In teeing up Blue Bloods‘ new season (premiering this Friday at 10/9c), showrunner Kevin Wade has no whiz-bang stunts or edge-of-your-seat cliffhanger resolutions to tout. And that is by design.
“We have a prescribed thing that we do, for which I think the technical term is ‘a closed-end procedural,'” Wade tells TVLine. “So we don’t tell serialized stories, we don’t have cliffhangers, we don’t replace cast members…. Many of the tools that long-running shows have, very much to our credit or to whatever, we don’t have at our disposal, so we try to work with what we have.”
What Blue Bloods has, heading into its 13th season, is a cast led by Tom Selleck (as NYPD police commissioner Frank Reagan), Donnie Wahlberg (Danny Reagan), Bridget Moynahan (Erin Reagan), Will Estes (Jamie Reagan), Len Cariou (Henry Reagan) and Marisa Ramirez (Maria Baez) and Vanessa Ray (Eddie Janko), and rounded out by “recurring” players Abigail Hawk (as Abigail Baker) Gregory Jbara (Garrett Moore), Robert Clohessy (Lt. Gormley), Steven Schirripa (Anthony Abetamarco) and Andrew Terraciano (Sean Reagan).
The cop drama’s aim is thus “to tell fresh stories — though not ‘ripped from the headlines,'” Wade makes clear, “and trying to find another layer to these long-running, existing characters, that the actor who plays it can sink his or her teeth into. That’s really what we’re doing for each of them.”
But speaking of ripping things from headlines….
The indisputable fact is that Blue Bloods in recent years has existed in a very different climate, one where “Defund the Police,” #BlackLivesMatter and related sentiments have taken a foothold — especially in the wake of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
And while Blue Bloods has at times broached such topics, it has a tougher row to hoe than any other current show, seeing as at its heart it is about a family of cops. So to suggest that some “bad apples” are out there among New York’s Finest runs the risk of clouding viewers’ opinion of protagonists Danny, Jamie et al.
Says Wade, “You only need to pick up a newspaper on Sunday for 20 minutes to realize that there is a deep and pervasive mistrust of institutions… of leaders, whether they are elected or appointed… of law enforcement in general, both on the judicial side and on the cops-on-the-ground side… because of all the things that have happened on the blue side and on the red side.
“It’s like, all bets are off,” the EP posits. “‘The FBI is crooked, we should ban them!’ ‘The justice department is in the pocket of whoever’s in the White House!’ ‘The New York City police commissioner is actually the mayor, and he spends all his time cultivating his night life.’ It’s a very upside-down world in which a bunch of conservative Catholics from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn” — aka Blue Bloods‘ Reagan clan — “try to carry out the thing that they know to do.”
Wade says that once he “embraced” this new challenge, he saw an opportunity, because the Reagans “are sort of the establishment and they’re sort of outliers, trying to do a last-century job in a new century where all the rules have been thrown out and nobody trusts anybody.”
Wade says that this Friday’s season premiere, in fact, takes a look at that distrust when Stacy Keach’s Archbishop Kevin Kearns says to Frank, “You and I have lost our flocks. Nobody trusts any institutions anymore, so let’s go out in the city and find out what it is that people won’t say to our faces. Let’s see what’s out there.”
In true Blue Bloods fashion, you can expect a degree of insight into this “upside-down world” the Reagans now police, but offering up a POV from both sides and stopping short of any preaching.
As Wade asserts, “Nobody is tuning in on Friday night at 10 o’clock to be taught a lesson or lectured on what the right point of view is. So when we try to address issues that have two very vocal sides to them, we try to build a soap box of equal dimensions for the, let’s call it, ‘antagonistic’ point of view.”
What else can Blue Bloods viewers expect in Season 13? Read on….
A BIG CHANGE FOR #JAMKO
As previously reported by TVLine, “though there is no law on the books” about spouses working in the same precinct, “is it is against the rule of custom,” showrunner Kevin Wade explained. And as Season 13 opens, Jamie and Eddie’s new commanding officer, Stephanie Kurtzuba’s Sgt. McNichols, will declare, ‘One of you is going to transfer by the end of the day.’”
But — plot twist! — neither Jamie nor Eddie will actually have to bid the 29th precinct adieu. (Read here for the scoop on why/how.)
Stephanie Kurtzuba, who thrice before has appeared as Sgt. McNichols, “is great,” Wade raves, “and we noticed that she has a wonderful chemistry with Vanessa Ray (who plays Eddie). I also noticed that I missed having a female associate/partner with Vanessa since her old partner left, Lauren Patten[‘s Rachel], so I thought, ‘Well, this is an opportunity. Let’s give her a boss who is a female who she has good chemistry with.'”
'UNFINISHED BUSINESS' FOR ERIN/JACK
Though Blue Bloods showrunner Kevin Wade pretty firmly foresees no romantic developments this season for either Danny or equally eligible family patriarch Frank… the same perhaps cannot be said for Erin.
“We brought back Peter Hermann in the season premiere,” as Erin’s ex-husband Jack, Wade shares. “We always enjoy that complex relationship of divorced parents with a grown child. They’ve got some unfinished business, so I imagine he’ll appear a few more times.”
Meanwhile in Erin’s professional life, after much back and forth last season, she will “actively run for her boss’ job, as District Attorney for Manhattan,” Wade says.
ONE MOTHER OF A TWIST
Out of nowhere, Marisa Ramirez’s Det. Maria Baez in last season’s finale decided to adopt a newborn who had been tragically orphaned.
“We had backed ourselves into a corner with this orphaned baby…,” showrunner Kevin Wade recalls, “and [executive producer] Siobhan Byrne O’Connor went, ‘What if Baez adopted her?’ I went, ‘Great! That’s brilliant.'”
Baez’s new status as a first-time mom will deliver, among other things, “some occasional comedy gold in Donnie Wahlberg as Danny Reagan giving parenting advice to a single mom with an adopted child,” Wade previews with a laugh.
THE PRODIGAL GRANDSON RETURNS
Joe Hill (played by Will Hochman) appears in the Season 13 premiere, and should be seen “a fair amount” beyond that, says showrunner Kevin Wade.
“We have him in the first [episode], where there are some crossed wires in an investigation between him and actually Erin and Anthony, and Danny,” Wade previews.
All told, Wade hails Joe as “a wonderful black sheep and a wonderful character to write who’s a Reagan but who is not a Reagan,” someone “who didn’t drink the whole vat of Kool-Aid of ‘duty and honor and NYPD’ and all that stuff. The other writers and I love to have a little outlet where we dont have to be quite so ‘true blue’ about the whole thing, and he’s a wonderful vehicle for it.”
WILL THE COMMISH EVER CALL IT QUITS?
Though Blue Bloods has teased the notion of Frank vacating his position as NYPD police commissioner — most recently, to take a suh-weet gig with the NFL — showrunner Kevin Wade acknowledges you can’t go to that well too often. Not matter how much Mayor Chase might welcome it!
“At the root of it, you try to walk a couple of miles in these characters’ shoes,” the EP explains. “Now if I was Frank Reagan and I was in my 70s and had that job, I’d be looking for something else.” After all, “you always have a mayor who’s never going to say to the police commissioner, ‘Do whatever you want.’ So I think we have license to walk him up to that ledge — not a lot, because then it become a cliche, but if you frame it correctly, once in a while go you, ‘Why wouldn’t you became a high-level executive at the NFL, for God’s sake?’ But within the confines of the show, he is the police commissioner of New York City.”
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