Well cast and crisply executed, "Blue Bloods" offers the smallest of wrinkles on CBS' procedural formula, but it's enough to place the pilot a cut above most of the network's crime fare. Already associated with the network through the Jesse Stone franchise, Tom Selleck returns to episodic form as the patriarch of a clan where crimefighting is the family business, and Sunday dinner can quickly devolve into a heated squabble over whether it's permissible to rough up suspects. If any network newcomer has a shot at working Friday night, it ought to be something like this on CBS.
Opening to the strains of Sinatra belting out "New York, New York" (and there really ought to be a moratorium against that on Manhattan-based shows), the pilot introduces N.Y. Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Selleck) and his former-cop dad (Len Cariou) as they prepare to swear in the latest Reagan to the force, Frank's youngest son Jamie (Will Estes).
The kid is following not just in the footsteps of dad and granddad, however, but also older brother Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), D.A. sis Erin (Bridget Moynahan) and a brother who died on the job.
Created by Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green ("The Sopranos"), "Bloods" dives right in with the ultimate procedural hook: an abducted little girl -- and an insulin-dependent diabetic to boot -- with Danny catching the case, and his father feeling the heat for a resolution.
It's all fairly standard stuff, buoyed by Selleck's authoritative presence and Wahlberg's tough-guy chops -- he's pretty much born to play a cop, having previously done so in "Boomtown." The ticking-clock scenario also establishes Danny as somebody willing to bend the rules -- much to the chagrin of his sister. "Keep it civil," Frank warns when the insults start flying.
"Blue Bloods" also drops bread crumbs hinting at a larger serialized component, which has already produced discord and fueled uncertainty behind the scenes. Producer Ken Sanzel left before the premiere, reportedly over disagreement regarding precisely how the show should proceed in finding the right character-procedural balance.
Although the latter vein is more in CBS' comfort zone, developing these characters in the context of family and big-city politics possesses some promise -- and might be required to make the show a habit, as opposed to a mere "Look, Marge, it's that dreamy Tom Selleck again" diversion.
Thanks to its older audience profile, CBS has enjoyed more success than broadcast competitors Fridays, and even those results have been relatively modest and geriatric. Still, "Blue Bloods" enters this rough neighborhood with the right personnel, and, living up to its name, a solid pedigree.