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Monday, January 31, 2011


Would you trust this family? Yes, you probably would.

The most immediate thought I had when watching the pilot of new CBS drama ‘Blue Bloods’ is how reminiscent it was of ‘The Good Wife.’ It’s from the same channel in the US so that isn’t surprising, but it carries far more similarities than that. Considering ‘The Good Wife’ is one of my favourite shows, this bodes well for the future of ‘Blue Bloods’.

‘Blue Bloods’ follows the Reagan family – all involved in law-related professions – and their trials and tribulations in New York. Tom Selleck is the big-name star as New York City’s police commissioner and Len Cariou also features as his father who occupied that same position. Donnie Wahlberg is his police detective son, Bridget Moynihan his ADA daughter and Will Estes as his law-grad turned beat cop youngest child. It’s by the numbers casting – but really, really well done by the numbers casting.

So like ‘The Good Wife’, the cast is excellent and eminently watchable. The pilot episode follows a fairly rote, uninspiring and slightly manipulative missing-child case that no doubt suffered due to the time allotted to introducing us to all the characters. Sometimes I wish the occasional pilot episode would save a character or two to introduce at a later episode as any procedural storyline in a pilot episode inevitably suffers – and that happens here. Donnie Wahlberg brings an unusual level of depth to his character during the storyline, however.

The pilot certainly looks fantastic and wears its New York heritage on its sleeve – there’s no beating around the bush about where this show is set (the soundtrack gives that away with not one but two versions of New York, New York.) Even better, the show is actually filmed in New York, giving the whole thing a sense of scale and grandeur that could be fantastically effective if used properly. A TV show where the city is a character (see again: Chicago in ‘The Good Wife’ or Baltimore in ‘The Wire’) is at a serious advantage over its competition.

One of the other similarities isn’t particularly interesting – the ethical quandaries brought to light during the kidnapping case are discussed with passion but a complete lack of depth during a dinner party scene. If you’re going to have a debate about the justification of ‘advanced interrogation’, at least give it the time and depth it deserves, not a cursory listing of the basic arguments.

So ‘Blue Bloods’ is coasting along at a lightly entertaining but unmemorable pace but about thirty-five minutes into the pilot Will Estes character gets involved in what seems like it might be an ongoing, season-long arc of intrigue and if so, count me involved. I actually sat up at this moment (which I won’t spoil) and paid proper attention to a show that had previously only occasionally involved me.

So how can ‘Blue Bloods’ become as good as ‘The Good Wife’? By paying proper attention to the season-long arcs its characters are involved in, by fully exploring any moral questions that it gets involved with, and most of all, by developing the kind of procedural stories that enhance the ongoing plots, rather than distracting from them.

If it does any of that, it has the potential to be an addictive police drama with a great cast and a point of difference. If it does all of that, it could be the new great police drama on television.

Blue Bloods airs at 8:30pm Wednesday night on Channel Ten.

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