First Impressions

Law & Order: Los Angeles / Blue Bloods

Aired on: NBC / CBS

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Wow, there are a lot of interesting new shows out there for the fall television season of 2010.  But are they all worth watching?  One could only figure that out by watching a few, right?  Well, that’s what I set out to do when I sat down Friday, September 23rd for the new CBS police drama, Blue Bloods, and Wednesday, September 29th for NBC’s latest addition to the Law & Order family, Law & Order: Los Angeles.

            We’ll start with Thursday’s new show.  I had always been a fan of the Law & Order series of shows, which offered viewers a chance to see both police and lawyers at work trying to solve crimes and put away the bad guys.  First you watch the police at work, solving the crime, then you get to see the lawyers in action, trying the case to put the criminal in prison.  Many of the stories on Law & Order are based on actual events in the news or as they are fond of saying, “ripped from the headlines.” 

            With the exception of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, I greatly enjoyed watching each episode of the Law & Order franchise.  When NBC announced that the original New York-based Law & Order was completing its run, I felt that it was the end f an era.  But then NBC announced the beginning of a new one - the creation of Law & Order: Los Angeles, a new city, but the same gritty crime/legal drama.  I recognized quite a few of the actors in starring roles on the series and decided to check it out.

            The series premiere featured Skeet Ulrich as Rex Winters and Corey Stoll as T.J. Jaruszalski, to Los Angeles Police Department Detectives out to nail down the people responsible for the recent rash of burglaries committed in the homes of rich celebrities while they are out for nights on the town.  Usually the burglaries are committed on unoccupied residences, but during the most recent one, a young girl was attacked when she decided to surprise her boyfriend and instead came upon one of the burglars.  The two detectives soon find a link for each of the burglaries - each of the victims had been out partying with actress Chelsea Senate (Danielle Panabaker).  Could she be the mastermind behind the crimes?

            This new version of Law & Order has a slightly different format.  I knew who the criminal was fairly early in this episode and it had nothing to do with a revelation made by one of the police officers.  They actually revealed the criminals to us early on, letting us see them in action.  The police officers investigating the cases will always be Rex and T.J. as in the original Law & Order format, but in this new version of the series, the cases will be tried by two different teams of District Attorneys depending on the episode.  This time around it was the team of Ricardo Morales (Alfred Molina) and Evelyn Price (Regina Hall).

            Everything else seems to be the same, just in a different setting.  For example, nothing about the writing has changed - the banter between the two detectives is very similar to that of the original series.  I particularly enjoyed the discussion of the surreal life of some of the criminals and victims in the Los Angeles area shared by Rex and T.J.  District Attorneys Morales and Price try cases much in the same style as the lawyers in the original series.  And the cases are from the headlines, discussing the recent rash of burglaries of celebrity homes in Los Angeles performed by the Hollywood-obsessed teen Bling Ring.

            All-in-all, I found myself watching what fairly amounts to a carbon copy of the original Law & Order transported to the City of Angels.  However, I have yet to see an episode with the second team of District Attorneys, Jonah Dekker (Terrence Howard) and Lauren Stanton (Megan Boone).  They may shake things up a bit.  I’m surprised to say that I am not pleased with Skeet Ulrich’s acting in this premiere episode.  For some reason he seems stiff and out of his element.  Perhaps that will change in future episodes.  That’s right, I’ll be watching future episodes Wednesday nights on NBC simply because I am a fan of the franchise and have the distinct impression that this is a show that will get better with time.

            Now, on to the Friday premiere, Blue Bloods.  This series focuses on the fictional Reagan family.  New Yorkers born and bred, each member of the Reagan family has found their place in the law.  Grandfather Henry Reagan (Len Cariou) was a former Chief in the New York City Police Department, father Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) is the present NYC Police Commissioner, eldest son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is a seasoned NYPD detective, daughter Erin (Bridget Moynahan) is an Assistant District Attorney, middle son Joe was killed on the job as an NYPD officer and youngest son Jamie (Will Estes) has just graduated from the academy and is beginning his rookie year as an NYPD officer.

            The premiere episode begins with Jamie’s graduation from the academy.  His girlfriend is not to keen on the idea of him walking away from a possible career as a lawyer to become a cop, but this has always been Jamie’s dream and nothing is going to dissuade him from it.  Not even the idea that his brother may have been killed working undercover on an investigation into the Blue Templar, a rumored secret society within the NYPD.  Meanwhile, brother Danny is on the hunt for a kidnapped little girl whose medical condition dictates that Danny move fast to find her.  His unorthodox ways soon find him in trouble with the police department as well as his sister, Erin, who struggles to make the case against his perp stick.

            Now, I’m not a big fan of Tom Selleck’s work, but I did recognize a lot of the actors in this series and had a feeling it might be something worth watching, so I decided to check it out and, surprise, I liked it.  There is a chemistry between these actors that makes you believe they are family.  And these characters are likable - you want to get to know them, their hopes and dreams and their hidden secrets.  Even the supporting actors are enjoyable.  It was nice to see Amy Carlson - she plays Danny’s wife - and Nicholas Turturro - Jamie’s training partner - again in a new series. 

            When I first saw previews of Blue Bloods I thought, “Oh no, another cop show,” but I was wrong.  Blue Bloods is more than a cop show.  This is less about the cops catching the bad guys and more about the behind the scenes stuff - the lives of a family who have chosen service to the citizens of New York by putting the bad guys behind bars and how that servitude affects their lives on a daily basis.  Some make good choices, some make bad choices and some let their secrets eat them alive.  This show has me intrigued and I can’t wait to watch another episode Friday night on CBS.


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