Blue Bloods Series 1
I know what you are thinking-yet another US cop drama? Well Blue Bloods, which begins its second series on Sky Atlantic this week provides a different, interesting trademark to try and set itself apart from the competition. If you are wondering whether to give it a shot or not, here is a look back at the first series that followed the exploits of three generations of Reagan law-enforcers.
Head of the family is police commissioner Frank (Tom Selleck, sporting his trademark moustache in a style not seen on British television since Graeme Souness chopped off his pride and joy). Frank is an interesting character who seems to speak only in short, morally thoughtful proverbs. I was waiting for him to tell us that a ‘bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’, but alas, it was not to be.
Now a widower, Frank is having an affair with a much younger television reporter, but you get the feeling that with that ‘tache, and his ability to provoke a thoughtful debate with even the most casual of utterances that women half his age are swooning all over him.
His father is retired commissioner Henry, played by Len Cariou, who was last seen as Louis Tobin in Damages. It took me a while to work out for definite that Henry is Frank’s actual father, and not a stepdad/father-in-law/anything like that, considering that in real life Cariou is only five years older than his on-screen son Selleck. I’ve still no idea how old either of them are meant to be.
The third generation of Reagan’s are headed by Danny (Donnie Wahlberg). He is probably the closest Blue Bloods comes to a central character, as every episode he is the lead detective in to whatever murder has been committed. Unfortunately, Danny falls in to that slightly-lazy stereotype of a bullish, angry cop who tends to scare the local low-life’s in to giving him information, but is the total contrast at home-happily married, and a devoted father of two boys.
The closest to a ‘nemesis’ Danny gets is sister Erin (Bridget Moynahan), who bucked the family trend by becoming an attorney, and is always there to thwart her brother’s gung-ho tactics by providing an alternative point of view and reminding him of the consequences of his actions. Erin is on the end of a messy divorce, always wears tight skirts and blouses, something much appreciated by the male audience, and has a daughter who after a mid-season haircut looks scarily like a young Liza Minnelli.
Frank’s youngest son is Jamie, a Harvard Law graduate who turned that career down for a role on the force, where he is now a rookie cop coaxing cats down from trees, and helping various attractive damsels-in-distress from crazy ex-boyfriends and stalkers. They all clearly fancy him, but he never does anything about it. Wally.
The elephant in the room at all mealtimes is Frank’s middle son Joe, another cop, who was killed in the line of duty. The recurring story throughout the first series is Jamie’s secret investigation in to finding out what actually happened, and whether a mysterious group of veteran officers called the Blue Templar were involved.
The centrepiece of every episode is Sunday dinner, when the entire family gathers around the dinner table and discusses the ethics of the case being investigated during that episode. This is probably the most intriguing aspect of the show, as each family member seems to have their say. Frank provides the morally-thoughtful perspective, Henry has the ‘old-school’ way of thinking, Erin gives the strictly legal position, while Danny is usually in full-on ‘Do what it takes to catch the crook’ mode. A nice addition is when any of the children pipe in with their innocent thoughts. Typically an argument erupts, and at least one of the family storms off in a paddy during the meal.
It would be easy for Blue Bloods to just present you with the typical viewpoint from one main character, but this gives a chance for the audience to see and hear different opinions on complex issues.
With the show being set in New York, you might expect a positive stylised view of the city, but this is not the case. Blue Bloods focuses a lot on the grimier aspects of New York, and the opulence and bright lights are usually only used to show an immediate contrast with a death that either has occurred, or is just about to happen. Also, it is always winter, and often night, which adds to the atmosphere and the fact that this is not the city you see in holiday brochures.
The two main themes of Blue Bloods are family and justice, and it does a good job of trying to link them together. It isn’t perfect, and does take itself far too seriously, but if you are looking to get in to a new US cop drama, and are daunted by the fact that shows like Law and Order and NCIS have already gone on for the best part of a million series, then Blue Bloods is certainly worth a watch.