Oscar & Emmy Watch: Musings & Misgivings: Blue Bloods
There have been a handful of long-ago significant exceptions along the way (Dallas, The Rockford Files, Miami Vice and The Brady Bunch among them), but generally speaking, Friday night, in terms of viewer numbers, is a graveyard for TV shows.
Yes, it is marginally better broadcasting real estate than Saturday night but that’s not saying much. So what’s a network to do when it suddenly strikes ratings (and critical) gold with a Friday show—as, for example, CBS did in the fall of 1990 with a little number titled CSI, which became the first TV crime series ever to be No. 1 in the Nielsen charts (and explains why it continues to spin off a seemingly unending parade of other CSI hours?)
As in the case of the original CSI, it quickly expanded its audience by moving it to another night, and while the official network line at present is that there are no plans to shift the Tom Selleck drama Blue Bloods, don’t bet against it. The series is just too artfully written, performed, directed and photographed (in New York), and it along with Selleck—whose one and only Emmy came more than 25 years ago for Magnum P.I. —will not likely be forgotten when it comes to end-of-season nominations.
The show handlers (and writers) Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green —yet two more veterans of The Sopranos who have gone on to a follow-up success—like to describe the multi-generational Blue Bloods as an ensemble family series melded with a police procedural, and there’s something to that. But the greater truth is that Selleck—as widowed Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, whose sons (played by Donnie Wahlberg and Will Estes are also cops, daughter (Bridget Moynahan) is a prosecuting attorney and own father (Len Cariou) is a former police official—is its wise if somewhat rigid center, investing a commanding multi-layered character with a raw emotional depth that seems to lift the series around him.
Like few other male TV legends (only James Garner comes to mind), Selleck’s easy charm, a mix of humor and vulnerability, has largely defined his three-decade-plus durability as a star. He never really got his due on the big screen (check out, in particular, a terrific performance in Quigley Down Under and wonderful comedic turns in 3 Men and a Baby and In & Out), but charisma together with fan loyalty goes a long way and now, in Blue Bloods, we’re reminded once again of just how accomplished an actor he is.