Shades of Blue

Jennifer Lopez is Det. Harlee Santos on NBC's new crime drama, "Shades of Blue."

NBC

We’ll be getting twice as much Jennifer Lopez this winter.

The multi-talented artist will join Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban as a judge for the 15th and final season of Fox’s “American Idol,” which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Time Warner Cable channels 9, 18, 1206 and 1207).

Lopez also will show off her acting chops, starring and working as executive producer on a new NBC police drama. “Shades of Blue,” which also is executive produced by “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest, premieres at 9 p.m. Thursday on NBC (channels 6, 1203 and 1204). The drama comes from Adi Hasak, who brought film director Barry Levinson in to helm the first two episodes.

In “Shades,” Lopez plays Harlee Santos, a single mother and top-notch detective who works in an extremely gray area. She and her co-workers, including her boss, Lt. Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta), shake down bad guys to make ends meet and help keep peace on the streets. The cast also includes Drea de Matteo (“Sons of Anarchy”) as one of the iffy cops.

The story turns halfway through the pilot, with Lopez’ Santos facing a decision that will affect her career and her family.

Lopez, believe it or not, is credible in her tough-woman role, and Liotta always is great when cast as an anti-hero, dating all the way back to “Goodfellas.” Here, he reminds me a bit of Michael Chiklis’ Vic Mackey in “The Shield.”

“Shades” is not stellar -- it’s a little over the top in playing up the conflict -- it has some grit to it. If anything, it’s kind of fun seeing Lopez kick some butt and take no prisoners. If only she could be this harsh on “Idol.” Grade: B.

Also new this week:

“Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life,” 7:30 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 3). Think Ferris Bueller in his 20s, right down to Cooper Barrett (Jack Cutmore-Scott) breaking the fourth wall and speaking to the audience just as Matthew Broderick did in the cult film. The hijinks revolve around Barrett’s post-college life with his roomies (Charlie Saxton, James Earl), married older brother (Justin Bartha) and attractive neighbor (Meghan Rath). It’s entertaining, mainly because all the characters are just so darn likable. Earl, particularly, is a hoot. Grade: B+

“Bordertown,” 8:30 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 3), Fox. Coming from “Family Guy’s” Mark Hentemann and Seth McFarlane, the animated comedy is about two families living in a Southwest desert town on the U.S.-Mexico border. The two dads are voiced by Hank Azaria (Apu and Moe, among others, on “The Simpsons”) and Ernesto Gonzalez (Det. Luke Morales on “Sleepy Hollow”). If you like “Family Guy’s” crude, lewd and offensive humor, you’ll love this one. I lasted 15 minutes. Grade: C.

“Angel From Hell,” 8:30 p.m. Thursday, CBS. Jane Lynch pretty much plays the same kind of character that won her an Emmy on Fox’s “Glee.” Here, she’s a wise-cracking (and hard-drinking) woman claiming to be a guardian angel to Maggie Lawson. The fun is trying to figure out if Lynch’s character is delusional or really an angel. The supporting cast includes the always funny Kyle Bornheimer as Lawson’s brother. Grade: B.

Shows beginning new seasons this week include:

* “Downton Abbey,” 8 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 3), PBS

* “The Bachelor,” 7 p.m. Monday, ABC

* “The Biggest Loser,” 8 p.m. Monday, NBC

* “Hollywood Game Night,” 7 p.m. Tuesday, NBC

* “New Girl,” 7 p.m. Tuesday, Fox

* “American Crime,” 9 p.m. Wednesday, ABC

* “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” 9 p.m. Wednesday, FXX

* “Man Seeking Woman,” 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, FXX

* “Beyond the Tank,” 9 p.m. Thursday, ABC

* “Todd Margaret,” 9 p.m. Thursday, IFC

* “Mythbusters,” 8 p.m. Saturday, Discovery

Reach the writer at 402-473-7213 or jkorbelik@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSjeffkorbelik.

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Features editor

Jeff Korbelik is the features editor and covers dining, performing arts, TV and local media. Follow him at @LJSjeffkorbelik.

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