SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s Blue Bloods Season 9 finale.
“It’s a wonderful experience to have a long run at a character where you’re allowed to do a character-driven show, and I think that’s why we’re all so hooked into it,” says Tom Selleck on why he thinks that Blue Bloods is so successful and why there’s a lot more to come for the CBS drama.
With the long awaited wedding of youngest Reagan son Jamie (Will Estes) and his patrol partner, Eddie Janko (Vanessa Ray ) culminating tonight’s Season 9 “Something Blue” finale, one of the most consistently watched shows on television shifted both the dynamic and the focus without missing a beat.
Like every good season finale, tonight’s Blue Bloods ended with a wedding, but it was unsteady walk down the aisle, literally and figuratively at times in the Kevin Wade executive produced show.
As Eddie and Jaime increasingly bicker over their upcoming life together and her feeling that the tight knit Reagans have no place for her in their clan and those Sunday dinners.
Even before Janie fumbles by intervening, the animosity spills over into a feud with her soon-to-be sister-in-law and New York County Deputy D.A. Erin Reagan (Bridget Moynahan) over an seemingly inconsistent police report that Eddie wrote of a murder case witness’ statement. As Selleck’s NYPD Commissioner Frank Reagan struggles with writing a toast for the wedding rehearsal dinner, chaos reigns in his office as the top cop’s inner circle start a bickering match of their own.
While now eldest brother Det. Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) and his partner Detective First Grade Maria Baez (Marisa Ramirez) try to solve a case of a hook-up gone fatally wrong, patrol cop Jamie goes to his father to seek advice and reassurance before the big day.
“Find opportunities to lead us to adjusting to her,” Frank tells his son of Eddie’s fears she will lose herself to the self-described “part ancient tribe, part wolf pack” of the Reagans.
At the much feared rehearsal dinner with the Reagan clan and Eddie’s mother and family, Frank tries to set his future daughter-in-law at ease by praising her decision to give herself away at the church. Despite his continuing concerns that his son and his wife to-be ride together as police officers, the Selleck portrayed Commissioner also whole heartedly welcomes the Vanessa Ray played police officer’s “candor and strength” to the family.
Finally wrapping up the subplots, including that on-the-take witness that Officer Janko caught out, the David M. Barrett directed and Brian Burns penned episode gets us to the church as the nervous brothers and their ex-commissioner grandfather Henry (Len Cariou) await Eddie to walk down the aisle – which she does with Frank.
“I’ll always have your six o’clock” Frank promises Eddie when she asks him to hold on to her as they go down the center of the NYC Catholic church the aisle after she admits that she been having a nightmare she’ll trip on her gown and “faceplant.”
The original Magnum P.I. spoke with me about tonight’s Season 9 finale, getting renewed for a tenth season and why he thinks Blue Bloods truly works so well year after year.
DEADLINE: So, now that Frank Reagan looks to have a new daughter-in-law, how would you rate Season 9 of Blue Bloods?
SELLECK: (LAUGHS) Well, the season was like most of them, which I’ve come to actually enjoy.
You know, I don’t have a lot of…we call it having a say, but I don’t have a lot of input on where the show’s going. So, for me as a character, it’s kind of interesting to see what Frank’s confronted with.
DEADLINE: The numbers still look very good this far into your run and heading to a tenth season …
SELLECK: Yes, as far as I know, the show, other than one night in nine seasons, we’ve won the night every week. So, that’s pretty good and I’m very proud of that. The one night we didn’t win was when Caitlin Jenner and Dianne Sawyer did their first interview. As for Frank. I think it’s a continual evolution. He’s still the same guy, but he’s confronted with different things.
DEADLINE: In this week of cancellations and last-minute renewals, not getting another season is never one thing you guys look to be confronted by, is it?
SELLECK: Well, we were in limbo for a long time. CBS has a different timetable than I do on when the show should be picked up.
DEADLINE: You weren’t happy when CBS picked up the show for another year last month and you inked a deal for one more year?
SELLECK: Well, let me say publicly, they didn’t offer me a two-year deal, and I don’t know why. I signed up for a year because that’s what they were offering. I love the show. Don’t tell CBS that because I got to be a good negotiator.
DEADLINE: Is there any chance you wouldn’t have come back at all to Blue Bloods?
SELLECK: Let me say that it’s not like you can get a new detective and bring him to the family dinner table. These people are related. So, as long as my fellow actors wanted to come back, and that was my only real criteria, I was coming back.
DEADLINE: So why the prolonged negotiations, if the core case of the Reagan clan were all on board?
SELLECK: It just took that long to negotiate a deal with our bosses, understandably. CBS really has a new structure and organization, and maybe that’s why it took them so long. But we did achieve something, something that was my pet peeve.
DEADLINE: Which was?
SELLECK: One of the things I said is I want a separate announcement. I’m sick of this. We picked up six shows, and oh, yeah, Blue Bloods is one of them from the network. I think we’ve earned our own announcement and we got that.
DEADLINE: So how long could you see the show going? 12 seasons? 15 seasons?
SELLECK: Look, as long as the characters are allowed to grow and change, I think it’s limitless. If you do the same story in Season 10 that is very similar to one Donnie had in Season 1, it’s going to be a totally different story because Donnie has changed, and Donnie has evolved. That makes it wonderfully limitless in my opinion. We had the same thing on Magnum. I wasn’t ever tired of it.
Here, the simple fact is it was great to know the heart of our show wanted to come back. It’s also great to know, as far as I know so far, that we have the whole universe coming back. You’re talking about, from top to bottom, a cast of really good, strong actors playing all sorts of roles.
DEADLINE: With that, why do you think Blue Bloods has such wide appeal week after week, year after year?
SELLECK: I know a lot of people talk about the Reagans themselves and the roles they play together and individually as a police family but I think it’s more than just family. Obviously, that’s a major, major part of it but I think also it’s because it’s a character-driven show.
Yeah, there are procedural elements to it, but it all comes together in how it affects those characters. I think all of those separate arcs of a given story come together at family dinner. It’s a wonderful experience to have a long run at a character where you’re allowed to do a character-driven show, and I think that’s why we’re all so hooked into it.
You know, on Magnum, I always felt the strength of it was Magnum had a secret conversation with the audience.
DEADLINE: How so?
SELLECK: He’d go talk to somebody and lie to them, and then he’d get out and get in his car, and say, I know what you’re thinking. I shouldn’t have lied. So he confided in the audience.
In this case, the audience, thinking they have a secret, even though sometimes they’re wrong and sometimes, frankly, they’re misdirected, is a big thing for them. If a subject comes up at that dinner table, we have discussions before we start any given scene to say who knows why we’re here at the table? Do you know Frank’s problem?
DEADLINE: I’ll bite, what was Frank’s problem this season?
SELLECK: He started off on a very bad foot with Eddie and Jamie. You know, he tries very hard at family dinner when he’s home he tries to leave the commissioner at the office, unless the subject lends towards cop philosophy or cop discussion or something, and it often does. But when they announced they were going to get married, he couldn’t help but blurt out, well, that means you can’t be partners anymore, and that set off a lot of stuff with Jamie. That’s probably a two-season arc, though, in many ways.
As for Vanessa, she’s been so good.
Look, I’ve been with close families in the old days when I was dating someone and you’re invited to their home. It’s intimidating, and a family like the Reagans are pretty intimidating. You’re going to have to earn your space at the table, and frankly, that’s always been, since she came to the table, the case. Eddie gets a little lost, and she says the wrong thing, and Vanessa’s just terrific, and I think that’ll continue to go on.
DEADLINE: See to me, it’s the subplots as much as the overall narrative that make the show work …
SELLECK: I understand that, which was important for this episode.
SELLECK: Because CBS are promoting a wedding. Half the time, Kevin Wade and I find ourselves saying how do we keep the network from giving it away in their promotions? In this case, there’s a wedding but there are still a lot of other wrinkles going on, and things outside the church that Kevin worked very hard on. It puts a dynamic to the wedding other than just sweetness and light, you know?
DEADLINE: Still, unless not actually seeing Eddie and Jamie get married in the finale is indicative of something for next season, you guys don’t go for the cliffhanger in your finales, why?
SELLECK: When we did our final Magnum episode, we finally could get genuine jeopardy to Thomas Magnum because he could die. Then and now, what I like to work on is giving audiences a lot of credit for being smart rather than stupid, they know what’s going on, Joe 6-pack and his wife are trying to figure out what’s really going on here, and that comes out of the subtext of the scene. So, in a season finale, because everybody does it, you’re really saying somebody’s going to die.
That isn’t going to work here
Why are the Reagans arguing at the dinner table? The jeopardy in our show is a danger to the relationships. You can get momentary jeopardy to a character and a tense life-threatening situation, but you can’t even hang a whole show on that. What you can hang it on is an audience’s sense of anticipation based on what they want and what appears to not be happening.
Kevin and I have talked quite a lot about Magnum, the final episode and things like this We’re pretty much in sync all the time. That’s why in this season’s finale, we don’t show the whole wedding ceremony. How are we going to beat Charles and Di splendor or pomp? So you need some sort of conflict or concern or something to make that kind of scene work like with Eddie and Frank or something else.
DEADLINE: On the subject of something else, that whole story of Frank’s inner circle of Det. Abigail Baker (Abigail Hawk), Garrett Moore (Gregory Jbara) and Lt. Sidney Gormley (Robert Clohessy) squabbling was almost a Three Stooges routine waiting to happened, both insightful and very funny…
SELLECK: My friend and mentor James Garner used to say I don’t do comedy. I do humor. It’s based on a reality. There’s a certain humor in what’s happening with Frank’s inner circle.
The trick is you’ve got to keep a reality. You can’t just do shtick, and again, if we did it right, here’s what happens. His inner circle have a genuine disagreement and they keep it from Frank. First, they get hurt that they weren’t included with Baker’s plan. Then they get angry, and then they get petty, and the humor comes down to that pettiness. But what we find out, what I hope we find is there’s a change in the middle of the show. Because this is Frank’s inner circle, and he really lays down the law, and I hope it comes off in a very real way.
There’s an outside element that ends up being inside the show if you’re aware of it where you are, but also, I guess we’re manipulating people, that’s what we do for a living isn’t it?
DEADLINE: That could be the title of the memoir that was recently announced you’re writing. How is it going?
SELLECK: (LAUGHS) It’s going fine. I personally had always said, when approached, that, I didn’t get a big break and then got strung out on drugs or kill my puppy or anything and then resurrected a career. You know, I’m not sure my life is worth a memoir, and I hope I always retain some sense of modesty. But enough people were coming to me and saying you really ought to. You have 50 years in show business. You have a lot to share. So, I finally agreed but I’m struggling with it.
It’ll take a while.