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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2010-2011 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
BLUE BLOODS (CBS)
(written by Mitchell Burgess & Robin Green; directed by Michael Cuesta; TRT: 43:28)
The network's description: "BLUE BLOODS is a drama about a multi-generational family of cops dedicated to New York City law enforcement. Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) is the New York Chief of Police and patriarch of the Reagan brood, which he heads as diplomatically as he does the force, even when dealing with the politics that plagued his unapologetically bold father, Henry (Len Cariou), during his stint as Chief. A source of pride and concern for Frank is his eldest son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), a seasoned detective, family man and Iraqi War vet who on occasion uses dubious tactics to solve cases. The sole Reagan woman in the family, Erin (Bridget Moynahan), is a N.Y. Assistant D.A. and newly single parent, who also serves as the legal compass for her siblings and father.
Jamie (Will Estes) is the youngest Reagan, fresh out of Harvard Law and the family's "golden boy." However, unable to deny the family tradition, Jamie decided to give up a lucrative future in law and is now a newly minted cop, a career change seemingly supported by his beautiful girlfriend, Sydney Davenport (Dylan Moore), a first year lawyer. Jamie's life takes an abrupt turn, however, when he's asked to become part of a clandestine police investigation even his father knows nothing about, and one that could impact the family's legacy. Emmy Award winners Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green and Leonard Goldberg are executive producers for CBS Television Studios."
What did they leave out? It was originally known as simply "Reagan's Law."
The plot in a nutshell: It's graduation day at the New York City Police Academy. For the Reagans though, today also marks the beginning of another chapter in the family's law enforcement legacy: Jamie (Will Estes), the youngest of said clan, will be sworn in as one of New York's Finest at Madison Square Garden. His brother, Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), is a detective. His father Frank (Tom Selleck) is the Chief of Police, having just taken over for his father, Henry (Len Cariou). And while his sister Erin (Bridget Moynahan) isn't a cop, she's a sister-in-arms at the District Attorney's office.
But amongst all the happiness is an air of somberness: it wasn't too long ago that the family buried Joe, Danny and Jamie's brother, who was killed in the line of duty. It's a fact not lost on Jamie's fiancee, Sydney (Dylan Moore), who smiles through gritted teeth for her man who just graduated Harvard Law only to give it up to become a beat cop. Sydney isn't the only one with fears and worries: the mayor (Bruce Altman) warns Frank he's on the hot seat as New York's top cop, his father having pariahed himself not long ago; while Danny hasn't been the same since returning home from Iraq.
All of the above however takes a backseat when a nine-year-old girl (Alexandria Suarez) is kidnapped walking home from school and Danny catches the case. He and his partner DeMarcus (Flex Alexander) quickly find the culprit but due to Danny's aggressive tactics, the man ends up walking. Said development draws Erin's ire as she must now clean up Danny's mess and a family-wide rift is opened about what methods are appropriate in their jobs. Meanwhile, Jamie is shown the ropes by his training officer (Nicholas Turturro), who did the same for Joe. There he's approached by the FBI, who explain the truth behind Joe's death and how he can avenge it - only his father can't know what's going on.
What works: It's a good-but-not-great procedural, one that often coasts on the charms of its obviously wonderful cast. The show is actually at its best on the homefront as Sunday dinners pick at old scars and create new ones, while siblings, spouses and parents struggle to connect despite their mutually acknowledged pain. Selleck not surprisingly is a more than welcome presence, giving an appropriate gravitas to the proceedings, while Cariou is likewise a hoot - a proudly uncensored man who's long since abandoned playing the political game at home and on the job. The rest of the ensemble also shows promise, including Amy Carlson as Danny's wife.
What doesn't: "Blue Bloods" in general just doesn't have that "oomph" I was hoping for considering the aforementioned pedigree. The central case is pretty ho-hum as various artificial clocks (the missing girl is diabetic and will die if she doesn't get her shot in time!) can't quite amp up the drama while the resulting debate around "enhanced interrogation techniques" is a hodgepodge of talking points from both sides, an argument that's loaded in the "pro" direction as obviously it worked. And while some subplots show promise - Joe-now-Jamie's "Blue Templar" investigation, Danny's psychological issues - others, such as Frank dating a reporter (Wendy Moniz) or a fellow cadet (Chanel Farrell) who's a little too chummy with Jamie, aren't exactly screaming to be explored. All in all, while I enjoy each of the Reagans, I can't say I'm thrilled about the methods by which weren't getting to know them. If anything, this is a wait-and-see kind of show as should things start to click...
The bottom line: ...this could be on the cusp of something great.