Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pilot Review: Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods (Fridays at 10:00 on CBS)

So I'm not exactly Speedy Gonzalez when it comes to reviewing the new shows this year. Whether it be because I don't know what to make of a show after one episode (The Event, Nikita) or, as in the case of Blue Bloods, I like a show but am not excited by it.

Blue Bloods is about a family of law enforcers, the Reagans. There's retired patriarch Henry (Len Carious); chief of police Frank (Tom Selleck); wild child detective Danny (Donnie Wahlberg); bitter ADA Erin (Bridget Moynahan); and rookie Jamie (Will Estes). That's pretty much the plot: they're all cops, and they don't all get along. The pilot opens with Jamie's graduation from the police academy just as a diabetic girl is kidnapped. The only clue Danny has to go on is a doll left at the scene, which turns out to be a prototype only available to three individuals... so the police procedural/mystery part of the story doesn't really go anywhere, since we're hit with only three suspects in the first fifteen minutes, and it absoultely has to be one of them. I suppose it's a bit more realistic than the long-winded crimes of the Law & Order franchise, but it's still not too exciting for viewers used to that type of format.

But when the focus shifts from the crime aspect of the series to the family aspect, Blue Bloods becomes more interesting. This is clearly a family with some deep and long-gestating issues, so the traditional Sunday dinner scene is the most explosive. Forget the kidnapped girl, the clock ticking on the case, and you have a quietly intense family drama. The chemistry among these actors is extraordinary. I figured there had to be something drawing so many film stars into a television series, and I think the moments when everyone gathers to casually chat is what did it. Sunday dinner turns into a quiet brawl; Donnie Wahlberg does especially good work here facing off against Bridget Moynahan. Tom Selleck isn't much to write home about in an underwritten and underutilized role. Len Cariou will get laughs from the over-60 crowd. But the real surprise is Will Estes, who plays the newly graduated Jamie. His character was on track to become a lawyer with a degree from Harvard when he decided to go into the family business after the murder of his cop brother. He takes grief from his fiancee (Who can blame her? You think you're marrying a lawyer, and now you're marrying a cop.) and, at the episode's end, is approached by an outside agency, who previously worked with his brother, to essentially spy on his coworkers, seeking out who may be involved in a secret society of policemen.

All in all, Blue Bloods is a step up from the usual police procedural. There is the crime-of-the-week, but there is also something more interesting in the family dynamic. It has, unfortunately, taken a backseat to the crime portion of the show for now, but hopefully it will build back up once Jamie's mission is more clearly established. There's definitely potential for greatness at work here.

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