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I just finished rewatching this on YouTube after having seen it on its original run in 1976, then on late night reruns at least 20 years ago. Don't let the title fool you, it's got nothing to do with the Dick Wolf franchise except also being about the NYPD. It actually more resembles another later, long-running series, BLUE BLOODS, about a multigenerational family of NYPD cops of Irish descent.
Darren McGavin (best remembered as Kolchak the Night Stalker and the dad in A CHRISTMAS STORY) plays Deputy Chief Brian O'Malley Jr., a second-generation cop, and Whitney Blake (best remembered as Dorothy on the sitcom HAZEL and for being Meredith Baxter's mom) plays his wife. Art Hindle plays their son Patrick, a recently discharged Army veteran and now a rookie patrolman. Robert Reed of THE BRADY BUNCH is one of a number of 1970s all-stars who make up the rest of the cast.
It doesn't just remind me of BLUE BLOODS. It actually wouldn't take much rewriting other than changing the surname of O'Malley to Reagan, with Deputy Chief Brian O'Malley Jr. becoming Henry Reagan and Officer Patrick O'Malley becoming Francis Reagan, for this to be a PREQUEL to BLUE BLOODS, a generation earlier. The only major change to the backstory would be that Mary Ellen O'Malley, Brian Jr.'s wife and Patrick's mother, is the daughter of a rich NYC political boss, while recently revealed BLUE BLOODS series canon has Betty Reagan, Henry's wife and Frank's mother, as an Irish-born immigrant from a huge, poor family. Otherwise it's an almost perfect fit. Brian Jr. isn't squeaky clean, especially early in his career, like Henry Reagan often alludes to in BLUE BLOODS.
The one serious problem I have that keeps me from giving this miniseries 10 stars is that of 50something and 40something actors playing the same characters in flashbacks as teenagers and 20somethings. There are flashbacks to when McGavin's and Blake's characters first meet when he's supposed to be a rookie cop in mid 20s and she's supposed to be 17; McGavin was 53 or 54 and Blake was 49 or 50 when they filmed it. Who were they trying to kid??? Blake's daughter Meredith Baxter was 28 or 29 at the time and SHE would've been to old to play the character at that age! Robert Reed, Alan Arbus, James Olson and several other characters playing Brian Jr.'s contemporaries also play the same characters in the flashbacks. Scott Brady, who appears in those flashbacks as Brian O'Malley SENIOR was 2 years younger than McGavin. Other than haircuts and Arbus having a mustache as an older man, only the uniforms and rank insignia, the vehicles driven, and the clothing of the civilian characters offered any indication of what was a flashback and when it occurred, and it was troublesome; the attempt to make the characters appear younger in the flashbacks was an epic fail.
But as a story, it was gritty, compelling and rang true. Other reviewers may wonder if this was a pilot for a series and speculate that it would have been successful. Perhaps in a sense it was, 34 years later as BLUE BLOODS even though there was no evident intent.
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