Television doesn’t seem to take the time to single out the importance of family. It becomes all about the next big stunt or villainous traitor. On Friday nights, CBS challenges that with its all-American, “blue-blooded” drama that is nothing if not a look at the bonds a family can sustain.
Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) considers it an honor to watch out for every single person who wears “blue” as the police commissioner, no matter their race or rank. Following the death of the mayor, a new candidate is elected causing trouble for Frank’s term. It’s expected that the commissioner resign but accepting Reagan’s resignation is not something the mayor is interested in, but… he does expect Frank to adhere to his new chain of command. While dealing with a new administration, Frank must also take some flak from the media who claim that his children receive special treatment, especially his detective son, Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) and his law-school-graduate-turned-rookie-cop son Jamie (Will Estes). Danny catches virtually any high profile case of his department along with his tough partner, Jackie (Jennifer Esposito) – including a murder case involving a high-priced lawyer – while Jamie has just coincidentally fallen into confidence with a member of a virtually impenetrable crime family. Then there is Erin (Bridget Moynahan), the assistant D.A. whose sense of justice often clashes with her blue-blooded police brothers.
Crime shows may be challenged in finding new footing to explore but CBS does it right with its tried-and-true “blue” drama. Familial ties that last still resonates with America and this show does not become lost in the dank and dark shadows of crime; its focus is on those family relationships – whether they are squabbling siblings or parental rebukes, and it’s a wonderful thing that writer’s never lose sight of. Once a week, we can count on the Reagan family gathering around the dining room table to enjoy each other’s company and a home-made meal. There isn’t much better sentimentality than those scenes. With the help of the material they are given, the cast carries this show to the max.
Tom Selleck is brilliant in his role and he’s surrounded by a fabulous supporting cast in his on-screen children and ex-commissioner father, Len Cariou. Complex cases do find their place in these installments including an interesting one that challenges Frank’s confidence in his past investigations and a pair of episodes that pairs Erin with a man whom she is being told is a thief – played convincingly well by Fred Weller (In Plain Sight) with reflections of his previous character coming right off a prior television role. Then there is the breath-catching nervousness of Jamie’s assignment that leaves us willing for it to be over and done with – and it finishes rather well with a confrontation that convinced us if not Jamie (who begins to question his career as a cop) that he is one of the best guys on the beat. As a viewer, the choice is obvious and I’d be loath to see him give up this profession. It’s a part of how we “know” Jamie and seeing him in a suit and tie every day just wouldn’t be right.
Intensity may be skipped over in certain elements but there is enough excitement in family dynamics to keep fans satisfied and yet create suspense in the crime cases. I didn’t like what a 180 Danny’s wife, Linda underwent this season – in the premiere season, I was impressed with her character because for once she wasn’t a weepy cop’s wife… that changed in certain instances here. One example is understandable but isn’t totally forgivable. If you are a fan of crime dramas but prefer a character-driven narrative, there isn’t anything more satisfying than spending part of your week with the Reagan family. Justice is something none of them take lightly but fight every single day to uphold – and the finale is particularly moving and poignant because of that.
(The show is rated TV14: Multiple scenes involve a crime including victims being shot or murdered by other means. A case or two deals with rape. Gunfire is exchanged over a dozen times in the 20-plus episodes. There are a few sexual references [Frank spends the night with an ex-flame]. At school, Nicki deals with a best friend who sends out a suggestive photo of herself in a mass text form. Profanity includes sh*t, da*n and other commonplace uses of swearing.)