Like every other red-blooded "Blue Bloods" fan, you want to know what's next. Yes, the Writers Guild strike has ended, but the Screen Actors Guild strike continues, and all scripted series will be sidelined until that one's resolved.
This is certain: The long-running cop drama returns Friday (10 p.m., CBS/2) with the first of a string of repeats rebranded as fan-voted "Blue Bloods Classics."
With that in mind, here's what you need to know right now about what's going on with the Reagan family.
What are these "classic" episodes?
CBS curated a list of 10 from the first 12 seasons — none from the 13th — then asked viewers to vote for their favorites via a Facebook poll that closed Sept. 8. Based on the votes, those 10 will air in descending order, with the winning episode tentatively arriving Dec. 1. CBS hasn't said what the final tally for each episode was, but the Facebook page does offer some compelling "Blue's" clues. Receiving the least number of "likes" (589) was Season 12's "Be Smart or Be Dead," which indeed airs Friday. The plot: Frank (Tom Selleck) causes family tension when he assigns Jamie (Will Estes) to guard Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) after a hit is put on him. The most popular as Season 1's finale, "The Blue Templar" (1,200 likes.) An episode partly shot at Youngs Farm in Old Brookville ("Ends Justify the Means," Season 11, Episode 16) and "Family Secrets" (Season 10, Episode 19), both got 1,000 likes. Conclusive evidence that "Blue Templar" has won this straw poll? Probably but I'm going with too-close-to-call.
When will the 14th season arrive?
Even if the SAG/AFTRA strike is over by the end of this week — unlikely — it will be weeks before cameras roll. Television production takes time; moreover, a vast number of support personnel have been displaced by the work stoppage. The best-case-scenario — the very best case — for a 14th season launch remains early 2024, most likely February sweeps.
What cast members will be returning?
Everyone is back, after agreeing to a 25% pay cut last year as a condition of keeping the show in production. By all accounts, "Blue Bloods" is what's called a "happy set" ("Bloods" is largely filmed at Broadway Stages in Greenpoint.)
Might Jennifer Esposito return?
There's been lots of fan speculation (wish fulfillment?) that Esposito's Jackie Curatola — reintroduced in the 13th season finale after a 10-year absence — will return as a regular cast member in the 14th. After they worked on a case together, Jackie, now a police chief on the East End, told her former partner Danny Reagan that their brief reunion "brought back everything I hate about the job but everything I loved about working with you" — perhaps a playful reference to her bitter departure when CBS forced her off the show when she sought to cut her workload because of her struggles with Celiac disease. But money is now a big factor at "Bloods." The show isn't looking to boost costs with prominent new cast additions, so this one might be a long shot. I reached out to superfan Rep. Peter King, who represented LI's 2nd Congressional District until his retirement in 2021, for his thoughts. During the Bayville shoot last spring, which he attended, "they [Wahlberg, Esposito] obviously had to redo scenes and they were laughing when they did. It was total friendship and warmth on the set — the writers, director, and also between Donnie and Jennifer." But he added that he was "unaware" of any plans for a 14th season return.
What about Steve Schirripa?
Yes, there was a recent report at a reputable website suggesting that Schirripa (Det. Anthony Abetemarco) was leaving. King, who also maintains close ties with the cast and crew, his pal Schirripa included, insists there's no basis to the rumor — Schirripa stays! Costs are a huge issue now at "Bloods," but Schirripa is a big part of what makes "Blue" work so well. A departure would seem ill-advised (but then welcome to the new world of network TV).
Now that writers are back at work, any thoughts about a 15th season?
"BB" cast and crew agreed to a 25 percent pay cut as a condition of a 14th season renewal so prospects for a 15th are unknown, but hardly bleak. "Young Sheldon" (7.1 million viewers) was CBS' most-viewed program of the 2022-23 season, while "Bloods" was the 6th (5.9 million). Of those top six, only "Sheldon" and "Ghosts" increased audience, while "Blue Bloods" dropped 1.77% — not bad compared to No. 3 "NCIS" (down nearly 7%) or No. 2 "FBI" (down 7 percent.) Most scripted shows on the networks were down last season, so the "Blue Bloods" decline — by comparison anyway — doesn't look so bad. Depending on how this year goes, prospects for a renewal may be better than average. But here's the curveball — might "Bloods" migrate to Paramount+ if it does come back?