Monday, 13 June 2011

Blue Bloods - Series 1 [Review]

What struck me most in the four months I’ve been watching Blue Bloods (on a weekly basis as per the limits of Sky TV’s viewing schedule) was how inherently the scripts, week in, week out, bled with typical American morals and values.

There’s the average American family: four generations, tighter knit than your annual Christmas sweater, all in virtually the same profession, aspiring to be ‘just like dad’. Then there are the weekly dinners, a custom of each episode, during which the adults discuss some kind of moral crisis threatening the NYPD (or New York Police Department for the uninitiated), the city, religion or the family itself, whilst the kids sit in blissful ignorance. These themes are threaded through the entire series; most of all, Tom Selleck’s character as ‘man of the house’ Police Commissioner Francis Reagan, acting the moral compass - a man of few words, Frank’s throne is indeed atop the highest moral ground known to man.

And while this blatant attempt to thrust a shiny, gleaming representation of the typical American family into the consciousness of its audience might be considered brazen and unabashed of Blue Bloods’ scriptwriters, the show’s ability to simultaneously handle modern and real threats in the form of criminal activity in North America’s most widely-known city, New York, whilst at the same time managing to keep such a high moral standard, must be appraised.

Throughout the series such issues as drug use, paedophilia, serial murder and rape are drawn upon and discussed, while socio-economic values of class differences in 21st Century USA are in equal amounts exposed and torn apart. This contrasting nature helps to keep the show vibrant and modern whilst reinforcing traditional American culture, with great effect. The format of Blue Bloods is typical in its form as a police drama - but it’s the backbone of the Reagan family that makes it unique.

From 14-year old Nicole (Sami Gayle) to retired Police Commissioner Henry (Len Cariou), the Reagans are a charismatic bunch. Character development over the series is commendable; the main family member Danny, a leading Detective, whom most of the episodes revolve around, is well portrayed as the strong, dependable hero by Donnie Wahlberg (yes, brother of Mark). Over the course of the series, we see Danny go from incredible highs to equally incredible lows - perhaps the most morally temperamental character in the show, Danny’s flashes of anger make for a far more interesting narrative than many of the subplots involved in Blue Bloods.

For instance, there's that of Jamie, who attempts to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of his brother Joe (whom, it should go without saying, was also a cop), though seems to do so at such a slow pace he might as well be going backwards. Surprisingly, even Frank’s (Selleck) subplots become less interesting as the series goes on; the incessant ‘moral good deeds’ theme that overrules so many of Frank’s adventures as Police Commissioner becomes increasingly more tiresome.

It’s lucky, then, that these are indeed just subplots. The main storylines of Blue Bloods’ twenty two episodes, however, are each as gripping as the next; from the senseless murder of a homeless war veteran by upper class snobs to even the kidnap of one of the Reagans, all the classic conventions of the police drama are replete throughout the series. And it’s this that’ll keep you coming back time and time again.

Where Blue Bloods’ unique selling point shows signs of weaknesses, so do the more typical conventions of the show prevail. It might not be in the family scene that you find a liking for this show; certainly, it adds to the character development, but ultimately it’s the characters themselves, driven both by said family orientation and their own backgrounds, portrayed by a superb cast, that really drive the backbone of Blue Bloods to become what it is - a heart-warming, gripping and deep police drama. Roll on the second series!

See also: The Chicago Code (2011)

Creator(s): Mitchell Burgess, Robin Green
Cast: Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan
USA, 2010-Present

Synopsis: Police Commissioner Frank Reagan heads up not just the NYPD, but also a family of law enforcers. Issues of morality, ethics, family, religion, politics and more bind and come between the tight-knit family, in more ways than one...


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