Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett


Tom Selleck continues to lead a strong cast in the 2014 fall season of the CBS Friday night drama, “Blue Bloods” – which this week celebrated filming of its 100th episode. With aplomb, Selleck as Francis “Frank” Reagan, plays the commissioner of the New York City Police Department and patriarch of an Irish-American family which tackles moral dilemmas with the kind of character that helped build and define America. Throughout the show the Reagans come together and air their differences while struggling with their personal moral compasses at the family dinner table – their father seated at one end and their grandfather/great-grandfather, a retired NYPD commissioner, Henry Reagan played by Len Cariou, seated at the opposite end.

Frank and Henry are both widowers. They and Frank’s son Danny, who is married with two young sons and played by Donnie Wahlberg, are all United States Marine Corps veterans. Henry served during the Korean War, Frank in Vietnam and Danny in Iraq.

In one of my favorite episodes, aired on October 3 and titled “Second Chances”, in multiple plot lines the Reagans rely on the beliefs with which they have been reared balanced against their own judgement to tackle challenging situations.

Frank must decide whether or not to fire a an old friend, and decorated longtime officer, only months short of retirement. While under the influence of alcohol, Frank’s old friend had accidentally discharged his weapon resulting in a minor injury to his police partner. After weighing all the factors, the highly principled Frank determines the best course of action is to offer his friend, more to the point – this officer, an opportunity to turn in his shield sooner than he wanted to, and retire early –  but honorably.

In the same episode, Frank’s daughter Erin, an assistant district attorney for the city played by Bridget Moynahan, was faced with the wrath of her hot-headed brother Danny – an outstanding NYPD detective – pressuring Erin to pursue further charges in one of his former cases against a young man who had been influenced by gangs and accidentally shot someone. While serving time in prison for his crime, the young man had turned his life around and continued on the straight and narrow following his release.

As the episode began it was eight years after the shooting and at that point, the victim died from complications from the gunshot wound leaving the victim’s father wanting either – “justice” or “revenge”. The victim’s father ends up avenging his son’s death by shooting the young man responsible for the death of the boy. In an excellent scene with Erin and Danny, Erin eloquently and sincerely then asks the young man shot by the boy’s father, if he wants to press charges.

Paraphrasing, Erin asks if a “good person” should be judged by his worst action – an accident in a moment of bad judgement – or be given a second chance?

Last and far from least, the most memorable plot line was executed with another understated yet strong performance from Will Estes as the introspective Jamie Reagan, the youngest of Frank’s children, and a NYPD cop with a Harvard Law School degree. Putting himself at risk, Jamie takes on a hostile bandwagon mentality among other officers ostracizing and berating a female officer after she testified, though rightfully ( and we find out at his father Frank’s request), against her former police partner. Jamie, whose low-key manner makes him easy to take for granted, continues as a symbol of American individualism, and the willingness to – against the tide – stand up for what is right.

In each thought-provoking scenario, the viewer is left to also ponder the circumstances. Good drama. Good TV. Subsequent episodes have continued to deliver solid story lines and performances from the cast that also includes Amy Carlson, Sami Gayle, Tony and Andrew Terraciano, Marisa Ramirez and Vanessa Ray. I must say, I still miss Jennifer Esposito in the role of Danny’s police partner.

From the first season to the current one, an underlying theme is the ongoing agony the Reagan family deals with at the loss of Frank’s middle son, Joe, killed in the line of duty as a NYPD detective. Nonetheless, they remain committed to doing their part for the betterment of society and the country they so love.

It is refreshing to see an American family, though not perfect, portrayed on the television screen in a positive light with depth and substance, displaying the kind of values that built the character of the nation. Of course, with Selleck at the helm one would expect nothing less.