Judge P.S. Colbert's blood runs black and blue.
"Bonds will be tested."
Late on a Sunday evening, in the privacy of his home, New York City Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck, Ike: Countdown To D-Day), tells his father Henry—a former New York City Police Commissioner (Len Cariou, Into The Storm) that he needs a favor. Frank's got a driver waiting outside to take his father into New Jersey, where he wants him to meet with his "old friends…the retired brass old-boys network," and apply his "old school methods."
Puzzled by all the ceremony, Henry mentions the advanced hour and asks if he couldn't just settle things with a phone call, but his son is adamant that the meeting must be face-to-face: "no phone records, no e-mails, nothing."
"Pop, I've given over 40 years to law enforcement," Frank explains. "The victim in this is a good man who would fall on his sword for my department. If I wanna go out on a limb to protect him, let them take a couple of bricks out of my house in Cop Heaven."
Yep, the Empire State's Irish-Catholic cop mafia familia is back, front and center in twenty-three episodes of Blue Bloods: The Third Season:
• "Family Business"
O.K., let's review: You know Henry and Frank, the father/son, former/current Police Commissioner team, now let's meet the rest of the family: Frank's sons, Danny (Donnie Wahlberg, Righteous Kill) and Jamie (Will Estes, The Dark Knight Rises) serve on the force as a detective and a patrolman, respectively, while middle daughter Erin (Bridget Moynahan, Ramona And Beezus) serves as Assistant D.A. With so many high-octane careers in play, you might suspect the Reagans almost never see one another, but that's not the case: each and every Sunday, the big, clannish brood (including children and in-laws) gathers together for morning mass and evening supper.
If you're somehow able to move past this entirely implausible premise, you're in for some irresistible programming. To give credit where it's due, the writers seem to have been working overtime this season to make the Reagan's lives a bit less of what Woody Allen once called "incurably wonderful."
Jamie earns three days suspension for going rogue cop. Erin must deal with the unwelcome reappearance of her ex-husband Jack (Peter Hermann, In The Family), and the hyper-speed blossoming of her sixteen year old daughter, Nicky (Sami Gayle, Detachment). Henry gets mugged and pistol-whipped. Frank, of course, has the responsibility of the world on his shoulders, not to mention the ever-contentious Mayor Carter Poole (David Ramsey, Mother And Child) on his back. For the record, Poole is a polished, photogenic black man who tends to obsess about poll numbers and often waffles at decision time—then again, what other kind of mayor would plague a hero named Reagan?!
Naturally, the lion's share of trouble falls on that hot-headed trouble-magnet, Danny. Economic woes force his wife Linda (Amy Carlson, Law and Order: Trial By Jury) back to work, their son Sean (Andrew Terraciano) hangs by a thread onto life after a bicycle accident, and Danny himself gets busted with two kilos of cocaine in his trunk on a routine traffic stop! So…how's by you?
All this crisis within the family calls for outside backup, and Blue Bloods: The Third Season gets plenty of it, with a cadre of solid semi-regulars including Gregory Jbara (Broken City) and Abigail Hawk (Body Of Proof) as the Commissioner's staff, Nicholas Turturro (NYPD Blue) as Sgt. Renzulli, Jamie's training officer, and Robert Clohessy (Oz) as Sgt. Gormley, Danny's immediate superior.
There's one sour note this season: the abrupt and unwanted exit of Jennifer Esposito, in the role of Danny's partner, Detective Jackie Curatola. The story goes that Eposito's failing health (due to Celiac disease) mandated that she limit her work schedule, and CBS refused to accommodate her. Ms. Esposito appears in the first four episodes, and returns for a coda (where Curatola informs Danny that she's "taking a leave of absence") in the final minutes of episode seven. For my money, the (platonic) relationship of Danny and Curatola was the show's heart, and frankly, I was certain the series wouldn't survive the split.
Fortunately, I was wrong. Danny spent the remainder of the season in the company of three other—young and beautiful—partners, all of whom performed admirably (Reportedly, Marisa Ramirez will reprise her role as Detective Maria Baez for next season), though it will be some time before I stop praying that Curatola returns to active duty.
You might think that, with the sheer volume of regular and semi-regulars streaming through, that there might not be room for special guest appearances, but no less than Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Color Of Money), Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos), Carolyn McCormick (Whatever Works), Sebastian Sozzi (Half Nelson), Megan Ketch (Big Wedding), and Megan Boone (Step Up: Revolution 3D) are among the distinguished visitors adding luster to the proceedings, which involve the usual suspects: mobsters, gang-bangers, racists, rapists, designer drugs, domestic batterers, and one highly unusual suspect—Hurricane Sandy.
Paramount's crack TV division has faithfully preserved this superbly acted, picture-perfect family/crime drama with a mint set of anamorphic transfers, set to 5.1. surround or stereo sound; whatever your set-up can handle.
There are almost too many bonus features to handle. Aside from audio commentary on select episodes and a hat trick of featurettes ("The Story of the Reagans, Season 3," "Dinner with the Reagans," and "Growing Up Reagan"), there's a "Exclusive Set Tour," and—get this—A gag reel worth watching, and deleted scenes that apparently only hit the editing room floor due to time constraints, because they actually enhance the episodes they were cut from!
While I wouldn't call Blue Bloods the best procedural currently running, it's certainly the hardest working, and that extra elbow grease paid off in spades during its third season. What's more, season three earned the series its first-ever Emmy award nomination (though sadly, the voters ignored guest star Ken Howard's (The White Shadow) heartbreaking portrayal of a former pro-athlete succumbing to Alzheimer's—truly a crime in broad daylight!).
Speaking of Emmy ignorance, when will this organization, allegedly dedicated to recognizing excellence in the television industry formally acknowledge that Donnie Wahlberg is the most under rated actor working in a prime time series today?
That's right, I went there.
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