Posts Tagged ‘ blue bloods ’

Blue Bloods: Season 3

Blue BloodsI’m struggling to think of a single thing to say about this season that isn’t just a repeat of last year. Actually, why bother – here’s what I said last year.

First up… nothing happened! Of 22 plots and probably a similar number of sub-plots, I only remember a few moments scattered about… I often struggled to remember what was going on in the middle of the episodes, let alone weeks or months later…and if I can’t remember the cases, you can bet your life that I didn’t actually care about any of them.

That would be fine if the cases were just there as a vehicle to bigger stories or character development, but nothing happened on that front either.

I even gave them some helpful hints about how to make the series better – giving the characters new challenges, putting them in different situations, bringing new characters into the family… They obviously decided not to listen to me, because they just puttered along exactly as they did the last two years. In fact, they actually got rid of one of the characters I liked (Danny’s partner) and failed to replace her with a regular character. The Regans need people to challenge them, otherwise they’re just sanctimonious.

So once again I’m left explaining that I watch the series because I love Tom Selleck and because it’s so easy to watch it’s practically wallpaper. Blue Bloods is always there for those times that you have ironing to do and don’t want to spoil one of the shows you actually enjoy by being distracted. It’s continued presence on my todo list next year is only really based on the fact that with CSI:NY finishing, I need to have something mediocre to make ironing bearable

Blue Bloods – Season 2

While you read the following review it’s important to remember that despite the fact that I’m laying into the series, I did watch all 22 episodes. It’s not even that I just caught up on them over the summer when there was nothing better to watch, I actually pretty much stayed on top of the series rarely falling more than an episode behind. But now, I’m going to tell you how the series is rubbish.

First up… nothing happened! Of 22 plots and probably a similar number of sub-plots, I only remember a few moments scattered about; I don’t remember the cases, the victims, the suspects or the twists and turns. I often struggled to remember what was going on in the middle of the episodes, let alone weeks or months later. There was nothing outstanding about any of them, no prominent guest stars and no quirky gimmick cases. And if I can’t remember the cases, you can bet your life that I didn’t actually care about any of them.

That would be fine if the cases were just there as a vehicle to bigger stories or character development, but nothing happened on that front either. There were a couple of attempts at storylines to stretch characters (Jamie’s unlikely undercover adventures, Erin’s weird relationship with an international art thief) but at the end of the day everyone is unchanged; Jamie is still insecure, Danny is still angry all the time, Erin is still uptight. No one has developed, no one’s life is different, they could have gone straight from the pilot to the 44th episode and no one would notice any inconsistencies.

This comes back to something I said in my review of season 1, that the series needs to introduce new characters to generate motion. The relationships with the extended family are the most interesting ones (Danny and his partner Jackie, Jamie and his mentor Renzulli, Frank and his aides Baker and Garrett) but they are isolated from the rest of the group. Frank, Jamie or Erin needs to bring someone home to meet the family, something, anything needs to bring some life into the group because otherwise they’re just having the same arguments over and over again and it’s dull.

So if the series is so mediocre, why do I keep watching? The biggest thing it has in its favour is that it’s a very easy show to watch. I don’t have to pay much attention to keep track (frankly from the pre-title sequence I can map out the rest of the episode with moderate success), so it’s a perfect show to put on while ironing, baking, or even catching up on email. The fact that it isn’t very engaging actually works in its favour.

The second reason is that I keep hoping it will get better, because it has all the ingredients that it could do so. The concept is a solid one and New York is a beautiful and varied city to film in.. The cast is superb, they’re fighting against the awful writing with all their hearts and dragging some depth out of it against stupendous the odds. I like watching these people, I singled out Tom Selleck last season, and he and his moustache are still superb, but I came to appreciate the whole cast this year. Len Cariou is wonderful as the curmudgeonly elder statesman of the family with slightly outdated views, Jennifer Esposito and Amy Carlson are perfect foils for Danny as his partner and wife respectively, they bring a calmness and centre, but are also more than capable of shouting and fighting when necessary. The siblings (Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan and Will Estes) all manage to find points of humour and connections that make them genuinely believable as a family. But I always feel that these great performances are despite of, rather than because of the writing.

The series needs to do something, change something, have its characters grow. They chickened out of opportunities this year (Erin’s job in the mayor’s office, Frank’s relationship with the reporter, Jamie’s undercover which didn’t seem to go anywhere), but without doing something interesting, this show is doomed to be an ‘ironing show’, which is a waste of a great concept and a talented ensemble.

2010-2011 – New Shows

I watched 30ish pilots this year, most of which I gave full reviews of. Last year I did 27 and this year most of the extra ones come from some random British series that I watched but didn’t pick up. Even with giving up on comedy pilots for the most part it was still a bit of a slog frankly with an awful lot of mediocrity out there.

Things I watched:

  • Blue Bloods – Frankly not very good – an interesting concept, but badly written. Just saved by the wonderful Tom Selleck
  • Downton Abbey – excellent fun, perfect for Sunday evening family viewing
  • Game of Thrones – Very entertaining and an impressive production
  • Mad Dogs – A great cast in a relatively mediocre production, thankfully very short
  • Outcasts – Entertaining, but massively flawed writing and plot holes. Not massively disappointed that it was cancelled.
  • Terriers – Charming, hilarious, interesting, entertaining and criminally cancelled
  • The Big C – hilarious and moving
  • The Walking Dead – The novelty made me watch it, but it was horribly cliché and flat

Two things jump out at me from that list. The fist thing is that genre shows get a bit of a free pass from me in that they only have to be not awful to get me to watch them. The second thing is there’s only one network show on the list, and even that one wasn’t very good. Other than that everything is either British, or on cable in the US; and they’re all short seasons. That’s not good, not good at all.

Might watch

  • Harry’s Law – the worrying preachiness of the pilot put me off, but given it survived a season, Kathy Bates might lure me back again
  • Hawaii Five-O – bright and entertaining popcorn action, I meant to watch it but I failed to catch it as it went past. I do intend to catch up though
  • Falling Skies – I enjoyed the pilot, but haven’t actually got around to watching the rest of it yet
  • Bedlam – Terrible Sky drama where Will Young was the best thing about it. I still have the last two episodes on the Sky box but haven’t quite got desperate enough to watch them.

Might’ve watched if they hadn’t been cancelled, might pick them up on dvd at some point

  • Chicago Code – OK, unremarkable, and then cancelled
  • Detroit 1-8-7 – solidly entertaining police procedural in a sea of mediocrity. Cancelled anyway
  • Hellcats – The pilot at least was entertaining in an awful Glee kind of way, it aired on MTV over here which was deeply annoying. Then it was cancelled.
  • Off the Map – It wasn’t as good as it wanted to be, but I enjoyed the pilot. It never seemed to make it to the UK at all due to its early cancellation I guess.

Not my thing

  • Being Human – not as good as the UK version, and I’m already 2 years behind on that
  • Boardwalk Empire – beautifully shot and acted and all that, but too slow
  • Exile – well acted and intriguing, I meant to watch the rest of the series but it disappeared from iplayer too fast and I wasn’t devastated
  • Nikita – felt like it was trying very hard (and maybe even succeeding) at being the next Alias, but given I never got round to watching that series I didn’t feel like committing to this one.

Just not very good

Body of Proof
Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviour
Law & Order: Los Angeles
Lone Star
My Generation
No Ordinary Family
Outlaw
The Cape
The Event
The Shadowline
The Whole Truth
Vera

Not a great year
I just don’t think this was a very good year for new television. Looking back at last year’s freshman there are a lot of stand-outs, both critical successes like Justified, The Good Wife and Treme and ratings hits like Glee, NCIS: LA and The Vampire Diaries. There are a few direct comparisons this year (Boardwalk Empire is this year’s Treme, Hawaii Five-O this year’s NCIS:LA), but overall there’s an awful lot of mediocre going on.

Where’s the creativity? Even things that television executives hail as new and exciting aren’t really. The Walking Dead is a remake of just about every zombie film out there, Game of Thrones is a bog standard fantasy epic – Lord of the Rings for the smaller screen with less pointy ears. Next year’s most hotly anticipated show seems set to follow the trend with Terra Nova bringing Jurassic Park to the TV.

Superheroes are out – there was a flurry of superhero shows and none of them were any good. People keep trying to find the magic of the early season of Heroes and the massive success that’s being found by Marvel and DC Comics at the cinema, but no one’s managed it yet. Here’s an idea, stop pissing off Joss Whedon and get him to do one, after he’s done making millions with The Avengers that is.

Procedurals ain’t doing so well either. I enjoy procedurals but it’s been a while since a good one came along. Maybe the market is still too saturated, because even the ones that had potential and critical praise couldn’t find enough viewers to make a go of it.

Finally, they’re still all desperately trying to find the next Lost – people keep trying, but the high concept stuff just doesn’t seem to catch. High concept is something that can be explained in a sentence (“Lost: a plane crashes on island”, “Inception: you can enter and control people’s dreams”). This year’s main attempt, The Event, was a little too high concept I think “Something happens” really is a bit too high, I gave up after about four episodes – for a show called The Event – something should bloody well happen.

Blue Bloods: Season 1

The reason I watched the whole season of this otherwise mediocre procedural can be summed up in two words – Tom Selleck. It’s impossible not to love Tom Selleck in this role, the writers have done a very good job of creating someone who is basically perfect, even his imperfections only highlight his perfectness.

He is the perfect police commissioner, proud of his people and his city, committed to justice and the law (and mindful of the occasional conflicts between the two). When someone threatens or disrespects any of those things his retribution is swift and definitive without being cruel. He is also the perfect father, guiding and supporting his family while still allowing them to find their own paths.

Frankly this bunch needs all the guidance and support they can get because they often act like a bunch of small children, seeing everything in black and white, bickering and being generally irritating. Where Selleck’s character empathises with everyone’s point of view and searches out a reasoned and fair compromises, his children (and his father for that matter) cheerfully seek out as contrary a point of view from their sibling as is possible and proceed to throw rocks at each other.

While the group dynamics were interesting for most of the season, towards the end I was wanting a bit more – more depth, more characters, more of a sense of extended family, the conversations around the dinner table just started to feel a bit stale. Maybe I’ve been spoilt by the larger clan and comings-and-goings on Brothers and Sisters, but the Reagans were starting to feel very small and insular by the end of the season. A few stronger female voices wouldn’t go amiss either.

The plots throughout the season were somewhere in the instantly forgettable to mediocre range of the spectrum. The writing did thankfully improve from the pilot, but it rarely reached anything I’d label as ‘good’. The “mystery of the blue templar” was kind of painful, too much like a cursory arc storyline bolted on because the network wanted one. It just didn’t work and thankfully was resolved at the end of the season. I’m hoping that next season they’ll do something more with the stuff on how the police commissioner sits between the force and the politicians and how precarious that is. That makes a much more interesting counterpoint to run alongside the regular procedural stuff.

I was attracted to the show by the strong concept, as I said in my pilot reviewBrothers & Sisters meets Law & Order. But the only thing that really made me stay with it was Tom Selleck. Under a lesser actor the perfectness of his character would become cloying,but I could watch him and his moustache all day long.

Setting the scene… or not

I’ve got a request to make of executive producers, or creative directors, or whoever it is that makes these decisions for television – stop putting title sequences on your shows.

That’s not to say I don’t love a good theme song and credits, I really do. But there are a lot of shows out there at the moment that seem to at the last minute before the first episode is delivered for airing realise they never filled the 30second place holder where the titles are supposed to go. An executive producer throws out last minute instructions to pick a random piece of music with no tune, throw together a montage of explosions and characters looking moody “and make sure my name is big”.

In the great days of old title sequences were about setting the scene for your show, give the audience a helping hand picking up what you were trying to say. Remember all those great opening themes and voice-overs you got on things like Star Trek and The Outer Limits? It wasn’t until I thought about it that I realised how amazing the title sequence for M*A*S*H was, it wasn’t a bright chirpy tune to put you in the mood for a comedy, it was sombre and quiet, reinforcing the sadness of the drama behind the comedy. More recently, Firefly did a similar thing, reinforcing the western feel that might have been over-shadowed by the science fiction.

The primary inspiration for this article came from the fact I watched an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles, followed by an episode of Blue Bloods and couldn’t help but see that the thing the shows had in common were two absolutely awful title sequences.

Standing alone the title sequences are both awful, loud cliché music, cheesy explosions, melodramatic posing from the actors and unimaginative text. The biggest crime though is how badly they fit with their shows. NCIS will usually jump from a dramatic reveal of a murder or crime straight into loud obnoxious music, Blue Bloods will jump from gritty and modern New York straight into a title sequence from the 80s. Knowing that each title sequence is coming leaves me anxiously hovering over the remote control so that I can fast-forward (god bless Sky+) before the opening chord intrudes on my viewing.

Most shows at the moment thankfully don’t bother with titles at all, taking five seconds for a splash screen and getting on with the show. Grey’s Anatomy used to have credits but rapidly got rid of them. Maybe it’s a bit surprising that Glee, a show all about music and presentation doesn’t have a theme song, but then how could they possibly pick just one song?

Some shows manage to make a surprising impact with even the most minimal splash screens, maybe Lost is the first that really got it right, showing exactly how much can be communicated with just a chord, a font and a fade. Supernatural adopts the same system, just the shows name, a sound and a special effect, but adds a variation by changing the effect and sound each season (and the occasional extra special version – see the collection). Even Brothers & Sisters with its simple sliding text and soothing couple of bars of music sets the correct tone for the show.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t however comment on a few shows that do manage to make title sequences work. For some reason channels like HBO and Showtime really make an effort and put a lot of thought into what they want their titles to say about their shows. The majority of things that would appear on my list of favourite credit sequences past (Six Feet Under, Carnivale, Deadwood, Dead Like Me) and present (Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, Boardwalk Empire) aired on HBO or Showtime in the US. All absolutely beautiful title sequences that really suit their shows. There would be a clip of the Sons of Anarchy intro here… but there doesn’t seem to be a version on YouTube.

Lie to Me – I can’t help but smile every time that woman’s eyes light up

Big Bang Theory – I don’t watch the show (I know I probably should, it’s on my list, I just haven’t got to it yet) but I love the titles!

Fringe – the standard intro is nothing special after a couple of seasons, but this year they’ve done a few alternate versions to fit with their alternate themes, including this genius one for their flashback to the 80s episode.

(Thanks to Smashing Magazine and TV.com for their collection of links.)

What I’m watching at the moment

I’m pretty much in the depths of scheduling desperation at the moment. Keeping on top of all the stuff coming in each week is about all I can manage, taking an evening out to watch a film can cause catastrophic backlog on the sky+ box. Unfortunately while I’m watching a lot of TV, there’s not much for me to talk about, no new pilots, no season end reviews, I’m just trudging through the middles. So with a lack of anything else to write about, here’s a snapshot of what I’m watching at the moment.

Bedlam (Sky Living, Mondays) –Sky’s attempt to offer an alternative to Being Human, with a supernatural ghosty drama type thing. It’s awful. Particularly hateful is the lead female character, Kate, who is an absolute bitch of a blond trendy 20something who the rest of the cast don’t slap about the head for some reason that escapes me. Will Young is kind of adorable, but the rest of the cast is completely bland and the plots simultaneously over the top and boring. I gave it two episodes, but I don’t think I’ll be watching the third.

Glee (E4, Mondays) – I’m also enjoying Glee recently, although I have no idea why. The characterisation is all over the place, just about every relationship is lacking in chemistry, plots are painfully ‘issue of the week’ and I want to gaffer tape Rachel’s mouth shut every time she appears. However, there’s been some really fun music choices, the Rocky Horror Picture Show episode was kind of inspired, Kurt breaks my heart every week and for all the fact that most of it is rubbish, it really makes me smile.

Blue Bloods (Tuesdays, Sky Atlantic) – There are two remarkable things about this otherwise mediocre show. The first is that the writing is often utterly terrible, plot is delivered in scenery chewing monologues with all the subtlety of breeze blocks, “it’s a shame mom is dead and my brother was killed on duty, I’d really like to talk to them about my conflicted feelings” isn’t far off the quality of dialogue here. The other remarkable thing however is Tom Selleck. Every time he is on screen he brightens the place up, managing to somehow have credible relationships with his concrete inspired offspring and navigate his way through the awfulness in a way that makes me come back for more each week.

Bones (Sky Living, Wednesdays) – Bones herself seems to have regressed this season, becoming even less aware of how normal people behave, more annoying than ever. But despite the best efforts of the central character, I still enjoy the show a lot. It comes up with an interesting gimmick each week (the body in chocolate was particularly grim) and Booth and the supporting cast (including the entertaining, rotating interns) are extremely watch-able.

Grey’s Anatomy (Sky Living, Wednesdays) – I’m loving this season. I pounce on every episode as soon as it arrives and I can find a safe time to watch it – there cannot be any possibility of interruption or distraction, it just has to be me and my show. Everything just seems to be working, there’s not too much whining, there’s no duds in the character collection, the relationships are all interesting and going somewhere and the dialogue is as sharp as it’s ever been. Love it.

Mad Dogs (Sky1, Thursdays) – the first episode was definitely the high point with the careful pacing and gradual creepiness now replaced with a random chaotic collection of violence and shouting. The actors make it enjoyable, but I’m glad it’s only four episodes long and finishes this week.

The Good Wife (More4, Thursdays) – I am SOOOOOO over Kalinda. I mean seriously? Are we supposed to be sympathetic, because frankly I’m beginning to think she’s had some kind of psychotic break. I also don’t really understand why Diane and Will have suddenly taken against each other, I loved them in the first season, friendly and constructive while still keeping a few cards to themselves, now they’re acting like paranoid conspiracy nuts, did I miss something? I’m also pretty bored of the political campaigning – has there even been mention of the actual political issues at all it seems to be all about threats and manipulation? So overall, I’m struggling a bit with The Good Wife at the moment.

CSI (Thursdays, Five USA) – There have been a few interesting bits this season, but nothing spectacular. The emotional and personal stuff has been laid on a bit thick, issues coming and going like sledgehammers. The show could really use some younger characters to come in and challenge the status quo a bit, it’s at risk of turning into Midsummer Murders.

Brothers & Sisters (Thursdays, More4) –This isn’t an amazing show, but it continues to be comfortable. It’s full of melodrama, cheese and sappiness. The cast has thinned down a bit having lost Robert, Holly and Rebecca which I think actually improves the show and I don’t miss any of them. The small time shift also makes things a bit more interesting, but at its heart this is a hot chocolate and duvet show.

The Big C (Thursdays, More4) – It’s billed as a comedy, and it *is* funny, but all the humour comes from the “you’ve got to laugh or you’ll cry” school of thought. It’s not an easy show to watch, but it is extremely good with a spectacular performance from Laura Linney.

NCIS (FX, Fridays) – only just returned so the only episode I’ve seen is the resolution to the big mid-season cliff-hanger which I really didn’t care about in the slightest. Despite the fact that the ratings are through the roof on this in the US, I’m losing interest as characters continue to behave erratically and the plots get less and less engaging.

Criminal Minds (Sky1, Fridays) – I always enjoy Criminal Minds, it’s not spectacular, but each week the mysteries are interesting, the action suitably dramatic and the characters and their relationships rewarding for the long term viewer. I do miss JJ horribly, but am enjoying Garcia’s increased role and appreciate that the new agent brings a bit of energy to the show. A solid performer.

CSI:New York (Saturdays, Channel 5) – The disappearance of Stella and her replacement by Sela Ward was a bit spontaneous, but gave the show a bit of excitement. But it didn’t really last and it’s settled back into a bit of rut. It’s ok to watch while cooking or ironing, but that’s not exactly high praise.

Outcasts – (BBC1 Sundays) – it’s a bit n&*f really, I have some really very serious doubts the writers have any idea about the timelines, the history of the colony or where they’re going with the mystery. BUT if treated as mindless entertainment, it’s actually moderately enjoyable.

NCIS: LA (Sky1, Sundays) – the sister series however I’m enjoying more and more. The plots are still pretty dull, but the characters and dialogue have a spark to them that the original series seems to have lost. The ensemble is working well together having lost Nate and what’s-his-face who were pretty dull and replaced them with quirkier and more interesting Nell and Deeks.

Top Gear (BBC2, Sundays) – Falling to the bottom of my watch list, I find myself fast forwarding more and more of each episode. When they’re spontaneous, I still love them, but too much is scripted and obviously faked.

Supernatural (“spring/summer”, Sky Living) – when a show takes on the apocalypse and the devil, it’s a big question where to go next, but the tighter focus on the more personal issues was a good choice. There’s still a great mix of angst, action, drama and a bucket load of humour (it’s been a long time since I laughed at anything as hard as I laughed at Dean and the fairy).

Pilot Review: Blue Bloods

Three generations of New York cops: grandpa was the Commissioner, Dad is the current Commissioner and the kids are an old-school detective, a brand new beat cop, detective and a district attorney.

The concept is pretty simple, but actually very strong, one of the best I’ve seen in quite a while actually, like a combination of Brothers and Sister with Law and Order. The family and work elements don’t switch back and forth, they’re completely inter-twined, dad phones to check up on whether his eldest is bringing the roast over on Sunday, while also being the Commissioner checking up on a case’s progress. Sunday lunch is a time to discuss relationships, but also to debate different approaches to the law. These peoples’ lives are complicated with professional and personal relationships so caught up in each other there’s subtext all over the place.

The family is headed by Tom Selleck and his moustache. He immediately conveys that he is a strong leader to both his family and his force, but he’s not invulnerable – he misses his deceased wife and son, and the press and the politicians keep getting between him and his job. He really is the centre of everything, between the members of his family, the branches of the police force and the internal and public faces of the job; he’s got a difficult road to navigate and Selleck brings all that complexity with very few words.

The three children don’t come across quite so well in the pilot. The eldest son (Donnie Wahlberg) is a living breathing cliché – former soldier who brought anger management issues home from Iraq, becoming a gritty detective who does what needs to be done. Blah blah blah. His younger brother (Will Estes) meanwhile is the opposite cliché, amazingly smart law student who gave it up to put on the uniform when their other brother died in service.

This is a house full of men. Grandma and Mom have passed away, and the only daughter (Bridget Moynahan) is slightly isolated in that she’s a lawyer rather than a police officer. She seems to spend most of the first episode spoiling for fights -with her older brother for screwing up a case, with her grandfather for having old fashioned views, with her little brother for his career choice, with her daughter over something or other and her husband over divorce papers. I found her quite self-righteous and irritating to be honest,

The pilot did generally have a problem with poor writing. The case of the week was utterly unremarkable except for the abundance of fortunate coincidences that guided the police through it. But the bigger crime by far was the clumsy way that we were bludgeoned around the head with exposition. Back story is tricky to deliver, but this was laughably bad, with all the characters at one point standing in a circle explaining their own job titles and reminding each other which relatives were dead. It also seems to be a rule these days that you must have some sort of political conspiracy or deep family secret and they managed to wrestle both into one rather bluntly introduced scene at the end, that made me roll my eyes rather than sit forward and pay attention.

The show has a lot of potential I think. All the conflicts that traditionally appear on shows between beat police, detectives, lawyers and police so senior they are practically politicians are condensed around one dinner table; while at the same time all the strength and frustrations of a family unit are glued together by a common reference point of the law. While the writing of the pilot left a lot to be desired I had the impression it was more a case of first-night nerves than a lack of talent. The cast is excellent and often managed to pull off even the terrible dialogue they were lumbered with here. It’s a relatively poor pilot, but there was enough potential there that I may well tune in for a few more episodes and wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes something special if given some care and attention.

Reviews
TV Squad – This is a show I want to like, if just for Selleck and Wahlberg, but so far the writing leaves a lot to be desired.
CliqueClack – it’s Tom Selleck heading up a family of cops and it’s quality drama with deep and complex characters, not just your average procedural.

Links: Official Site , wikipedia, imdb.com