In praise of the writers

I’m just coming down from a rather intense Blue Bloods high, after having binged Season 4 on Netflix. Not exactly sure what prompted me to start watching this one, but it hooked me right away… perhaps it was Tom Selleck, whom I have long adored as an actor, or perhaps it’s because at heart and always I’m a New York City boy.

Commissioner Frank Reagan, played by Tom Selleck

Mr. Selleck, as usual, plays an excruciatingly ethical character. He seems to ooze goodness, even when his rôles portray very human (with all the warts) individuals. And the lines he delivers leave one breathlessly hoping that there really are people like Commissioner Frank Reagan out there.

But those lines… well, they aren’t really his. He takes them from the script, and makes them his own, and follows the director’s guidance, and delivers them with incredible grace and stolidity and aplomb, much like Patrick Stewart does as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but they were written by someone else. Or several someones. And it is not lost on me that an incredible speech or soliloquy delivered by Mr. Selleck or Sir Patrick are lines from the minds of people who only get a single line of text as credit for each episode. People in the background, whose faces we never see, but people who deserve just as much praise as those in front of the camera.

Picard’s line, “The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity” probably came from Brannon Braga, Rick Berman, or Ronald Moore. The incredible soliloquy by Soren in the TNG episode, “The Outcast,” was likely written by Jeri Taylor, who also wrote “The Drumhead.” Melinda M. Snodgrass examined in excruciating detail the issues of what defines a human being as a free agent or property. And unless there’s some unrevealed ad-libbing in Blue Bloods, every amazing thing that Frank Reagan says (along with all the other recurring characters) came from the pen of a writer.

Now, forgive me for waxing a bit scriptural here, but in the New Testament book of Matthew we read,

“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”

(Matthew 7:17)

Good fountains don’t bring forth bitter water. Bad human beings don’t write the amazing kinds of things one hears in TV dramas like this. Someone who is not dedicated to the cause of humanity clawing itself out of the mud and reaching for the stars can’t write like this.

In the end, the outstanding quality of a show like Blue Bloods, or the Next Generation, or Fringe depends on everything coming together – producers, directors, writers, actors, cameramen, editors, sound technicians, stunt people, special effects people… the whole ball of wax. It’s seldom that you get everything clicking just right. But it’s usually the thoughts behind the show that provide the biggest takeaway, and for those feelings that we are left with we have the writers to thank.

Hats off!

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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