Like a sat­is­fy­ing Ir­ish stew

Tom Sel­leck plays an NYPD com­mis­sioner in ‘Blue Bloods,’ which prom­ises to be a good cop show and fam­ily drama.

Los Angeles Times - - The Fall TV Season - MARY Mc NA­MARA TELE­VI­SION CRITIC mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

It is im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine a tele­vi­sion land­scape with­out Tom Sel­leck, and for­tu­nately we don’t have to. Al­though in re­cent years he has ap­peared only spo­rad­i­cally, star­ring in the Jesse Stone movie se­ries, guest­star­ring on shows in­clud­ing “Friends” and “Bos­ton Le­gal,” he’s back full time as the pa­ter­fa­mil­ias of CBS’ solid and sat­is­fy­ing cop/fam­ily drama “Blue Bloods.” As some­one who has loved the man for her en­tire adult life, I think I speak for many when I say: How is it pos­si­ble that he still looks so darn good?

Maybe it’s the uni­form. In “Blue Bloods” Sel­leck plays wid­owed New York City Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Frank Rea­gan who, hav­ing al­ready sac­ri­ficed one son to the thin blue line, is about to usher an­other into its ranks. Jamie (Will Estes) left Har­vard Law school to re­place one brother and join an­other — Frank’s el­dest, Danny (Don­nie Wahlberg), is a canny de­tec­tive whose ded­i­ca­tion to jus­tice trumps rules and reg­u­la­tions, putting him at con­stant odds with his sis­ter Erin (Brid­get Moy­na­han), who, as an as­sis­tant D.A., is law to her fam­ily’s or­der.

One could ar­gue, and per­sua­sively, that a show about a fam­ily of Ir­ish cops in New York — Frank’s fa­ther, Henry (played by the in­domitable Len Car­iou). was com­mis­sioner be­fore him — is off by a few decades. But watch­ing the Rea­gans bicker and gos­sip over Sun­day din­ner, one is in­clined to just to set­tle in and en­joy. “Blue Bloods” is meat and pota­toes TV — pre­dictable per­haps but tan­ta­liz­ing and fla­vor­ful nonethe­less.

If the din­ner scenes re­mind you of an­other, darker, show, well, Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess of “The So­pra­nos” are co-cre­ators, and the is­sues of fam­ily and pro­fes­sional codes that an­chored that show also pro­vide the frame­work for this. There, of course, the sim­i­lar­ity ends, since this is net­work cop drama, with a pro­ce­dural at its heart.

In the pi­lot, Danny must leave Jamie’s grad­u­a­tion fes­tiv­i­ties early be­cause a young girl has gone missing. Doused with child-in-peril drama and a tick­ing clock (the girl will die with­out an in­sulin in­jec­tion), it is not a par­tic­u­larly strong in­ves­ti­ga­tion nar­ra­tive, hing­ing on, among other things, an un­be­liev­ably pro­duc­tive in­ter­na­tional phone call. But it serves to set up the show’s larger themes — Danny’s ser­vice in Iraq has left him emo­tion­ally volatile, Frank has en­e­mies in high places, and Erin is not just the sole fe­male of the tribe, she’s the only one who ques­tions the su­per­cop men­tal­ity.

Jamie, mean­while, must cope not only with his girl­friend’s mixed re­ac­tion to his join­ing the force but also the pos­si­bil­ity that his brother’s death was not what it seemed. (And that his fa­ther is dat­ing!) It’s cer­tainly fer­tile ground, and those work­ing it are pros. Sel­leck and Car­iou, like the char­ac­ters they play, set the bar high as men who have seen enough sor­row to ap­pre­ci­ate the small joys. Mean­while, Wahlberg’s frus­trated, be­wil­dered rage is con­vinc­ing, Moy­na­han nails the only-girl’s mix­ture of en­ti­tle­ment and bit­ter­ness, and as Jamie, Estes pro­vides the viewer’s en­trance into a sus­pi­cious and sus­pect­ing world.

If it pulls off what it seems ca­pa­ble of do­ing, “Blue Bloods” should be both a good cop show and an evoca­tive fam­ily drama. So some­thing for ev­ery­one, just like a good Sun­day din­ner.

Heather Wines

FORCE TO BE RECK­ONED WITH: New York Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Frank Rea­gan (Tom Sel­leck) wel­comes son Jamie (Will Estes) into the pro­fes­sion.

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