Ready yourself for tonight's premiere of brand new gritty TV drama, Graceland. Visually slick Graceland rewards viewers who persevere.
Graceland is created by Jeff Eastin (NBC's Hawaii, USA's White Collar), and follows members of separate law enforcement branches who are required to work - and live - together undercover in a Californian beach house in an hour long show. '
Described as "grittier" and "more complex" than White Collar by The Washington Post, the story and setting are said to be based on real-life events where a beach house, that was seized in the 90s by the feds, is used as a base for undercover agents. The name 'Graceland' comes from the name of the house - after its previous drug dealing owner's obsession with Elvis.
The first episode focuses on Mike: a Virginian played by Aaron Tveit, who you may recognise from Les Misérables and Gossip Girl. The move, and subsequent culture-shock Mike experiences, from Virginia to sunny Santa Monica is explored in the pilot episode as he adapts to his new surroundings and unconventional housemates. Mike joins a band of other undercover agents in the mansion, lead by "menacingly ambivalent" senior FBI agent Paul Briggs; who is played by Daniel Sunjata - best known from FX's firefighter drama Rescue Me.
The agents, including cop-show veteran Vanessa Ferlito (24 & CSI: NY), masquerade under various roles, such as a heroin addict, in order to infiltrate the criminal underworlds. Whilst the pilot is mainly concerned with scene setting, succeeding episodes are "crispier" as the series picks up speed.
Despite some inevitable cop clichés and a tendency for style over substance, the plot is elaborate with clever twists and, according to Variety, delves into the moral "gray areas that going undercover entails, which can include bending the rules."
Jeff Wachtel, the co-president of USA Network enthuses about how excited he is for the previously unexplored territory of the new show's concept: "It has that fantastic and rich look...but we also want to go to very edgy and dark places with it."
Expect plenty of cop action amidst barely-dressed beach extras, surfers peppering a glittering sea, and idyllic sunshine-swathed shots of the Californian coast.
Worth a watch, we reckon. Tune in tonight (June 6th): USA Network at 10pm.
Stars Of New Cop-Drama Graceland: Daniel Sunjata [L] & Vanessa Ferlito [R].