Chris Hicks: 'Blue Bloods' is a show with genuine depth

Published: Thursday, Jan. 13 2011 4:00 p.m. MST

CBS is shaking up its TV schedule again, and one show that has been getting pushed around is a favorite in my house, "Blue Bloods."

Off the air since early December during an extended Christmas/New Year's layover, "Blue Bloods" returns with new episodes beginning next week.

However, the network isn't making it easy for fans. The show is switching to Wednesdays (9 p.m., Ch. 2) — but only for four weeks. Then it's scheduled to return to its original Friday slot. Got that?

In many ways, "Blue Bloods" is a fairly typical TV cop show. The setting is New York. The main characters are the seasoned/world-weary police chief, a homicide detective who bends the rules where necessary, a na?e rookie beat cop and a beautiful female prosecuting attorney.

The criminal story lines are contrived to include all or most of these people each week. And the cases so far have covered turf that is familiar to viewers of any of the "Law & Orders" or "CSIs" or myriad other police-procedural television series.

But in this show, they are all members of the same family — a family that has included cops for several generations.

And I have been continually surprised — in a very pleasant way — by two running story threads that have really grown on me, and which give this show some genuine depth: subplots about family solidarity and others that demonstrate these are faithful, churchgoing Catholics.

Not that all of the show's politics are conservative, even if the family name is Reagan. Both sides of most issues are discussed, and family talk around the dinner table can become heated.

But at the head of that table is Tom Selleck, as Manhattan's police commissioner and the de facto (if not literal) head of this appealing, feisty family.

Selleck is the reason my wife and I began watching.

I know most people love him for "Magnum, P.I.," and I enjoyed that show, too, though I was never a regular viewer. It's been Selleck's growth as an actor since then in cable-TV movies (especially the Westerns), a few feature films (especially the Australian Western "Quigley Down Under") and his recent string of TV movies as world-weary small-town police chief Jesse Stone that have made us appreciate Selleck as a national treasure.

So when we read that he was starring in a new cop show, for us it was a no-brainer; we're there.

As it turns out, Selleck isn't the "star" as such, but he is certainly the anchor of a terrific ensemble cast, and he's still a good reason to watch every week.

But he's not the only reason. The rest of the cast is good, too.

Donnie Wahlberg plays oldest son Danny, a tough cop who seems in danger of crossing the line; Bridget Moynahan is his sister Erin, an assistant district attorney; and Will Estes is baby brother Jamie, who was on track to become a lawyer but at the last minute decided to join the family business.

Selleck is his sons' boss, a widower living in the family home with his father, Henry (Len Cariou), a retired cop who brings "the old days" into conversation to help put modern police work into perspective.

Also on hand are Jennifer Esposito as Wahlberg's partner, Nicholas Turturro as Estes' partner, Amy Carlson as Danny's wife and others.

One of the show's conceits is that this large family gathers around the dinner table each Sunday, which allows the subject of that week's plot to be discussed and sometimes argued.

So far they've gotten into profiling, legalizing drugs and the use of force by officers on the street, among other topical subjects.

This dinnertime table talk sounds like something that could get old but it's been handled so well that it's often a highlight.

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