CBS’s Blue Bloods remains an unexplained anomaly. Now in its improbable eleventh season, a television show less suited to the ruling zeitgeist can hardly be imagined.
As the double meaning of the title indicates, the Irish-Catholic Reagan family are law enforcement aristocracy in New York City, with police commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) as paterfamilias. One of his sons, Joe, has died in the line of duty as a police officer before the series begins, oldest son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is a senior detective on the force, daughter Erin Reagan (Bridget Moynahan) is an assistant district attorney, and in the pilot episode, Harvard-educated youngest son Jamie (Will Estes) decides to give up a promising law career to join the NYPD. Living with the widowed Frank is his father Henry Reagan (Lou Cariou), a former police commissioner himself who is there to provide historical perspective and grandfatherly advice.
Any aristocracy is an affront to modern sensibilities, but what makes this a peculiarly old-style American one is that it is self-made; its scions don’t live off of trust funds. Frank has as his personal sidearm a revolver carried by his father Henry before him, who in turn inherited it from his own father. Each of the Reagan men have followed the path that Jamie embarks on at the beginning of the first season: starting at the bottom as a rookie beat cop and expected to work his way up on his own, albeit aided by that most precious of family inheritances, wise advice born of experience.
What the late producer Leonard Goldberg created in Blue Bloods is an atmosphere with a satisfyingly biblical sweep, conveyed through impressive production quality, sterling writing, and fine acting from the cast. Television series have mastered a multi-episode story arc concept that suits both broadcast needs and streaming services, and the layered Reagan family allows such arcs to follow unpredictable paths that include not only crimes, but also New York political conflicts, legal wrangling, police corruption, social disruption, and family crises. Blue Bloods touches on contemporary issues, to be sure, but without the tiresome didactics to which lesser series fall prey.
Beyond all of that, the tight Reagan family bonds create emotional arcs that hold the viewer’s attention more closely than any storyline. To be sure, portraying healthy nuclear families is older than Leave it to Beaver. But showing the dogged work that goes into creating and maintaining a close-knit multi-generational family in a modern urban world is something only a decade-long series could do, and it is a brilliant accomplishment. (As a side-note, how deliberately subversive was it to choose the name “Reagan” in 2010?)
After an uneven first few episodes, the show relaxed into a comforting and almost liturgical feel, with a sweeping aerial shot of New York City immediately after the opening credits and with each episode containing a Sunday dinner at which attendance by all family members is obligatory. Goldberg reportedly had to fight CBS executives to keep the latter element, but it quickly became the show’s iconic …read more
Via:: American Conservative
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