Thursday, March 24, 2016

"A Show I Watch Although It's Not Groundbreaking"

When it comes to television viewing options, Blue Bloods is hardly my “Oh boy!” selection.  But I watch it.  Entertained.  Intrigued by its professionalism.  And somewhat ashamed, as I realize I could be doing more productive things with my time. 

Full Disclosure:  Watching Blue Bloods does not come close to matching my absolute “low point” in self-destructively throwing my life away, which occurred when, years ago living in Canada, I found myself watching a broadcast of French-Canadian bowling.

That was the one time in my life I recall turning the television off in disgust, and giving myself a serious talking-to. 

To ultimate zero effect, it turned out. 

Although I never watched French-Canadian bowling again.

But still…

When Time-Warner Cable’s “Channel 30” – whatever that is – offers a “Blue Bloods Marathon”, and there is no competing “Law & Order Marathon” on “Channel 42” –  then I’ll tune in. 

Although Blue Bloods holds my attention, though I have actually heard myself wondering, “Am I really watching this?” while I am watching it, and I am talking about three or four episodes in a row.  Artistically, however, for me, Blue Bloods is the epitome of formulaic contrivance. 

Though not entirely in a terrible way.  (You see how I rationalize watching it?  “How can it be terrible?  I’m an audience member!”) 


Starting with the title…

“Blue”… because it’s a police show.  “Bloods” because the lead characters are from the same family.  So they’re connected by blood. 

Ta-da – but with little enthusiasm – “Blue Bloods.”

The Reagan family’s – they’re Irish, policing being a traditional Irish career track – you can count the clichés as we go along – the family patriarch was a New York cop who ultimately rose to the lofty rank of Police Commissioner.  His son, also a cop, also ultimately rose to the lofty rank of Police Commissioner.  As if the job were hereditary.  It isn’t.  It’s just contractually obligatory.

The current Commissioner produced four offspring – three boys, one of them an armored, rules-averse police detective, the sensitive youngest a street cop, and a third son, a Manhattan detective killed “in the line of duty” before the series began.  Their sister is an Assistant D.A., part of, as the Law & Order “intro” calls it, a separate but equally important group. 

There you have it.  Six family members.  In the same line of work.  None of them went into show business, architecture or aluminum siding.  Making it as artificial as any series setup I have ever experienced since Bonanza, in which “Pa Cartwright” had three sons, born to three different women who subsequently all died.  Leading me to wonder, “Why would anyone marry ‘Pa Cartwright’?”

Okay, so there’s this improbable situation.  Six family members – well one’s dead and the patriarch is retired although he never shies away from chiming in during the obligatory “Sunday dinners” included in every episode.  Where the greatest suspense involves which one of them is going to say “Grace.”

You know, when you think about it – a family, all in the crime business – Blue Bloods is like the “Mafia with ‘Good Guys’.” (I wonder if the writers imagine it that way, thinking “Mafia”, and then doing it backwards.)

The show’s stories are not all that different from Law & Order – I cannot believe the proliferation of Soviet sex traffickers.  But because of the severe bunching together of their work responsibilities, with issues of possible favoritism, “boundary invasions” and taking opposite positions on outstanding cases, the city’s murders, rapes and kidnappings seem to take “second position” to how they deleteriously affect the Reagans.

Leaving you with a show less about crime solving than about how Manhattan mayhem threatens the cohesion of a loyal and loving Irish family.


That’s exactly how it goes, week in and week-out.  Or if you’re binge-watching, every hour on the hour.

Why do I watch Blue Bloods?

I don’t know, inertia?

Okay, there’s Tom Selleck, as the Dad and current Police Commissioner.  Tom Selleck is a certifiable television star – sturdy, appealing, dependable.  The man captures your attention.  Think”:  James Garner, but with the mustache.

The rest of the cast is solid.  Although, admitted, after continual watching, a kind of “Stockholm Syndrome” sets in.  You spend a lot of time with people, you eventually think they’re okay.

The writing is efficient without standing out – winning arguably a “check mark” for not showing off.   The “Quotability Factor” is minimal.  With one sparkling exception.
After Selleck’s Public Relations Director gets tangled up with a Vegas “Call girl” he was unaware was a Vegas “Call Girl”, Selleck ironically inquires,

“Did you ever think you were punching above your weight and all your punches were landing?”
A memorable “phrase-turning”.  Otherwise – not The West Wing.

I think I like Blue Bloods for the same reason I like television.

It satisfactorily passes the time.

That answer may not exactly have been worth waiting for.  But it is the best I can come up with at the moment. 

Stay tuned for eventual upgrades. 

Although the foregoing may possibly survive.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

I'll see your French-Canadian bowling and raise you English darts.


Candy Cummings said...

Watched the World Wrist Wrestling Championships? It used to be on Wide World of Sports, but isn't any more. Still being staged in Petaluma, CA, in October.

Is there a difference between French-Canadian bowling and uh, bowling?

Because Tom Selleck is the lead and Bridget Moynahan gets screen time (but not enough) and there's no competition in that time slot, I too will watch Blue Bloods. No, stories aren't groundbreaking, but what show is?

Wayne said...

I've seen every Blue Bloods. My favorite episode. The one where just by coincidence, all family members have to pitch in to solve a case. That one was great.