Monday, April 4, 2011

JWTV Quickie: Blue Bloods - "To Tell the Truth"

     To be honest, I was growing a little bored with CBS's Blue Bloods. Despite a strong cast and some unique perspectives, it is basically a procedural drama. Some episodes have gone outside the procedural, but with no mention of Jamie's (Will Estes) investigation of the secret society his brother was involved in for some time, several episodes have been pretty much entirely based on Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) and Jackie's (Jennifer Esposito) case of the week. Procedurals are what CBS does best, and many people find the format great, making those shows popular. But giving viewers the same thing every week gets boring for others, myself included, so I don't usually watch them.
     The latest episode, "To Tell The Truth", is an exception, however. Danny is going to testify against a drugpin, so the man's goons kidnap Danny's wife, Linda (Amy Carlson). The adult Reagans all scramble to find her, even as they keep news of her abduction from the media and Danny and Linda's children. Stakes are high, and when a female body is found, I briefly wondered if the writers are going to kill her off. After all, Jackie could be a suitable replacement love interest for Danny, though it's a little early in the show's run to start taking out spouses. Thankfully, Linda is recovered safe and sound, and Danny makes sure the durg kingpin goes away.

     One way to raise the stakes on a show like this is to put the central family in danger. I am thrilled to watch Danny's frantic search for Linda, and how his family and partner help him. But do it too often, and it becomes corny and annoying. Frank (Tom Selleck) is shot a few episodes ago, and last fall someone tries to kill Erin (Bridget Moynahan). Plus, brother Joe is dead before the series begins. Is this the unluckiest family on the planet? Yes, their line of work is dangerous, but not this dangerous. It even pushes TV reality. Taken alone, this episode was great. Added with those other dangers, it points to a disturbing pattern, considering the series hasn't even completed one season yet. I hope the twist will be used more sparingly in the future, and the series finds other ways to get interesting.

     Also, while I love Danny's plot, I wish this would have been a two parter. There is other rich story that gets shoved to the side and barely acknowledged. Jamie provides an important clue that helps Danny find Linda, but Jamie's reveal scene is brief, and we don't see him work to find out the information. Erin takes down a mole within the prosecuter's office, but again, we only see the arrest, not the work behind it. I want to see what Frank is doing, as I know he is using connections to do what he can. I could have even taken a scene or two of Henry (Len Cariou) entertaining Danny's kids. So much missed opportunity that could have replaced one of the many rote episodes.

     I still like Blue Bloods enough to keep watching it, but it's teetering on the ledge between great series and medicore drama that's been done before. I hope they can fall off the correct way.

     Blue Bloods airs Friday nights at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.

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