Last year, Will Estes compared Blue Bloods' Blue Templar story line to The Godfather. This year? He'll be dealing with a crime family on the show.
"Isn't it funny how things turn out?" Estes tells TVGuide.com. "I'm really excited because there's a lot to tap into in organized crime and it's something that could work really well for us."
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In the Season 2 premiere, Jamie (Estes) will go on his first undercover assignment at a bar — sniffing out whether it's selling drugs and alcohol to minors — and ends up befriending the mysterious Noble (Eric Morris), a member of the Sanfino family. But Jamie only learns this later when his dad, Frank (Tom Selleck), brings up their meeting.
"Frank finds out Noble thanked Jamie for helping out at the bar and Jamie says, 'How do you know this?' And Frank says, 'His phones are tapped. He's part of a Mafia family,'" executive producer Leonard Goldberg says. "So inadvertently, Jamie has become friends with one of those guys. The guy has been trying to call him to thank him and invites him out for another night, and it's a big risk and decision for Jamie — he decides he's going to remain friends with him to see how far it goes."
Goldberg and his fellow producers are also playing a waiting game with the story line. The hope is for it to be a running arc through the season, like how the Blue Templar/dirty cops one was last year. While fan interest in the Blue Templar story somewhat waned toward the end of Season 1, Goldberg doesn't think that will be the case here.
"The Blue Templar was a mystery and [that involves doling out] pieces of information at a certain pace, here and there. This one is not a mystery," Goldberg says. "We know they're a crime family, so it's about what can happen if you're involved with one. I think this will be a more intriguing story for Jamie and the fans. As it progresses, I think it's going to turn out well. We're going to see a lot of Jamie. It's going to get dangerous for him. He'll still be doing work as a police officer, but [the Sanfino arc] is going to overtake him."
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Complicating matters is the fact that Jamie meets Noble's sister, who as Goldberg describes, is "very, very attractive" and may either be a Mafia princess or a good girl. "As far as I know now, they're not dating or anything yet, but I'm hoping something comes together," Estes says.
Though neither Goldberg nor Estes feels Blue Bloods needs a running story to keep viewers hooked, they both believe it plays into the "drama" component of the series. "I think episodes of Blue Bloods very much stand on their own a lot of the time, but it's not just a procedural," Estes says. "The show's nature is more character-driven, so for us, as actors, it's nice to have a continual story that we can pick up from week to week, instead of just moving from case to case. That's what makes us unique."
After creators Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess left the show in May, rumors flew that the duo butted heads with CBS over the network's wish to make the show more of a procedural. Goldberg denies the reports and assures that the show is not any more or less of a procedural than it was last year.
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"It's a family drama first and foremost," he says. "Yes, we have a police story, but what makes our show different is the family aspects of it. When we read all the mail we get and when we test the show, the audience is most interested in what happens with the family whether in their personal lives or involving a case like perhaps with this one. It's the emotion that makes it different. They always [name] the dinner scenes as their favorite."
As for those famous Reagan family dinner scenes, they're still around this year — but not as often.
"We haven't shot one for every episode, but the ones we've shot are great," Estes says. "There are no big fights yet, but there's a pretty big moment for Tom in one. He does something he's never done before at the dinner table, so keep your eye out for that."
Blue Bloods premieres Friday at 10/9c on CBS.