One of the most talked about recurring scenes in TV today is the Reagan family on Blue Bloods discussing their problems around a dinner table. These scenes bring back an old trope from family dramas of yore while still staying contemporary via the family discussing very modern issues.
More than a few Blue Bloods fans find these scenes refreshing and a rare chance to see believable family interactions on network TV. Despite the celebration of these dinner scenes, though, they aren’t easy to film.
Back in 2013, Tom Selleck gave away some of the secrets to the dinner scenes and the challenges involved. We almost wish they would have held off giving away those revelations so we don’t think of their “techniques” the next time we see them sitting around their iconic table.
An 8-hour dinner
When People did a profile on the cast and the Blue Bloods dinner scenes six years ago, it was revealed these take a full day to shoot. Eight hours for a dinner scene might sound like director OCD at best. What’s really going on there is capturing all the nuances of dialogue and the reactions.
If you look a little more carefully, you can see the expressions and dialogue are honed to perfection, not including the techniques involved in eating food. In the case of Selleck, he simply can’t eat all the food served when the scenes take place.
Selleck says he finds the dinner scenes “miserable” because of how long they take to film. While the caterers of the food try to keep it fresh with different seasonings, the patriarch of the show doesn’t eat a lot, which is probably all for the better.
Imagine having to pick away at your food doing these scenes to a point where you simply grow sick of eating the same things over and over again. Welcome to the reality of filming a TV show.
The techniques of fake eating
Also revealed was the acting techniques involved in pretending to eat at the table. The cast clearly does a good job, because it all looks spontaneous. What we never knew is each actor has their own unique method of handling their food.
Selleck apparently has a technique of always buttering his bread while he converses. Others cut their food a particular way. Then you have Donnie Wahlberg (Danny Reagan) who apparently eats anything put on his plate. Only he seems to pay for it by feeling a little queasy after eating too many of the same vegetables for an entire day.
Thanks to this dinner table scene analysis, we see how actors make seemingly brief moments like this a true work of art. On the other hand, does it ruin the magic of seeing the Reagans argue together during dinner?
There is one saving grace to the pleasantness of these scenes based on something Selleck said.
Selleck does enjoy the company of the entire cast at the dinner table
Not every scene in Blue Bloods features the Reagan family together. More often than not, they’ll all be shooting separate scenes at different times. Only the scenes at dinner give a chance for the entire cast to sit down as a unit and converse.
According to Selleck from that People profile, he says this is the best part of the dinner scenes to him. We can imagine they’re probably just as chatty when the cameras go off around the table than when in their character personas.
Perhaps we’ll see them all reunite the same way someday when the show finally does end. Many other cast reunions we see lately are usually over lunch or dinner. Hopefully Selleck will be able to attend then and enjoy other foods other than sitting and buttering bread.