CBS’ new drama “Blue Bloods” could go one of two ways: It could become a cop show whose main characters all happen to be related, or it could become a show about a family whose members all happen to work in law enforcement.
Either one would still boast a strong cast led by Tom Selleck, Bridget Moynahan and Donnie Wahlberg, and either one would be watchable. But based on what we saw in Friday’s (Sept. 24) series premiere, we’re pulling for the family element to be at least on equal footing with the crime stories.
The show was created by former “Sopranos” writers and producers Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, who know their way around a family dynamic. But it’s also on CBS, which knows its way around a crime procedural. What we’re hoping can happen is a melding of those two things similar to what has happened on “The Good Wife,” where the two co-exist and often complement one another.
Enough about what might be there, though. What is there in the premiere of “Blue Bloods” is the aforementioned cast, which also includes Will Estes (“Reunion,” “American Dreams”) and Len Cariou (“Damages”), and some sharply written and acted scenes between the family members. Those more than make up for a pretty standard-issue case in the premiere.
Selleck plays New York Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, a former rank-and-file cop who now runs the department. Elder son Danny (Wahlberg) is a detective, and younger son Jamie (Estes) has just graduated from the academy — after giving up Harvard Law School to wear a badge. Their sister, Erin (Moynahan) is an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. The premiere puts Erin and Danny at odds when he gets a little overzealous in questioning the lead suspect in a young girl’s abduction — both on the job and at Sunday dinner.
The family’s dinner conversation is one of the better moments of the pilot, with competing agendas all around and Grandpa Henry (Cariou) tossing in a verbal grenade that sends everybody running from the table. The competing interests of cops and prosecutors could be a source of great material for the show, and Moynahan and Wahlberg play well off one another as equally hard-headed siblings.
Jamie also quickly gets involved in what feels like the setup for an ongoing story involving corruption in the department, which given his family ties could be a source of conflict. And as Frank, Selleck is as commanding a presence as you’d expect; he’s an extremely economical actor, and he’s able to say a lot without talking very much.
The premiere’s weak point, frankly, is the case Danny and his partner (Flex Alexander) are investigating. It’s nothing you haven’t seen a dozen times previously on “Law & Order: SVU,” and when the focus is solely on the investigation, the dialogue feels a little clunkier than in the rest of the show. That may be simply because it’s a series pilot and things will smooth out once the show gets rolling; whatever the reason, it needs to even out.
With two veteran crime dramas in front of it — “Medium” at 8 p.m. ET and “CSI: NY” at 9 — “Blue Bloods” will probably do just fine in the ratings. We hope it can live up to its creative potential too.
Photo credit: CBS