Glory be to the mustache gods! Tom Selleck (and his world-famous facial hair) is back on television again in the new CBS series Blue Bloods. The police procedural, which follows a multi-generational family of New York City cops, features Selleck as Frank Reagan, the New York City Police Commissioner.
The show also stars Donny Wahlberg as Danny Reagan, a veteran detective and Iraq war veteran; Will Estes as Jamie Reagan, a Harvard graduate turned rookie cop; Len Cariou as Henry Reagan, the patriarch of the family and retired former police commissioner; and Bridget Moynahan as Erin Reagan, a New York City assistant district attorney.
The last time the 65-year-old Selleck appeared on the small screen in a regular series was in 2008 for the fifth and final season of the NBC show Las Vegas. Will the former Magnum P.I. star’s return to regular network drama bode well for CBS? Judging from the early ratings, the answer is a solid yes.
According to reports, Blue Bloods notched 12.81 million viewers, giving it a solid victory in the ratings (albeit on the generally non-competitive Friday night). The show’s success, however, is not only a result of its time slot. With Blue Bloods, CBS has found a show that offers just enough interesting elements to separate the series from other cop shows (whether the show continues to keep things fresh remains to be seen).
Read on for a more thorough description of the show, and for our detailed review of the pilot episode.
Preview (via CBS.com)
Blue Bloods is a drama about a multi-generational family of cops dedicated to New York City law enforcement. Frank Reagan is the New York City Police Commissioner and heads both the police force and the Reagan brood. He runs his department as diplomatically as he runs his family, even when dealing with the politics that plagued his unapologetically bold father, Henry, during his stint as Chief. A source of pride and concern for Frank is his eldest son Danny, a seasoned detective, family man, and Iraqi War vet who, on occasion, uses dubious tactics to solve cases. The sole Reagan woman in the family, Erin, is a N.Y. Assistant D.A. and newly single parent, who also serves as the legal compass for her siblings and father. Jamie is the youngest Reagan, fresh out of Harvard Law and the family’s “golden boy;” however, unable to deny the family tradition, Jamie decided to give up a lucrative future in law and is now a newly minted cop. Jamie’s life takes an abrupt turn when he’s asked to become part of a clandestine police investigation even his father knows nothing about, and one that could impact the family’s legacy.
At first glance, Blue Bloods is simply one more police procedural in a network television schedule packed full of crime drama – and for a good portion of the pilot episode, it’s hard to argue with this stereotype. The show starts off with an excellent montage set to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” We are slowly introduced to all the members of the Reagan clan getting ready for the youngest son Jamie’s induction as a rookie New York City police officer.
In this opening scene, the writers establish the general dynamic of the family. Jamie is the favored child, Danny is an effective cop, but a bit hardheaded, and Erin, as the only attorney of the bunch, is the family’s moral compass. Selleck’s character, Frank, watches over them all as both boss and father, showing pride through his handshakes, hugs, and the occasional glance of his wizened, but watchful eyes.
Much of the dialogue here is not particularly subtle. Danny’s wife makes rather brazen mention of the family’s missing sibling Joe, who was killed in the line of duty. I’m not sure someone would bring up such a painful memory at what is supposed to be a joyous occasion, but the script needs to establish that Jamie’s girlfriend, a first-year law associate, is uncomfortable with his decision to join the police force.
After the opening scene, the show falls into convention. Danny is called away from the graduation celebration to investigate the disappearance of a young Hispanic girl in one of New York City’s poorer neighborhoods. The plot offers a bit of political intrigue when Frank is peppered with questions about the police department’s lack of presence in Hispanic communities but it’s mostly a throwaway scene. The bulk of the episode focuses on Danny and his partner as they try and find the missing girl.
While investigating the crime, however, the show takes a somewhat unexpected turn. Danny, who has already been established as a lone wolf type character, busts in on a suspect’s apartment for information on the missing girl. In a different show, the detective might push the guy around a bit and threaten him, but on Blue Bloods, Danny goes full rogue cop and sticks the guy’s head down the toilet while he’s handcuffed. Clearly, Constitutional rights don’t weigh on Danny’s conscience.
Eventually, the guy gives up the information and the girl is saved, but Danny’s actions threaten the case. The pedophile’s lawyer argues police brutality and he’s got good proof. How the criminal is eventually brought to justice by Danny’s continued investigation is also somewhat conventional, so there isn’t a ton of dramatic tension, but it’s still nice to see a character letting loose on a network show.
Here’s my problem though, will Danny continue to act like this? Rather, will CBS continue to allow Danny to act like this? Cable channels like FX are better known as the place for anti-hero cops. If you have a guy who is willing to break the rules to get stuff done, we should be able to see him push the envelope a bit, which is something CBS isn’t known for. Besides, the show is meant to be an ensemble drama. If the most excitement the episode can muster comes from the renegade of the family, it will not be long before the episodes fall into the familiar cop formula.
The elements of the show focusing on the drama within the Reagan family are solid, but, as I mentioned before, the characters are written somewhat broadly. I don’t entirely believe the argument around the Sunday dinner table when Erin is lecturing Danny about not manhandling suspects and the dangers of a “police state.” Still, the actors handle the dialogue well and are convincing in their roles. They feel, look, and act like a family, so it’s easy to ignore the occasional cliché.
Overall, Blue Bloods is very watchable, and a late episode twist involving a secret investigation into the New York Police Department (which may or may not involve Frank) provides an interesting set-up for later episodes. As long as the writers continue to provide the characters with enough interesting choices, the show should become a solid hit for CBS.
Blue Bloods airs Friday nights at 10pm EST on CBS.