For the past few months, Bruce and I have been using Friday night TV as an excuse to spend time with my mom; otherwise I might go two weeks without actually laying eyes on her (we do talk by phone almost daily). My husband of the more-fluid schedule actually spends more time with Mom than I do!
At first I watched those shows just because she wanted to. Bruce and I disconnected our TV in 2012, and that decision has been so great that I didn’t want to get hooked on another series (NCIS and an obsession with Law & Order reruns leap to mind). Part of the beauty of canceling satellite is that instead of veg’ing out at our house we’ll go hang with Mom when we just need some down time at the end of a long week.
At first, despite the fact that Blue Bloods stars Tom Selleck (I was a huge Magnum, P.I. fan in the 1980s), I didn’t want to watch. Let’s face it: Frank Reagan is not as hunky and dashing as Thomas Magnum (and, hey, no red Ferrari). It was hard, at first, to see my favorite ’80s star age. And I thought the new Hawaii Five-O was just Friday night filler.
But, as I began getting to know the characters, I realized that these were more than just cop shows. Each one, in its unique way, shows me characters with … well, character.
This is not my father’s Hawaii Five-O (except for the awesome theme song). I used to watch the original series with Dad, although I don’t remember a lot about the original – just the action stuff, which was typical of 1960s and ’70s cop shows. On the new version, character development is prominent and relationships are important: Besides the friendship between the main characters, single dad Danny strives to teach his young daughter right from wrong, even when he fumbles it sometimes; Steve takes his big-brother role seriously in guiding and protecting his sister; and the cops act with integrity – at least the ones who want to stay on the team. 🙂
Integrity is an even bigger theme on Blue Bloods. In fact, I’d go so far as to call it one of the main characters.
It’s the thing I like best about the show.
Set in New York City, the show is about an Irish-Catholic family of law-and-order types. There is NYPD CommissionerFrancis “Frank” Reagan; his father, Henry (former commissioner); sons Danny and Jamie, both NYPD cops; and daughter Erin, an assistant district attorney. Three children and Danny’s wife (a nurse) round out the family. Another of Frank’s cop sons, Joe, was killed in the line of duty. (Not sure whether that happened before the show began or simply before I began watching.)
The most interesting characters to me are the conservative Frank and his liberal granddaughter, Nicky. While their views often differ, they approach things from the same set of values, and an air of mutual respect and love is present in their conversations.
My favorite scene in each episode is Sunday dinnertime. The family members gather around a big table – all nine of them. They begin with a prayer (unfortunately generic and rote, albeit sincere), and the dinner-table rules seem to be “no electronics” and mutual respect (you can tell some ground rules were set a long time ago). The topics can get complex, but there is always an atmosphere of civility and fair play in their interactions.
You can expect the Henry and Danny characters to be hardline, Nicky and Jamie to take a more existential view and Erin to be somewhere in between. Frank wants to be fair and forthright and tends to err on the side of conservative.
I like that the show wrestles with difficult questions – some that, no doubt, the real NYPD has dealt with and still grapples with. I don’t know the realities of New York City’s justice system, but I imagine this show glosses over some of the touchier issues. This is television, after all, and, while I know nothing about the show’s creators or writers, I’m sure they try to avoid controversy.
Every week, Frank, as commissioner, comes up against some type of moral dilemma, and I like watching him wrestle it out. He deals with the press, popular opinion, his PR guy, his granddaughter and sometimes his children, who face dilemmas of their own. I appreciate that the writers include the family’s faith, even though most of the references are subtle.
Not every episode is tied neatly in a bow by the end, but, for the most part, I’m satisfied that Frank either 1) has handled the situation as best he can or 2) will begin looking at it from another perspective and be persuaded by one of his family members (or Garrett, his press guy) to change his mind.
It’s tough being commissioner of the largest police force in the nation. 🙂
A show with perfect characters would be boring, but I’m happy that on Friday nights I have role models to spend a couple of hours with, and this includes my family.
And if I keep watching Five-O, maybe one of these days I’ll hear those words I’ve been waiting for:
TRIVIA QUESTION: Who can tell me which actress has guest starred on both the new Hawaii Five-O (as McGarrett’s aunt) and Magnum, P.I.? (On Magnum, which also was set in Hawaii, her character and Thomas ended up trapped in a bank vault.)
Tomorrow: G is for God.
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