CBS just killed off another TV mom

BLUE BLOODS-02102017-0001
Amy Carlson and Donnie Wahlberg of CBS’s “Blue Bloods.”

Kevin Can Wait isn’t the only CBS show to return this fall with a wife and mother missing.

On Friday, the eighth-season premiere of the police drama Blue Bloods wrote off Linda (Amy Carlson), the wife of New York police detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) and daughter-in-law of Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck).

In a twist fans didn’t see coming, Linda, an emergency-room nurse, was revealed, a bit more than halfway through the episode, to have died in the crash of a medical-evacuation helicopter while doing her job.

I can’t say I’m crazy about this development — when I do watch Blue Bloods, which isn’t as often as I once did, I like the dinner-table scenes best, and Carlson’s character, who reminded me of an aunt of mine who also happens to have worked as an ER nurse, was one of my favorite Reagans.

At least Carlson might not have been blindsided, as it appears Kevin Can Wait costar Erinn Hayes was  by the decision to kill off her character, Donna, to make room in the life of Kevin James’ character for his former King of Queens costar, Leah Remini.

As Deadline reported, Carlson’s exit came at the end of her contract. She issued a statement on Twitter expressing gratitude to CBS and to Blue Bloods’ cast and crew. “I am so proud of my contribution to building this series,” she wrote.

And as sudden as Linda’s death appears to have been, her absence appears to have had a profound impact on Wahlberg’s character, who in Friday’s episode was contemplating retirement in the aftermath of the loss.

We may not see Carlson again in Blue Bloods, but it’s unlikely we’ve heard the last of Linda.

Spoiler alert: The rest of this post discusses a major plot point from Sunday’s episode of Showtime’s Ray Donovan.

I may never be happy about TV’s long love affair with dead mothers, which goes all the way back to the days of My Three Sons and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

But on Sunday, Ray Donovan, a drama on CBS’ corporate sibling, Showtime, showed us how it’s done (assuming it needs to be done at all), as it continued what’s been a much longer goodbye to a series regular.

Abby Donovan (Paula Malcomson, Deadwood), who’d been diagnosed with breast cancer last season, was shown taking her own life. After learning Abby had not been chosen in the lottery for a clinical trial of a new treatment, her husband, Ray (Liev Schreiber), reacted typically — and violently — by trying to fix things. Abby, though, had other ideas.

It was a heartbreaking episode, and an Emmy-worthy performance by an actress who’s been too often overlooked. And unlike some offscreen death, it fully honored a character who from the beginning has been one of the best reasons to watch the show.