There is something very satisfying about having an anticipated show live up to one’s expectations. Anyone who may have been looking forward to CBS’ Blue Bloods, the new police drama that features the return of Tom Selleck to the small screen, will be able to feel that particular brand of satisfaction. The core characters – the Reagan family – are all exceptionally well-drawn, even in the pilot, and it was easy to become attached to them, and to their individual and collective problems, from the first meeting.
Patriarch Frank (Selleck, fantastic as always) doubles as head of the family and Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, following in the footsteps of his father (Broadway vet Len Cariou), while his children – detective first grade Daniel (Donnie Wahlberg, Assistant District Attorney Erin (Bridget Moynahan), and Harvard-instructed former law student-turned-rookie cop Jamie (Will Estes) – all work to walk that same balance. With a supporting cast that includes Amy Carlson (Third Watch) as Daniel’s wife, and Nick Turturro (NYPD Blue) as Jamie’s training officer, there is hardly a weak link among the cast members responsible for bringing the main characters to life, and it will definitely be a cast that is enjoyable to watch.
The dynamics among the family members are wildly believable and realistic; Selleck’s Frank can calm a room with just a stare, as evidenced during a scene where the family’s Sunday dinner gets a little bit tense, while the siblings bicker amongst each other, and disagree, and even flat-out fight, but maintain an underlying sense of affection, respect, and familial loyalty. Not once do these people feel like characters, and there’s never a moment when one of them says something that feels false, or like the wrong lines were placed in the wrong character’s mouth.
As for the police procedural part of the show, it is a welcome and familiar thing, but never really feels like a Law & Order rip-off. Even though the case is important, the characters still remain at the forefront; in the premiere, it is Daniel who takes center stage as he tries to track down a missing little girl, and perhaps steps over the line of propriety in extracting information from a suspect.
Wahlberg is superb as ever, often bringing to mind his role as Detective Joel Stevens in NBC’s short-lived Boomtown. Estes is charming, naïve, and sweet, earnest and believable, and wide-eyed and genuine as baby-of-the-family Jamie, and Moynahan is a pleasant surprise as tough-as-nails, only-daughter Erin. It is a shame that Carlson is only listed as a guest star for the premiere – here’s hoping that her role is expanded even just a little bit, because she has the ability to light up a screen.
All in all, this is a show that needs to survive, and has all of the tools to do it – as long as the Friday-night timeslot doesn’t prove fatal.
Blue Bloods airs Friday nights at 10:00 PM Eastern Time, on CBS.