Blue Bloods' 15 Minute Family Dinners are Actually Taking Forever to Shoot

Blue Bloods' 15 Minute Family Dinners are Actually Taking Forever to Shoot
Image credit: CBS

The Reagan family dinners have been a constant part of Blue Bloods episodes from the beginning, and turned out to be one of the most popular features of the series, allowing the family both to share notes on their cases and to maintain their bonds with each other.

However, filming these scenes is more difficult that most viewers can assume.

For example, though each dinner scene only takes about 15 minutes or less, filming them requires up to five hours. The camera crew has to get closeups and coverage for nine different characters, after all. And as to maintain continuity, they have to re-set the table and food on it after each take, which also consumes time.

Of course, the cast has to deal not only with being kept in one place for hours, but also with the need to eat the real food on the table, while maintaining their weight.

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As they have relayed in a collective interview, they're often using spit buckets to dispose of excess food. Some of the actors eat only vegetables, and avoid the meat portions of the dinner. Tom Selleck, however, is a notable exception. As he said:

"I start off with the meat."

Some vegetables, though, caused problems. For example, they eventually had to eliminate broccoli from the dinner menu. Donnie Wahlberg, who plays Danny Reagan, noted, without going into too much details:

"We're not going to go there because after three hours [broccoli] becomes problematic, you see."

Actors also eventually have learned tricks to help them during filming of the dinner scenes. Tom Selleck, for example, often butters his bread whenever the camera was on him, which allows him to avoid eating too much, and maintain continuity of the prop food, and other actors consider that his trademark move. Selleck himself denies doing it all the time, but "…I always make sure the butter is down at my end. So I can if I choose to".

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There are other minor filming difficulties as well. For example, while the prop food is real, the prop silverware is actually made from plastic. Forks, spoons and knives from real silver were used in early episodes, but they apparently clanged against the plates too loudly.