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Blue Bloods: In All Things Obduration

In Recaps on February 27, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) in “Age of Innocence,” Friday night’s “Blue Bloods” episode. (Screen cap)

The humanization of Frank Reagan continued on Friday night’s episode of Blue Bloods, as the CBS drama offered a few small-but-important reminders that Tom Selleck’s character isn’t always so damn perfect.

Since Blue Bloods debuted in September, one of my gripes with the show has been its tendency to elevate Frank, the New York City police commissioner, to superhuman status.

Frank rarely loses his temper, he seems to have the right words for every occasion and like all good New Yorkers, he always remembers the neediest – whether it’s helping to exonerate his office cleaning lady’s wrongly arrested son or reading ancient Arabian poetry at the bedside of an ailing Pakistani American cop.

But in Age of Innocence, Friday night’s Blue Bloods installment, Frank actually treated someone not-so-nicely!

Twice!

The first moment occurred near the beginning of the episode, when Sue Connors (Noelle Beck), the mayor’s new public relations guru, dropped by Frank’s office to discuss her proposal to capitalize on the publicity Frank has received since recovering from a mob family’s assassination attempt in the previous episode.

Sue explained the “deluge of media interest” in Frank has been like nothing she has seen in her career: Vanity Fair wanted to publish an in-depth feature on Frank, GQ offered him a spread and New York magazine invited him to appear on the cover of its 10 most eligible men issue.

After Sue outlined these options, Frank dismissed them all.

“I’ve heard you’re publicity shy, but like it or not, commissioner, this latest incident puts you on the national radar. You’re a hero,” Sue said.

“Getting shot didn’t make me a hero,” Frank responded.

“Well, the mayor feels this kind of exposure would be very good for New York.”

“You mean the mayor feels that it might be useful during the upcoming election.”

“And that would be useful for both of you.”

Frank soon declared the meeting over; as Sue rose from her chair, she offered him a parting gift: a piece of her mind.

“You know what I think?” she asked.

“I have no idea what you think,” Frank snapped.

Bam!

There we had our first split-second glimpse of humanity: Frank Reagan was actually rude to someone!

And that “someone” was a lady, no less!

Selleck delivered the line with his eyes almost closed, as he if it was all he could do to not physically toss Beck’s character out of the room.

I suspect viewers were meant to sympathize with Frank’s good-natured humility – and I suppose his reluctance to not to want to use his shooting to advance his career was admirable – but let’s face it: This Sue Connors lady was only doing her job.

Frank’s rudeness was unwarranted – and I quietly cheered when she let him know it, telling him: “I think you’re dug into a position and you think it’s a sign of weakness to change your mind – and I resent your obdurateness.”

(By the way: Am I the only one who paused the episode at this point to look up the word “obdurate”? For the sake of my fragile ego, I sure hope not.)

Sue appeared in Age of Innocence once more, this time at the end of the episode, when she saw Frank and his daughter Erin (Bridget Moynahan) having breakfast in a restaurant and stopped at their table.

The scene offered the episode’s second brief reminder that beneath those pinstriped three-piece suits, Frank may not be sporting a big “S” on his chest after all.

“I didn’t mean to disturb your breakfast,” Sue said.

“And yet here we are,” Frank responded.

Bam!

He was rude again!

Sue explained that she only wanted to apologize for the way their first meeting ended; Frank sighed and responded, “Well, it takes two. And I do tend to dig in.”

Cut to Erin at the table, putting a forkful of blueberry French toast into her mouth while wearing a classic “that’s-an-understatement” expression.

(Kudos to Moynahan, who conveyed more with that look than many actresses could have with 43 pages of dialogue.)

When Sue left the table, Frank and Erin’s conversation turned to the subject of his love life.

Erin noted that it’s been awhile since her mother – Frank’s wife Mary – died;  “Do you think it’s time you start thinking about moving on?” Erin asked.

“How do you know I haven’t?” Frank responded.

Blue Bloods fans know Frank was referring to that blonde TV news reporter he secretly dated at the beginning of the season, but it seems the exchange was also meant to foreshadow a relationship between Frank and Sue.

It seems likely she could return to the show and continue her love/hate, will-they-or-won’t-they relationship with Frank.

It’s a fairly tired plot device, but if Frank’s antagonist relationship with Sue helps further humanize his character, then I promise to not complain.

Selleck is so good, and he deserves more than a one-note, too-good-to-be-true character.

Besides, Beck is a fine actress – she’s a vet of the New York-based daytime soaps – and she and Selleck seem to have pretty good chemistry; I would welcome her return to Blue Bloods.

Other observations from Age of Innocence:

• Another week with no incremental Blue Templar storyline.

• As usual, the main storyline was given to Donnie Wahlberg and Jennifer Esposito’s characters, detectives Danny Reagan and Jackie Curatola, who investigated the death of a young girl outside a debutante ball.

It was standard CBS crime drama stuff; it’s too bad Blue Bloods continues devoting the bulk of its airtime each week to boilerplate episodic plots like this instead of spending more time developing promising characters like Erin, Frank and his dad Henry (Len Cariou).

• Speaking of Frank and Henry: The father-and-son had a nice scene in the episode, when Frank lamented the mayor’s attempt to “turn him into a hero.”

“We could use one,” Henry replied.

Dude, are you not watching Blue Bloods?

Even when he’s being rude to nice p.r. ladies like Sue Connor, Frank is still the most heroic guy on TV.

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