Tuned In: 'Blue Bloods' explores both sides of thin blue line

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Fall TV premiere week comes to a close with "Blue Bloods," a CBS drama about a family of cops, but it's not really a crime procedural in the "CSI" vein.

Instead, "Blue Bloods" (10 tonight, KDKA-TV) is more of a family drama with police work as the backdrop. The pilot is a little stodgy in its pacing, but the series offers a welcome alternative to NBC's terrible courtroom drama "Outlaw," which seems to be taking place in an alternate America.

"Blue Bloods," by comparison, is down to earth. Tom Selleck stars as New York police commissioner Frank Reagan, whose soft-spoken but tough demeanor suggests a fair amount of rage boiling just below the surface. A widower, Frank lost one cop son in the line of duty (or was it a conspiracy perpetrated by dirty cops?) and his youngest, Jamie (Will Estes, "American Dreams"), joins the force tonight.

Son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg, "The Kill Point") is a detective who illegally coerces a confession in tonight's premiere much to the chagrin of Danny's assistant district attorney sister, Erin (Bridget Moynahan). A family supper erupts into an argument about enhanced interrogation techniques with grandpa Henry (Len Cariou) arguing that laws against police brutality "protect the criminals" while Erin says the law "protects society from a police state."

For a network whose dramas usually traffic dialogue about DNA results, "Blue Bloods" showcases a surprising amount of character-driven storytelling. The potential police department conspiracy pushes "Blue Bloods" into more sudsy territory than necessary, but at least this show marks another attempt by CBS, following "The Good Wife" last year, to expand its offerings beyond paint-by-number crime dramas.

Early line on ratings

Fox's "Lone Star," fall's best new broadcast network drama, bombed in its debut Monday night with a little more than 4 million viewers. The cancellation clock already is ticking, although Fox will air at least one more episode next week. By comparison, CBS's "Hawaii Five-0" won the 10 p.m. time slot with more than 14 million viewers.

CBS's "Mike & Molly," starring Swissvale's own Billy Gardell, got off to a promising start with more than 12 million viewers, and NBC's "The Event" averaged more than 11 million viewers.

Fox's "Glee" returned with winning ratings -- more than 12 million viewers and a high concentration of younger viewers prized by advertisers -- while newcomers "Raising Hope" and "Running Wilde" lost a fairly large chunk of those "Glee" fans.

ABC's "Detroit 1-8-7" got off to an OK start, landing in second place behind CBS's "NCIS: LA" but ahead of NBC's "Parenthood."

On Wednesday, ABC received good ratings news and bad ratings news: Comedy "Modern Family" achieved series high ratings across the board with more than 12 million viewers while new legal drama "The Whole Truth" bombed, drawing just 4.9 million viewers in preliminary ratings. Opposite "The Whole Truth," CBS's "The Defenders" opened with 12.1 million viewers.

ABC's "The Middle" (8.8 million viewers) and newcomer "Better With You" (8 million) held up decently against No. 1 "Survivor" (12.5 million) and newcomer "Undercovers" (8.6 million) on NBC.

Ratings from Thursday night's faceoff between CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" and NBC's "Community" will be available this morning and posted to my Twitter and Facebook pages. Follow me on either social media site under RobOwenTV.

HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" averaged 4.8 million viewers on Sunday, the network's best series debut since "Deadwood" six years ago. HBO renewed "Boardwalk" for a second season Tuesday morning.

PBS classic on DVD

"Joseph Campbell: The Power of Myth," a classic PBS series hosted by Bill Moyers, was released on DVD ($49.99, Acorn Media Group) this week with extras that include never-before-released conversations between Mr. Campbell and Mr. Moyers from "Bill Moyers' Journal," selections from Mr. Moyers' interview with "Star Wars" creator George Lucas and a 12-page viewers' guide.

Ad movie screens locally

The Media Association of Pittsburgh, formerly the Pittsburgh Radio & Television Club, will host a screening and reception for the documentary film "Art & Copy," about the creative process of making TV commercials, Wednesday, 6-10 p.m., at The University Center at Point Park University.

Tickets are $30 and the price includes admission to the film, hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Reservations should be made by Monday via e-mail to meisengart@lamar.com or visit mediapittsburgh.com.

Channel surfing

USA Network has renewed "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" for a 10th and final season with Vincent D'Onofrio back on the series after the departure of Jeff Goldblum. ... MTV's "The Real World" will return to Las Vegas for its 25th season that airs in March. ... Showtime has renewed "The Big C" and "Weeds." After the current cycle, new episodes will air next year. ... History will debut the "Ice Road Truckers" spinoff, "IRT Deadliest Roads," at 10 p.m. Oct. 2. ... A new family film, "Hachi: A Dog's Tale," debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday on Hallmark Channel. ... "Greg and Donny," an Internet show out of Johnstown that showcases characters with a Yinzer accent (www.greganddonny.com), is an official selection of this week's New York Television Festival. ... A crew from National Geographic Channel's "Taboo" will visit Jerry Weber and his Jerry's Records shop in Squirrel Hill today and Saturday for a new season that explores collectors and hoarders. ... Upcoming hosts on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" include Amy Poehler with musical guest Katy Perry this weekend, guest host Bryan Cranston with Kanye West on Oct. 2 and Jane Lynch with Bruno Mars on Oct. 9. ... "CBS Sunday Morning" is expected to repeat an Emmy-nominated segment on the City of Franklin's 2009 Rock In River Fest Stone Skipping Championship this weekend. ... Anndrea Ruggers of Morgantown, W.Va., will appear on "The Price Is Right" on Oct. 5.

Tuned In Podcast

Tuned In Podcast returns this week with discussion of the new TV season, including "Glee," "Lone Star," "Boardwalk Empire" and more. Listen or subscribe at post-gazette.com/podcast.


This week's TV Q&A responds to questions about ""V," "The Wendy Williams Show" and WTAE's "Viewpoint 4." Read it online in Tuned in Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv.

TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.


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