PROGRAMME OF THE WEEK: Blue Bloods
Tuesday, RTE Two, 9.55pm
'Blue Bloods' was one of the big hits of the 2010 autumn schedules in the US, and that's partly down to the commanding central performance of Tom Selleck. Since rising to fame in the early 1980s with the jovial crime show 'Magnum PI', Selleck has remained a much-loved but criminally underused star.
His talent for romantic comedy has never been properly utilised, but it's his flair for heavier and more dramatic roles that's on display here, as he plays the grizzled patriarch of a dynasty of New York cops.
He plays Frank Reagan, the city's police chief, and a career public servant. He served in Vietnam with the Marines before returning to follow his father into the NYPD, and three out of four of his own children have become cops as well. His eldest son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is an NYPD detective, his youngest son Jamie (Will Estes) has just joined the force, and his daughter Erin (Bridget Moynahan) is a Manhattan district attorney who prosecutes many of the felons her siblings collar.
Sounds like the perfect lawenforcing family, but there's tragedy behind the scenes in the Reagan clan, and more than a few secrets too.
Frank's middle son, Joe, was recently killed in the line of duty, and it emerges that he may have been part of an FBI investigation into a group of dirty cops who called themselves the Blue Templar. The implication that Joe may have been killed by a fellow officer will send shock waves through the law-enforcement community, and meanwhile Frank has a secret of his own.
A widower, he's been dating a younger blonde newspaper reporter called Kelly Davidson (Andrea Roth), a potentially compromising fact of which none of his family are aware. Then there's Danny, a seemingly upstanding family man and dedicated cop, but who sometimes uses questionable methods to get results.
Filmed in New York and surrounding boroughs, 'Blue Bloods' has a gritty feel that reminds one of classic 1980s cop shows such as 'Hill Street Blues'. But it's also a kind of soap opera with an ensemble cast of strong and complex characters whose stories are skilfully interweaved through the episodes.
Frank Reagan is a great character, a decent character with enough foibles and failings to make him believably human.
He's a little old-fashioned too: when a journalist asks him about blog allegations that his department works harder at solving murder cases in the wealthy Upper East Side than in homicides in poorer neighbourhoods, he is dismissive.
"You really want to give credence to any amateur blogger with a laptop?" he says.
'Blue Bloods' gets great mileage out of the political minefield that the police chief has to negotiate daily, and edgy topics such as police brutality and corruption are also explored. The show has been commissioned for a second series, so it's worth getting involved in.
In this opening episode, Jamie's life takes a tricky turn when he's asked to become part of a clandestine police investigation that even his father knows nothing about.