A fixed element in the series, the gathering is the occasion for debates over whatever plot-driven issue the family is dealing with, such as the rights of criminals or vigilante justice.

One of the pleasures of the series is its great use of authentic New York locations.  After many years of seeing the city through the familiar lens of so many Law & Order episodes, the series manages to show us a different, at times brighter, depiction, making the sprawling city a character all its own as the audience gets to do a ride along through the city.

CBS has done well in the ratings by offering procedural series like the CSI and NCIS franchises that feature a familiar team whose members function something like a family, working on the case of the week.  Blue Bloods has a main case every week but its cast of characters really are family. 

As such, there's a more recognizable warmth and tension beneath the weekly dinner table arguments—these are character who've known each other for many years and who have to tolerate their relations more than they would a co-worker.  And unlike so many crime-based shows on cable, Blue Bloods avoids extremes of bad behavior, like The Shield's corrupt main characters.  Danny may lose his temper and call perps names, but he's ultimately a good cop. 

This makes the series a safe bet; because it plays it safe, there's rarely a sense in which the status quo feels threatened and this makes it very traditional and easily accessible television.  There has been a running subplot featuring Jamie's involvement in a secret investigation into a society of rogue cops that might include Danny, called the Blue Templars, but that seems to get about one scene an episode.

As such, many viewers will feel comfortable with the Reagans, if rarely challenged by their stories. Given that the large, likeable cast and family dynamics set in a law enforcement narrative will make for a host of story ideas, it's likely that Blue Bloods will be around for a long time.

*This Review First Published 12/3/2010