Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Hanging Out with Tom Selleck

magnumpi_shirt[1]-600x600We spent the weekend with Tom Selleck. Not in Hawaii or Paradise or New York. Just in our living room. Apparently we are Selleck groupies.

We haven’t gone completely crazy and run out to buy an RV to “Find Our Away,” as Selleck advises in a commercial. And we aren’t likely to return to Detroit any time soon.

But we are stuck on two of his latest shows – the Jesse Stone saga and Blue Bloods. Both showcase Selleck at his captivating best. Both are easily an ocean away from his role as Magnum P.I., set in Hawaii with Selleck improbably driving around a borrowed Ferrari.

Thomas Magnum was more brawn than brain, relying on his skills as a former U.S. Navy special operations veteran in Vietnam. As Jesse Stone and New York Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, Selleck is all brains. While Magnum had the air of a stud muffin, Stone and Reagan come across as guys with a lot of moxie and tender hearts.

I watched Magnum PI, but to me it was just a few notches away from a sitcom, with predictable plot twists and Magnum constantly extricating himself from one fubar after another. One episode and I was off the couch to mow the lawn or clean out the closet. Not so with the Stone series and Blue Bloods. We binge-watched old episodes and the season opener for Blue Bloods. I forgot to mow the lawn.

Selleck has lost the high-pitched voice of Magnum and now speaks with a deeply resonant, Scotch and coffee voice. But it is absorbing characters that keep you glued to your seat. And he still has that almost-porn star mustache.

The Jesse Stone stories, mostly written by Robert Parker, revolve around a complex personality who drinks too much after being jilted by his wife and loses his job on the Los Angeles Police Department. His last professional stop is as police chief of a backwater Massachusetts town where he is hired by a mayor waist deep in money laundering for the mob.

In Blue Bloods, Selleck is the police commissioner in the “family business.” His father was police commissioner and two sons are on the force. A third son died in the line of duty. His daughter is a prosecutor.

jesseStone isn’t a conventional police officer, but he isn’t washed up either. He uses his “coply intuition” to sniff out the bad guy and isn’t afraid to stir the pot – or kick someone in the groin – to get his man. He also has a sensitive streak, which his chain-smoking psychiatrist calls a “hyper sense of responsibility.”

Reagan is a dyed-blue-in-the-wool New York cop, with a liberal streak and a conscience. He refuses to let budget cuts cashier a police mentor program for first-time youth offenders. He deplores inattentive law enforcement that has allowed gangs to lord over low-income tenements.

_59443_MediumSelleck doesn’t hog the camera in either series, allowing other stories and characters to play out. The result is a rich fabric instead of a one dimensional TV drama. Plot lines are topical, such as discrimination against Muslims and sex trafficking. Characters, especially Donnie Wahlberg’s portrayal of Detective Danny Reagan, are convincing and captivating. When Selleck is the center of a moment on both shows, he doesn’t disappoint, with an understated, believable and emotionally tugging delivery.

I don’t care much for the Detroit Tigers (his team), USC (his alma mater), RVs (his commercial squeeze) or the NRA (apparently his passion). Despite that, I like Selleck, enough so to invite him into our house for the weekend.


One comment on “Hanging Out with Tom Selleck

  1. Bob Conklin
    October 7, 2014

    I haven’t seen him in many dramatic roles or series, but I did enjoy his cameos on “Friends.” Nice write-up!

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