10.08 million viewers
What it is: A CBS drama about a family of New York City cops, led by Tom Selleck as the Police Commissioner. In this episode, Danny investigates the killing of an outspoken black reverend’s young son, Jamie shoots a would-be mugger who turns out to be the son of another cop, and a private prison van crashes in the city.
Whenever police were portrayed, particularly in film and television, particularly in television, they were not only unequivocally heroic, not really honorable or functional, or competent, but they cared. They cared. You know the greatest lie, the thing I never saw happen at any crime scene in Baltimore when I was out there following [cops], or reporting on stuff, the thing I never saw in their demeanor in the squad room, which I encountered a lot of, was these sort of, um, “Oh, my God, what a waste, what a human tragedy.” Why would they? It’s complete [b——-]… I was going into the assembly line of urban violence, which is, “We do this two out of every three nights, and it’s not a big deal.”
That “what a human tragedy” attitude exactly captures the look on Donnie Wahlberg’s face when his character realizes that the victim at his crime scene is the straight-arrow son of a black minister, and it’s Blue Bloods in a nutshell. This is a very earnest show about cops who care very much about their job, all the time. For the most part there are two types of cop stories: Fantasies of authoritarian power, and fantasies of that power being wielded by good people to good ends. Blue Bloods is the latter, and even if it’s not realistic, I’ll say again that it’s the preferable of the two.
I also want to note that a supporting character in this episode is named Kenny Becker, which is also the name of the protagonist of Richard Price’s Ladies’ Man, one of my favorite books. I doubt it’s an intentional reference but that’d be cool if it was.