Thursday, September 6, 2012

Culture 101 (part 5) - Blue Bloods and 9/11

Remember the 1980s?

Ronald Reagan was president (1981 - 1989). And during most of the decade (1980 - 1988), Tom Selleck starred in Magnum, P.I.

Magnum PI stencil
If you missed the show when it was first on the air and/or its reruns (I have all 8 seasons on DVD), it was story of a hunk, Thomas Magnum - a Vietnam vet, a former Navy SEAL, who had suddenly resigned from a promising career in the Navy.

His reason?

"I woke up one day at 33 and realized I had never been 23."
(reference: Magnum, P.I.)

But Thomas Magnum landed in a sweet spot as a security consultant at a millionaire playboy's Hawaiian estate while working on the side as a private eye. He solved mysteries and stopped crimes (mostly for beautiful women) in the paradise of the Aloha State.

And Magnum's boss Robin Masters, highly successful writer of lurid pulp fiction and provider of Magnum's cool pad on his estate Robin's Nest, was hardly ever home. And Magnum got the keys to Robin's red Ferrari (not exactly inconspicuous for a private eye to be driving.) What a deal!

The character of Thomas Magnum was a free spirit and at times a little immature. To balance this "boy" in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts was Jonathan Quayle Higgins III, the caretaker of Robin's Nest. Higgins was the father figure, veteran of World War Two, master of law and order, the consummate Englishman and British soldier, who adored Queen Elizabeth II and admired General Bernard "Monty" Montgomery.  The two balanced each other - like yin and yang.

World War Two and Vietnam vets together in one series ...

And this series was unique in that it may have been the first to celebrate the "Greatest Generation" and World War Two veterans in the character of Jonathan Higgins with the Baby Boomers and Vietnam veterans in the characters of Thomas Magnum and his comrades-in-arms "Rick" Wright and "TC" Calvin.

This series reflected the pop culture of the 1980s and here is the opening scene of this 8-season show:

This series rocketed Tom Selleck to major stardom and later more plum roles. Among them, Quigley Down Under (1990), Monte Walsh (2003), and a favorite TV movie series of mine - Jesse Stone (2005 - 2012).

And as Magnum, P.I. ended in 1988, so did the Reagan years in 1989.
Reagan prepares for farewell address

On the more serious side as the 1980s drew to a close, President Reagan's farewell address sounded a warning for America's future, which included the pop culture. Here are some key excerpts -

"An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? ...
The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America
was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties."

I blogged about this as I kicked off the Culture 101 series - Reagan's Challenge.  And the President gave some advice on how to pass on American values to the following generations:

"And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do."
(reference: Farewell Address to the Nation)

Old fashioned?

And how does President Reagan's warning and advice tie in with Tom Selleck as we approach another anniversary of 9/11 in the 21st century?

Thirty years after Magnum P.I., Tom Selleck now stars in another TV series - Blue Bloods (2010). And he took on the character of Frank Reagan, who comes from an Irish-American family with a long tradition of being police officers. Frank Reagan was a Marine, a Vietnam vet, and an NYPD officer, who rose to Police Commissioner of New York City.

The Reagans on the show seem to heed President Reagan's advice in his 1989 farewell address. The extended family often gather around the dinner table on Sundays having meaningful discussions and debates while reinforcing American values. They are also regular church goers and, when they mention the Name of the Lord, it's not in vain, but with reverence as saying grace.

The scene below, Frank Reagan's father Henry had suffered a heart attack before Thanksgiving. As the patriarch recovers, the family gathers at the hospital for Thanksgiving dinner. Foremost, Henry leads the family in giving thanks to God for His many blessings.

Some camera shots show a picture of the Twin Towers in the background of Commissioner Frank Reagan's office. One of the stories revealed that Frank Reagan with his partner John McKenna were the first responders to 9/11, and they were in the North Tower -  getting people out - when the South Tower collapsed.

Statue of Liberty and WTC at 9/11

The episode - "The Job" - dealt with the cancer death of Frank's former partner, Chief John McKenna, who may have gotten ill from complications of breathing the air at Ground Zero. Frank has survivor's guilt and has trouble sleeping. He reluctantly talks to a psychiatrist about his experiences during 9/11 ...

Where were you on 9/11?

Later, Henry talks to Frank about faith in God and God's work in their family, though they may not always understand it. And Frank later gives a moving eulogy for Chief John McKenna and mentions his partner's bravery during 9/11. Then Frank visits to the September 11 Memorial as closure.

Below is the audio from this part of the episode with some still shots. It's worth a listen and is a wonderful tribute to all the first responders on September 11, who saved many lives, as well as those who wonder why bad things happen to good people. (The episode can be watched here: "Blue Bloods" The Job (2012))

Why God?

This very question was asked by Job. And the Apostle Paul gives a response that we often don't understand why - For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV )

The TV series, Blue Bloods, takes up President's Reagan's challenge as it reinforces American values and culture as well as faith in God and remembering September 11.

And, Lord willing, American culture will continue to be reinforced in this series ...


Previous posts in the Culture 101 series:

Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge (2012)

Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe (2012)

Culture 101 (part 3) - Paul Revere's Ride (2012)

Culture 101 (part 4) - Gold Diggers and the Great Depression (2012)


Related posts on 9/11:

September 11, 2001 - A Survivor's Faith (2011)

Dancing on Top of the World Trade Center (2010)

One Tuesday in September, eight years ago ... (2009)


Photos from:
Wikipedia: WTC and Statue of Liberty, Prep for Reagan's farewell address Magnum P.I. stencil

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for stopping by. Blue Bloods is a favorite, and so is Tom Selleck.