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Blue Bloods boss: It's harder now to tell stories about good cops

Showrunner Kevin Wade talks about the challenges of making a modern police procedural

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Craig Blankenhorn/CBS

Blue Bloods is in a tough spot. Like any show focusing on police work, the series — now entering its seventh season — must grapple with today’s perceptions about law enforcement. “It’s more of a challenge than it was two or three years ago to tell stories that revolve around good cops,” showrunner Kevin Wade says of the police-procedural/family-drama hybrid, which returns to CBS on Friday, Sept. 23 at 10 p.m. E.T. 

“We’re being sensitive to the climate that we’re in, and we’re going to have to drive through those stories,” Wade continues. “There can be no political correctness here, and there’s never been any taking sides one way or the other, but [we need] to be aware that there’s a deep microscope on urban police departments, so that’s been a challenge, but I think a challenge [that will play to] our characters who we place on the same day in the same year as the audience that watches the show.”

That’s not to say the show is ripped from the headlines. “We’ve never brought in a headline regarding a police action or something and said, ‘Let’s do our version of this,’” Wade explains. “We generally go the other way, where we do research, we follow certain blogs, and we certainly talk to a lot of cops…We try to get information where you go, ‘Now this is an interesting story,’ and two or three times per season we’ll do it, and a month, two months, or three months later it will happen in real life. So we’d rather be on that side of the clairvoyant scale.”

Keep all that in mind as Det. Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) comes under scrutiny from the Attorney General’s office in Albany after the fatal shooting of serial killer Thomas Wilder (Louis Cancelmi). That catalyzes a career crisis and brings about questions for Danny like, as Wade details, “What am I doing here? I took this bad guy off the streets, I did it cleanly, I did it by the book, and I’m being double and triple guessed on this?” Wade’s intention, here, isn’t to push Danny into a “rogue cop cliché,” but instead strive to answer a question: “Can I do what I’m trained to do and what I love to do in the climate that I find myself in?” We await a verdict…and look forward to some new faces. 

Michael Imperioli and Lori Loughlin will guest star in the upcoming season premiere, with Imperioli set to return and Loughlin believed to return. Imperioli will play a character working in the Attorney General’s office who’s looking into the shooting Danny was involved in. Loughlin, Wade says, “created a wonderful character that is one of the pieces of gold that we can throw at Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck), which is a widow whose cop husband had been killed in the line of duty and whose son has entered the department.”

“It’s clear in the episode and in their relationship that Frank turned out to be a bit of a surrogate father to this kid, which implies certainly that he grew a relationship with the widow,” he explains, “so I think that there’s a strong possibility that we’ll come back around to that relationship.” 

Beyond all that, Wade promises much more ahead. “The beauty of Leonard Goldberg’s creation — the format and the characters and the family — is that we have a huge latitude,” he explains. “Cop stories are great story engines.”