put himself out there in a way that most people would never do. When you're doing the type of work in a huge city like Los Angeles that is quite dangerous . . . you need people like Carter because without them there is a lot of chaos. There are guys who exist like him. You may not know their names and faces, but they're out there and they're doing work you would never do in a million years."

Season 2 of "Dark Blue" begins airing on TNT August 4. For times, check local listings.