Just when it seemed that there couldn't possibly be room for another successful crime drama on the CBS prime time schedule, freshman series "Blue Bloods" premiered on low-rated Friday night last fall and viewers showed up. In fact, a recent tryout on Wednesday nights proved successful and while the series is now back on Fridays (to make room for "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior"), a mid-week return isn't out of the realm of possibilities down the line.
In the New York City-based one-hour drama, the lives of the Reagan family are intertwined while working in various areas of law enforcement - Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is a detective, sister Erin (Bridget Moynahan) is an Assistant District Attorney, youngest brother Jamie (Will Estes) is a rookie police officer and father Frank (the always sturdy Tom Selleck) is the widowed Police Commissioner. That crime-fighting set-up aside, executive producers Robin Green (who created the series with husband Mitchell Burgess) and TV vet Leonard Goldberg insisted "Blue Bloods" is more character than procedural when they spoke recently to our Jim Halterman. During their chat, Green and Goldberg talked about finding the middle ground between character and procedural, casting Selleck and if viewers can expect the show to get a little sexier in the future.
Jim Halterman: There's seems to be something very traditional about 'Blue Bloods.' Is it wrong to call it a traditional drama?
Leonard Goldberg: Absolutely not! When I told Nina [Tassler, CBS Entertainment President] the very basic idea a year and a half ago. I said, 'Do you know the show 'Modern Family?' and she said 'Yes!' I said, 'This isn't it! It's a traditional family.'
JH: What are the challenges in making this a character drama as opposed to a full-on procedural like many of the CBS crime dramas on the air?
LG: We consider ourselves a character drama. We are not a pure procedural. We have a police story every week and there's a beginning, middle and end but we are essentially a character drama and we rely on our writing and our cast, which we think is extraordinary, to carry our shows. I have been doing police shows since there were police shows and there are no more stories to be found so we try to do these stories as interestingly as possible but we really rely on the characters and their interrelation to work. If you watch 'Hawaii Five-0' and then watch us you're looking at two shows probably from different planets. They're very successful at what they do and they're good at it but it's light years from what we do.
JH: I can't think of too many crime dramas that have dinner scenes in each episode as well as intimate chats in the living room. I have to admit I kinda like that!
Robin Green: We do, too!
LG: That's always the hallmark of our show - the dinner scene. I don't recall seeing one in a police drama ever before and I think that's what is going to attract the audience.
JH: It's easy to assume that once you get Tom Selleck cast in a show, the rest of it is cake. Was that the case?
RG: Yes. We felt we had to cast the Frank Reagan character first because he was not only the patriarch of the family but of the city so we were very fortunate being able to get Tom Selleck.
LG: It should be known that we wrote the pilot before we had Tom and then Leonard said 'Let's get Tom Selleck and see if he'll like this' so we couldn't think of anyone else in the role.
JH: The whole cast is great but Donnie Wahlberg, in particular, is really doing solid work as Danny Reagan. Are you blown away by what you're getting from him week after week?
LG: Absolutely. We've seen Donnie in a lot of things over the years and sometimes it just happens like it happened with George Clooney on 'ER' that finally the role and the actor and the time come together. I think that's what happened with Donnie in playing Danny Reagan. He really has to drive the show because he's the detective of our group so he always gets the cases.
JH: One thing I've noticed in watching the show is that there is not a lot of sex going on in the show. Is that a plan or is that something we're going to see more of?
LG: It's simply off camera. [Laughs.] Well, Danny Reagan is married...
RG: ...so he has sex.
LG: I think we do have potential in the future with Erin and Frank and Jamie. Jamie just being separated from his fiance - his engagement is off...
RG: That's exactly what we're addressing right now. For my taste, you have to be careful in this series not to go too far, too fast.
LG: That's right. We've never had a moment where we've had time to really plan ahead and in order to do these romances, which we want to do, we want them to be as well-written and intelligent as the rest of the show so for that you really need time to work it out and plan ahead before you do the first episode. From the beginning, we've been kind of scrambling because of the change we had to go through in the beginning with CBS.
RG: In the very beginning they tried to shoehorn the show into being more of a procedural and dropping the family aspect and having it be more like 'Hawaii Five-0' and a fast-paced procedural.
LG: ...without the sand.
RG: ...without the sand and the bathing suits!
JH: The Reagan family is essentially a very good group of people but will we see them get dirtied up a little bit down the line?
LG: They're human beings and have character flaws and those have come out in little ways. Danny Reagan is a guy who probably pushes the limits whenever he has to. Yes, all flaws will be exposed.
RG: Danny is a hot head but, for me, I was really interested in the notion of what it was to be heroic today and people who were trying to do the right thing and if we can find a way to find drama in being heroic. I think that we do.
JH: The stories with the family members regularly cross over into each other. How do you do that creatively without it coming off as contrived week after week?
RG: That's the challenge right there and we fight against that constantly. The coincidence. What's Jamie doing at Danny's crime scene? We try to make it as real as possible and I think that's part of the whole thing about it being a more traditional show is that we don't go for sex...we go for reality.
LG: That is the challenge that Robin and Mitch have handled so well. You start with the police story for the week and then you've gotta find ways that realistically and logically involve the family without it becoming a tired formula. It's gotta be surprising each week...
RG: ...and different. I'm always amazed when I go back to the playback and the show is quite different when it's put together. To me it is like 'The Sopranos' [where Green and Burgess were Exec Producers] in the way that each show is its own movie and I'm very proud of that.
JH: When you first heard you were moving from Friday to Wednesday for a few weeks were you a little nervous?
LG: Here's the thing, we were fine on Friday, we were doing really well, the audience found us but television is a habit medium. Of course we were concerned but CBS said there a lot more people available on Wednesday night and we'd like to see how you'd do. Of course, the competition is a lot more formidable on Wednesday night and they didn't mention that. They saw the way we were performing...so we're really happy about it.
RG: I'm nervous by nature so I would have to say yes because it's always a test. You never know what's going to happen. I'm not that nervous anymore.
"Blue Bloods" returns to Fridays at 10:00/9:00c tonight on CBS.