Police procedurals are a dime a dozen these days, so any new crime drama needs a compelling hook. Blue Bloods has two: a three-generation family of policemen and the family name Reagan.
Tom Selleck makes a welcome return to series television as New York City police commissioner Frank Reagan. Selleck imbues the role with quiet strength, covering his inner resolve with the lightest necessary layer of diplomacy, revealing when appropriate shades of the empathy and good-natured relatability that made his Magnum character so appealing in the '80s.
Surrounding Selleck is a strong stable of veteran performers. Donnie Wahlberg portrays Frank's son Danny, an Iraq War veteran turned NYPD detective with a propensity for bending the rules to put criminals behind bars. Frank's daughter Erin (Bridget Moynahan) is the only non-cop in the family, but she proves very useful to them in her capacity as an assistant district attorney. Youngest son Jamie (Will Estes) is a recent Harvard Law School graduate who has a career change of heart and opts to join the NYPD as a rookie beat cop. And then there's Henry (Len Cariou), Frank's father and a retired NYC police commissioner himself.
As an adult-oriented family drama, Blue Bloods' 10 p.m. (Eastern) time slot Fridays on CBS is perfect for parents with young children and no babysitter.
Like other police dramas, Blue Bloods covers familiar ground-rape, a jewelry heist, drug trafficking-but what sets it apart are the engaging and often amusing family dinner-table conversations, in which the Reagans debate topics like the extent of force and rule-bending in the service of justice and the value of diplomatic immunity.
Another signature element of this series is the Reagans' Catholic upbringing and how it informs their decisions and values. Several episodes close with grace at the family dinner table. If its first episodes are a reliable harbinger, Blue Bloods may earn a loyal following.
-Michael Leaser is editor of FilmGrace and an associate of The Clapham Group