Blue Bloods is a well-respected police procedural that's currently in its fourth season, but it's also a show that has run relatively stagnant within the past two years. The show details the lives of the Reagan family who for all intents and purposes are the face of New York City Law Enforcement.
Blue Bloods is another cop show, but what separates it from the rest of its genre's ilk is the strong family bond that all of these characters share with each other. There's a certain sense of camaraderie that's unshakable between these characters that works so well. It's always a joy to watch these characters interact with each other in what is for the most part a pretty wholesome show. That being said, Blue Bloods does occasionally delve into some relatively dark territory and those moments are what are oftentimes best about the whole affair. Life in New York City is not an easy one to live, and Blue Bloods does manage to showcase the proverbial heart of darkness of many characters that the Reagans have to deal with.
Unfortunately much of said darkness that's explored in the show only really takes place in the first two seasons compared to the last two, and the show needs to go back to its own original quality in future seasons to be better. Now that Blue Bloods has officially been picked up for a fifth season, there are five things that it needs to do in order to be returned to its former glory.
SPOILERS for up to the fourth season ahead.
5) Give The Reagans More Difficult Choices To Make
One of the more interesting facets about the show is how the Reagans are a family of devout Catholics. It's a family-based show where these characters are often faced with many moral choices. They can do what's right, or they can do what's easy. More often than not, they pick the morally upright decision, even if it's not the popular one, because they're principled people by nature. It's refreshing to see people of good character stand up for what they believe in despite their flaws because it makes the audience genuinely want to root for them. However, some of Blue Bloods' best moments are when the choices that these character make aren't ones that are so easily defined in black and white. Seeing Henry get involved in an illegal gambling ring with exorbitant amounts of debt is fascinating, and then is just totally fixed at the end of the episode.
Watching Erin get romantically involved with an art thief worked for a few episodes and was of course resolved entirely not long after that. Conflict is what drives storytelling, and by having the Reagans sort of struggle and then do right by themselves almost immediately afterwards becomes almost a parody of itself. The show has become agonizingly predictable because the audience knows that these characters will almost always do the right thing. It would be a huge breath of fresh air for these characters to actually screw up in a major way, so as to add some genuine intrigue and suspense to further episodes in a broader fashion. For instance, wouldn't it be great if Danny went too far during an interrogation and beat a suspect to death, and had to cover it up?
Speaking of convenience...
4) Have Less Episodes Be So Conveniently Wrapped Up
Only one episode in the entire series ended with a dark ending. The Lonely Hearts Club involved Danny's long-time partner Jackie (Jennifer Esposito) going undercover as a prostitute. Danny is understandably nervous waiting close by while listening in on her room. Two men come to her door and take advantage of her, so they drug her and knock her out. Danny rushes in to save her fearing that he's risked his partner's life to catch these guys. He shoots and kills one of the men, while the other one gets away. Danny rushes over to a comatose Jackie, holds her in his arms and cries while waiting for back-up to come. That's the only time the show ever truly ended on a dour note. Every other episode is all neatly tied up and resolved so perfectly, and frankly it's grown rather tiresome.
The show has a lot of merit to it in many aspects, but because it's always played so safe with how everything is so conveniently wrapped up, there's little room for genuine white knuckle intensity. The viewer knows that none of the important characters will actually ever be in any real danger. They'll be in dangerous situations in most cases, but everyone knows they'll get out just fine at the end. For instance in one episode, Danny's son Sean is put into a coma, so he's never been more heartbroken at the sight of his young son. Of course give it the entire episode and Sean just so happens to wake up perfectly fine right at the very end. It would be so awesome to see the show have more unpredictable endings that could really shake things up.
Coincidently, the episode following Lonely Hearts Club makes no mention of what happened prior to it, so it's as if one of the best episodes in the entire series never even happened. Jackie is awake and fine while working alongside Danny that was just beyond frustrating in its execution.
Speaking of Jackie...
3) Bring Back Jackie
Jackie Curatola (Jennifer Esposito) was one of the fan-favourites on the show. She was the perfect partner for Danny because she was his equal in every single way. If there was ever anyone who really understood Danny other than his wife, it was Jackie. They're intellectual equals, they worked together the longest and they have a great and entirely believable brother/sister-like relationship. He's the big brother that loves and respects her and would do anything for her. Jackie was the best character on the show that wasn't one of the Reagans. The Lonely Hearts episode is a prime example of why they're so great together. Not to mention the chemistry of Wahlberg and Esposito is unparalleled. Unfortunately Esposito was more or less fired from the show because of her having Celiac disease and therefore sadly wasn't able to perform to the best of her ability. At least that's what reports have said anyway. Either way, having her absent from the show has been greatly damaging to its overall quality.
She was there pretty well from the beginning and Danny needs a good partner to balance him out. It's a simple fact that Jackie is the one partner who was his best counter point hands down. Having Esposito get unceremoniously taken out of the show due to her celiac is not only a slap in the face to her, but it's also a slap in the face to her fans. Her last episode was Nightmares in the third season where she packed up her desk in a box and told Danny that she needed to "think over some things". Her exit always felt truncated and totally mishandled that's still an unforgivable mark on the show.
To take over as Danny's partner, there's been roughly a handful of other potential "Jackie replacements" and none have ever come close. Danny's current partner Maria Baez (Marisa Ramirez) is his longest lasting "Jackie successor" that chances are will be on the show for the rest of Blue Bloods' run. Baez is easily the best of the given options we've seen who's a decent fit for the show, but she's still no Jackie. Esposito was the bomb and needs to come back.
Speaking of other characters...
2) Focus On More Characters Other Than Just Danny
Many fans would agree that Danny is the best character on the show, because he's the most dynamic. He's the cop willing to get his hands the most dirty who often has to make the toughest choices out of anyone. He always gets his man, even if it requires him to bend the rules which is always an exciting prospect. He's a cop who's the best at what he does, while trying to balance his time on the force with time at home with his wife and kids. As great as Danny is however, the fact is the show unfortunately shortchanges many of the other characters in favour of Wahlberg getting the lion's share of screen time.
Erin only ever lately seems to show up whenever Danny needs her legal influence on a case or when her daughter Nikki argues with her on some topic of some sort. She was the only Reagan to not join the New York police force in favour of being a defence lawyer instead. Her perspective of being the lone female in the Reagan family is an interesting one that frustratingly never really gets explored anymore, because there's just so much Danny going on all the time. Erin is agonizingly just relegated to the sidelines mostly being the overbearing mother stereotype that's flat out exhausting at this point.
Jamie is a cop who's on the streets and sees a lot of horrors every single day by being in the very thick of it. He's the youngest of the Reagan siblings and has a lot to live up to by being constantly compared to his older brother Danny. The idea of living in the shadow of an older sibling is most certainly relatable to many viewers at home with older siblings that makes for some truly great character development for Jamie. That's something that could really be a well explored overarching storyline for him as he continues to grow into his own man outside of being "Danny's kid brother", as he's so often viewed.
We also want to see more of him and the development of the working and most assuredly at some point romantic relationship with his current partner Eddie Jenko (Vanessa Ray). It's obvious that they're both attracted to and like each other, despite protests from both that they're "just partners" and nothing more. Sure Jamie, sure. We believe you.
Speaking of overarching storylines...
1) Have A Substantial Overarching Storyline Again
Blue Bloods is currently in the last legs of its fourth season. The first two seasons of the show were far superior to the third and fourth season because of how solid their season-long plotlines were. The biggest reason for the qualitative discrepancy is simply due to the fact that the first two seasons actually had overarching storylines throughout their respective seasons, and the last two strangely haven't had any.
The first season was all about flushing out the Blue Templars and getting revenge for the murder of Joe who's never shown on screen. That arc really gave pathos and gravitas to each of the Reagans, because everything was so personal. Backing up the earlier point of adding more darkness to the show, the Blue Templar storyline saw the Reagans out for blood and exacting vengeance through thin blue line justice.
The second season involved Jamie going undercover and getting in the good graces with a very dangerous Italian crime family. The deeper Jamie got involved with Noble Sanfino and his insanely attractive sister, the more we feared for Jamie's life. Will they discover that he's a cop? Is he going to get out alive? At one point Jamie gets the tar beaten out of him, so that he's almost unrecognizable to the point that it's truly disturbing. Fearing for his own safety, he's put into witness protection in one of the edgiest episodes of the show's entire history. Where's the intensity and immediacy of storylines like this when you need them?
Then you get to the third season and not a single episode is related to any other episode, save for the last couple that just felt tacked on. Along with pretty well the entire fourth season so far, these episodes themselves are good, but everything is all mostly just filler with nothing ever truly building to something bigger later on in the season. The show needs to bring in an overarching and preferentially darker storyline to really rejuvenate this series back to what it once was and can still be again.