Most cop dramas have the insight to know that, without some kind of gimmick, they’re just a dime a dozen, trafficking in stereotypes that are so ubiquitous they affect even the outliers in the genre. You’re familiar with these tropes and caricatures. You can’t click the remote without hitting one: good guys vs. bad guys, the noble cop, the corrupt cop, the seemingly-corrupt cop who is actually noble and vice-versa, the arrogant cop whose cockiness is justified because he’s always right on the money, the sexy cop, the smooth-talking cop, the good cop / bad cop routine.

But what about the family of cops? That’s the kind of “fresh” twist on a tired formula that the show Blue Bloods, which stars Donnie Wahlberg and features Tom Selleck, is introducing to CBS’s Friday night lineup. Three generations of New York City law enforcement officers comprise the characters in the show, which emphasizes the pride behind the profession through the family’s legacy. The “Blue Bloods” in question are the Reagans, beginning with retired officer Henry (Len Cariou), the patriarch of the crew, and his son, Police Commissioner Frank (Selleck), a stand-up kind of guy at the center of a tug-of-war between the incumbent mayor and his upcoming challenger, the District Attorney. Of course the show never fails to remind us that Reagan is too principled to be the type of guy anyone can hold in his pocket. And he has tried to instill the same kind of morals in his children: the macho Danny (Wahlberg) who sometimes
teeters on that precarious edge of corruption, the rookie Jamie (Will Estes) who wants to get ahead but can’t get past the enormous chip on his shoulder, and the only daughter, Assistant District Attorney Erin (Bridget Moynahan), whose boss describes her as all “high heels and brass knuckles.”

Although this tight-knit crew (who spend so much time at grandpa’s house that I haven’t yet figured out if they all live there) seems to be squeaky clean professionally speaking, they’ve got some shadows lurking around them, including a dead brother who was – believe it or not – a cop who was killed in the line of duty years before. Their relationships are also riddled with insecurities and tensions, but they are lucky enough to have their sagacious grandpa there to
help diffuse their petty quarrels and fortify their moments of doubts with tales of their father’s courage on the job when he, too, was just a green NYPD officer. Even when their morals are compromised and their ambitions prove too lofty, they can still sit around their family dinner table for an elaborate Sunday meal while the women express gratitude about not having to cook this week! Then they can all have a good laugh.

Though Donnie Wahlberg was born to play a cop, and Tom Selleck portrays a great aging complacent guy, the rest of the cast delivers lines like they’re in a high school play, and they rely on stereotypes when plumbing the depths of their characters, which, in all fairness, is probably all that’s necessary for the scope of this show. Blue Bloods is your typical police show with a little bit of The Brady Brunch sprinkled in. There may be strung out, thieving, murdering madmen out there on the streets but everything is warm and cozy at grandpa’s house. This show needs to decide if it wants to be gritty or wholesome, because right now it’s just another cop drama that needed to find a gimmick to get started.

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