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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

BLUE BLOODS

"you don't always see a show that blends family drama into a police drama."

I like Tom Sellek; he's always been fun to watch and as he's aged he's gotten very interesting as an actor, much more subtle and understated. His work on the Robert Parker "Jesse Stone" series of adaptations has been quite good, and he's started a new job on CBS with the series Blue Bloods. This is a show about a cop family, with three generations of police officers in New York City. The grandfather (played by Len Cariou) is retired, the father (Sellek) is police commissioner, and two sons (Donny Walberg and Will Estes) are cops - one a hot shot detective and the other a new recruit. The daughter is an assistant DA (Bridget Moynahan).

The writing of the first episode started out just abysmally (which is surprising since two Sopranos writers are working on it - Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green). It was one cliche after another, with non stop predictable crap. It got better by the end of the show and the second episode was much better and more thoughtful and creative. The plots are fairly straight forward cop stuff: a child molester with the victim needing insulin and a subway robber/rapist gang thug. However, what goes on other than the main plot is what makes the show work better. The primary focus of Blue Bloods is on the family, and more than that each episode hits on a theme that they discuss at their weekly dinner together.

Granddad is a conservative curmudgeon with no patience for modern leftist nonsense. Sellek is more introspective and thoughtful about it, but generally is more right leaning, like most cops. Donnie Walberg is a hot head with a lot of great instincts but some poor cop skills. The first episode dealt with the idea of torture and how far you're willing to go if you absolutely have to. The second was about vigilantes and why they seem to be punished harder than normal criminals.

What's missing in the show, though, is much originality. There's the Cop Who Breaks All The Rules and the Crusty Old Man and the Minority Partner and the young cop trying to fit in and learn the job and the Vast Conspiracy of Dirty Cops and so on. It is something we've all seen and read before dozens, even scores of times. The cast all gives great performances, but they're just working through old rehashed stuff that simply isn't new enough to make a mark.

The only real distinctive about Blue Bloods is something NCIS shares: its basically a right-leaning show in terms of worldview. That and the focus on a family rather than one or two cops makes this somewhat different, but not enough to really make it stand out. So while I like Blue Bloods, it doesn't really hold my attention and I doubt it will last a full season.

And that's really a shame because given time it probably would find its own voice and make something new happen. There are glimpses in the show, things don't turn out exactly like you think they will and the cop procedural stuff is pretty good. The NYPD building looks authentic inside too, its not all glass walls and nonexistent holographic projection technology. Still, give it a try, you might find it interesting.

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