graceland pilot preview aaron tveit daniel sunjata usa 'Graceland' preview: 5 reasons to watch USA's new, dark drama

“Graceland” isn’t your typical “blue-skies” show on USA. The story of undercover federal agents working out of a California beach house is instead a fairly gritty drama involving drugs, murder and deception — and that’s just in the first few minutes.

Sure, the show — which stars Aaron Tveit (“Les Miserables”) and Daniel Sunjata (“Rescue Me”) — also features surfing in a beautiful setting, but the waves are not the point.

And that’s okay. “Graceland” is meant to be somewhat darker than other shows on the cable network. The darker tone works well in this, giving a sense of urgency and foreboding to the character-driven crime drama.

This is definitely a show to watch — here are five reasons (only slightly spoilery) why you should:

1. This is not a cheerful, family-friendly show. You should expect more “Breaking Bad” and less “Monk” when watching. Seriously, a character injects himself with heroin and then takes a bullet. And that’s within the first few minutes.

2. Elvis has most definitely left the building. The “Graceland” of the title does originate in a reference to the King of Rock and Roll, but don’t worry about cheesy impersonators or other Elvis Presley paraphernalia littering the sets.

3. There’s plenty of humor in the mix. While drugs, murder and the occasional bit of smuggling takes up much of the plot time, each character gets his or her jokes in. One recurring bit of humor throughout the pilot: Briggs (Sunjata) created a fake movie as part of a cover ID a couple of years earlier. By the end of the episode, every plot point of that film has come into play.

4. Cover jobs mentioned in the pilot episode include tae-bo instructor, teacher, trust-fund kid, actor, Rastafarian bird dealer and airline pilot.

5. The characters of “Graceland” are fully realized by the end of the pilot. With a house full of agents, it would be easy to gloss over the personalities in favor of the plot. “Graceland” doesn’t take that easy route. By the end of the show’s first installment, be prepared to root for everyone — even if they are at odds with one another.

“Graceland” airs Thursdays at 10pm on USA.

Posted by:Laurel Brown