The use of a name is significant in our culture. There are entire chapters in etiquette books devoted to the mode of address and even in our more casual society, the move from a formal salutation to the use of a first name is a sign of growing friendship or trust.

We attach importance to each time Jim calls Blair by his first name not because we need it as proof of either of those things; they're a given, demonstrated in many other ways, but because it's so rare. Blair, almost from the start, calls Jim, 'Jim'. Jim, on the other hand, addresses Blair mostly as 'Sandburg', 'Chief' or by a variety of off-the-cuff nicknames, appropriate to the situation (one of the most memorable being 'my little guppy' as he was about to teach Blair to cast).

This reluctance to call Blair 'Blair' is interesting because it's not a reluctance that Jim shows with other people. Simon is Jim's superior, yet Jim scatters his conversations with him with many uses of his first name, moving between 'Simon' to 'sir' and 'Captain'; he's friends with Simon; he feels at ease with him -- but both of those conditions apply to Blair, too.

So why treat Blair differently? Blair, who's a friend, colleague, roommate, trusted with secrets Jim's never told anyone, not even his wife?

I really don't know. I can come up with theories but it's all speculation. The use of 'Blair' decreases over time which makes me wonder if it's deliberate on the part of the PTB; you'd expect it to be the other way around.

Looking at it purely from a character POV, Jim, ex-Army might be used to calling even his friends by their last name but we see him calling fellow policemen, besides Simon, by their first name.

He could be aware of the fact that it looks a little odd that he and Blair are living together and making sure he doesn't come over as too affectionate -- but he's forever touching Blair so maybe not.

It's baffling.

So first the dry statistics -- and tell me if I missed any.

In 65 episodes, Jim calls Blair by his first name only (I didn't count any of the introductions of him as 'my partner, Blair Sandburg'), either to his face or in conversation with someone else, 31 times.

He does it:

Season One in 4/10 episodes, 8 times total.

Season Two in 7/24 episodes, 16 times total.

Season Three in 3/23 episodes, 5 times total.

Season Four in 2/8 episodes, 2 times total.

The S2 total is skewed by the garage scene in Blind Man's Bluff. In that single scene, Jim says 'Blair' five times; as many as in the whole of Season Three.

Of the 31 times, only 15 are directly spoken to Blair himself (plus the instance in Cypher when he rushes into the loft and calls out Blair's name).

So let's look at the times he does it.

Written by: David L. Newman
Directed by: Danny Bilson
Jim: Yeah, I hear you, Simon. This is a family thing.
Simon: Family?
Jim: Yeah. Blair's my cousin's kid. They've been supporting him through college for the last seven years. They figured if he finally got his doctorate he'd go out and get a job.

I don't attach much weight to this one; Jim's just told Simon that Blair's family; he can't really refer to him by anything but his first name.

The Killers
Written by: Gail Morgan Hickman
Directed by: Bruce Bilson


Jim: Danny!
A gunshot rings out, hitting Danny, who falls off the bike. Jim runs over, grabs Danny and drags him behind a dumpster as another shot pings the side of the dumpster. He looks back around and sees the laser sight going across the truck front window towards Blair who is still sitting there.
Jim: Blair, get down!

This is interesting. It's very early on; Blair isn't even living with Jim yet. We see that Jim is happy to call Danny by his first name; a young man he once mentored, and a colleague, and in a crisis moment it's that name he uses to warn Danny and then he does the same to warn Blair.

'Blair' is quicker to say and there's no doubt that Blair would respond faster to it than a less familiar 'Chief' or even 'Sandburg'.

In the same episode:

~Cut to Simon's office. Simon is chewing out Jim and Blair.~
Simon: (to Jim) You violated his civil rights, for God's sakes! You know what that makes this? A federal case! (to Blair) And you. The only reason your ass isn't in jail is I don't want to waste a cell.
Jim: It's my fault, sir. Blair had nothing to do with this.

I'm not sure what to make of this. Is Jim subtly emphasizing Blair's civilian status? Distancing Blair to protect him? It would fit Jim's character; there's no way he would let Blair get in trouble for helping him, especially as Blair had tried to stop him doing it.


Written by: Laurence Frank
Directed by: Michael Vejar


Jim: I'm the one who blew it, sir. It was my responsibility.
Simon: Look, I know the kid helps you with this sentinel thing, but he is not one of us. Maybe it's time you should think about cutting him loose.
Jim: No, sir. I have to disagree with that call. Blair understands what I'm going through.
Simon: You really trust this kid?
Jim: Yes, sir, I do.

This is Jim firmly placing himself four-square in front of Blair and refusing to move. There's a genuine threat to Blair's Simon-given permission to ride-along and he's meeting it with a simple, forceful certainty about his trust in Blair that had to ring true.

From the same episode:

~Cut back to Jim at his locker, putting on a shirt. His pager at the top of the locker beeps and he pulls it out. Number reads -- 555-1014 911.
~Cut to Jim, gun out, coming in to loft which is totally destroyed inside.~
Jim: Blair?!
~Cut to large warehouse. Blair chained up, gagged, lying on ground. He struggles a moment, then falls back.~

It isn't a constant that when Blair's missing and Jim's searching for him he uses his first name, but here he does. Under the circumstances, it's not surprising that he's worried.

Vow of Silence
Written by: Bruce Kalish
Directed by: Jeffrey Reiner


Blair: Brother Jeremy. It's a pleasure to be back. This is my friend, Jim Ellison. Jim, this is Brother Jeremy, the abbot.
Jim: It's nice to meet you. But when Blair suggested a retreat, the last thing I expected was a monastery. No offense, gentlemen. I was wondering when I could expect a ride, uh, back to my truck.


Jim: Brothers, I apologize for the inconvenience but getting you out of here tonight is the only way that I can assure your safety. I promise I'll do everything I can to get you back here as soon as possible. Now, Blair is warming up the bus. So at any moment...
Blair comes rushing inside and goes to Jim.


Anthony leaves and pulls shut the hatch, locking them inside.
Marcus: Thank you, Brothers, but I think we've just sentenced ourselves to a mass grave.
Jim: That's not going to happen. Blair, check that door.

I've put these three together because they're all pretty much the same. Jim's in a place where he's unknown and it's Blair's turf, so to speak. He uses Blair's name because to the monks, who use their own first names, prefaced with 'Brother', it's appropriate. He softens his approach a little, in effect.
Jim's company manners are showing :-)

Season 2

Flight Written by: Gail Morgan Hickman
Directed by: Danny Bilson


Jim: Let's go. Come on. (they go outside) We're going to need some transportation out of here. You two wait at the motor pool.
Daryl: I want to go with you.
Jim: Daryl, I need you to stay with Blair. I'm going to get your dad. I promise.

This one's because he's being reassuring to Daryl, I think, nothing more.

Out of the Past
Teleplay by: David Newman and Gail Morgan Hickman
Story by: Brad Markowitz
Directed by: Bruce Bilson


Jim: Ma'am, there are plenty of good officers I can place here. I'm going after Weston.
Angie: Uh-huh. I want you here -- or the deal is off.
Pam: Is everything okay, Mom?
Jim: All right, it'll be me and Blair, and I'll post a man downstairs.
Jim: If I catch him now, this whole thing will be over.
Angie: What if he comes back here?
Jim: There's an armed detective in the lobby. He's got a photo of Weston. There's a plain clothes unit on patrol in the area. Blair's going to be here with you. Everything is going to be all right. I will be back in half an hour. (leaves)

Those two examples are interesting. Jim doesn't know Angie and it's an official situation; he's on duty. There's such a contrast between the 'ma'am' and the 'Blair'. Not sure why he uses 'Blair' here.

Pam: Jim, Blair says that when Indian women used to give birth to a baby, they'd eat the...the...what is it called?
Blair: The placenta.
Pam: Yeah. Is he lying to me?
Jim: I don't think so. Usually if Blair says something, it's, uh, true.

Here, he's talking to a child and mirroring her, I think; she calls Blair by his first name; Jim does the same. Anything else could possibly be interpreted as correcting her, as if she'd made a mistake, and Jim wouldn't want to do that.

Teleplay by: Harold Apter and Steven Baum
Story by: Stephen A. Miller
Directed by: Greg Beeman


Becker: Part of your troops?
Simon: Oh, sorry, Dave. This is Detective Jim Ellison, Blair Sandburg.
Becker: You guys must do a lot of undercover work, huh?
Jim: Blair's actually a special consultant to the department.

I love this one. Faced with a hostile colleague -- and that hostility comes over loud and clear -- and the common judgment that Blair's in Vice or something, Jim's very firm as he makes plain Blair's true position. I don't think he's placing Blair in a lower status, as 'not one of us'; it's more like he's proud of him and isn't going to let Dave sneer at him.

True Crime
Written by: Daniel Levine
Directed by: Tony Westman


Blair: Well, you see, with some enthusiasts, it's a specific team or year. With me, it's 1961 and still with others, it's a specific player like, um...
Jim: An obsession?
Blair: Right. Thank you. Exactly. Like Mantle-mania. Now items like this can only be picked up exclusively at specialty outlets.
Jim: The plan is to put Blair in the store and wait for the guy to show.
Simon: Undercover?
Jim: Yes, sir.

This is a tricky one; Jim wants to get Simon to agree and I think that's what prompts this use of 'Blair' but it could backfire, as it can be seen as including Blair in the circle but also could remind Simon that Blair's not official. Eh.


They stop and get out of truck, moving closer to warehouse, going in from the side.
Jim: All right, you stay right behind me. Once we're inside, I'll tell you when to beep the captain.
Blair: All right. I can do that.
Jim: Just don't try and turn hero on me, Blair, okay?
Blair: Me? You must be joking.

Another nice one. Jim's concern after the incident in the store when the bullets were flying, is understandable; he's put Blair at risk once; he's reluctant to do it again.

Spare Parts
Written by: Harold Apter
Directed by: Paul Abascal


(Jim and Blair leave; go into hallway)
Jim: You know, Blair, Naomi's a very attractive woman. I never would have guessed she's so...young.
Blair: Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute. Just keep guessing, Jim. That's my mom! Take a cold shower, man. (they walk down the hall)

Heh. Using his name is a given here, but I don't think it placates Blair much…


Jim: He'll sign a waiver, sir.
Blair: Hey, man, speak for yourself.
They walk out of break room and towards bullpen.
Jim: Blair, this is a...
Blair: A golden opportunity, right, to do some real police work and put some hardcore criminals behind bars, right?

Now, this one feels a shade manipulative, as if Jim's using it to get Blair to agree against his better judgment.

Blind Man's Bluff
Written by: Daniel Levine
Directed by: Tony Westman


Doctor: Yes, it's possible. But without extensive tests and time, I really don't know. We need to get you admitted to the hospital, and I'd like to call in some consulting physicians.
Jim: I... It's... um... It's not gonna work for me, Doc. I just don't have time. I appreciate... I appreciate your time. (he turned his head as Blair walked around behind him) Blair...
Blair: (taking Jim's arm as he stands) It's all right, buddy, come on. Thanks, Doc. (they leave)

This is a rare instance of Jim, vulnerable, needing Blair. He's just been told he's blind and he calls for him to help him.


Jim: (claps a few times as he approaches Blair's Golden-blurred image) Blair? It's Jim. What's going on, buddy?
Blair: There's no need for applause, man. I got it all covered.
Jim: What's going on?
Blair: You don't see them? They're coming through, through the walls and the floor, man.
Jim: Who are?
Blair: The Golden fire people. You don't see them, man? (voice shaking; tears in his eyes; scared) They're made out of fire and they're burnt. You think they're ashes, but they're alive, man. And we gotta send them back! (fires another shot which hits a car)
Jim: Blair! Easy, buddy! Easy, buddy! Whoa! Blair, listen to me!
Blair looks at him again.
Jim: Your gun isn't gonna work with the fire people.
Blair shakes his head.
Jim: They're not gonna be afraid of your fire. It's only gonna make them stronger.
Blair continues to shake his head.
Jim: You've gotta use the bat echo trick.
Blair: What trick?
Jim: You know, the one you taught me. Uh, you close your eyes, and you clap your hands. (claps hands again)
Blair: No, man, that is not gonna work here!
Jim: Blair, come on. Try it. Trust me. You can save the world here. Come on.
Blair: I don't think that's gonna work here, Jim. (holding gun out toward Jim)
Jim: Come on, give me the gun. Blair. (slowly reaches toward gun)
Blair: I just don't think that's gonna work here. (cocks gun)
Jim: (touches Blair's hand) Trust me. That's right. (takes gun away) You gotta clap your hands. You gotta clap your hands.
Blair slowly clapped his hands. Simon runs over to them.
Jim: You did it! You did it! You did it! You did it. (he and Simon help Blair off the car)
Blair: I'm sorry.
Jim: That's okay.
Blair collapses in Jim's arms, passing out as they hit the ground.
Simon: We need a medic over here now!
Jim: (cradling Blair against him, resting his cheek on Blair's head) Hang in there. It's all right.

Okay, that was a long one with five, count 'em, uses of 'Blair' but really, how could Jim call him anything else? This one's gold. Jim's out there, still vulnerable himself, putting himself between Blair's gun and all the weapons pointed at Blair, and he's cajoling Blair. Softly, lovingly, using everything they've built up between them to get Blair to listen. He's got an audience, but he doesn't care.
Danny Levine, if you're the one who wrote this part of the script, thank you very much.

Dead Drop
Written by: Peter Lance
Directed by: Danny Bilson


Elevator drops 5 floors. Inside the passengers scream.
Woman: Ow!
Jim grabs the microphone and yells into it after the car stops.
Jim: Blair, you all right? Damn it. Sandburg, can you hear me?

Heh, we've all seen the bloopers… but Jim's worried and it slips out. Love it.

Season Three

Written by: David L. Newman
Directed by: Danny Bilson


Blair: It was an honest mistake, right?
Jim: One I made because of my senses.
Blair: You can't blame it on that.
Jim: Blair, I nearly killed an innocent man today.

Another instance of Jim in a bad place, signaling to Blair by the use of his name that he's seriously upset.

Jim: Janet's note says that Hale's a phony company owned by Gerard Spalding. (his cellphone rings, he answers it) Excuse me. (into phone) Ellison. ... All right, Blair, just calm down. I'm on my way. (hangs up) Looks like our murder suspect's been shot.

I'd love to have heard what Blair sounded like but I'm thinking he was incoherent here.

Written by: Rick Husky
Directed by: John Connor


Simon: Not enough to kill. Just enough to immobilize and scare the hell out of everybody?
Linda: Yeah. There wasn't anything that could be considered lethal.
Simon: So Blair and the others are gonna be all right.
Jim: Yeah, that's the weird thing, Simon. Why Blair? Why not us?
Simon: It had to be something that he... (snaps his fingers) Ice! He was chewing on ice at breakfast.

Again, mirroring Simon, I think.


Vehicles pull up outside. Jim goes over to look out window. Sees army guys loading weapons.
Simon: Can you see what's going on out there?
Jim: I don't know. (goes back to Simon) We got to get Blair out of that tent.
Simon: How do we do that and get past the guards?

Here, I read it as concern, simple as that.

Sentinel Too, Pt 1
Written by: Gail Morgan Hickman
Directed by: Richard Compton


~Cut to hospital. Jim on bed. Megan, Blair, and Simon standing above him.~
Simon: The good news is, it didn't hit bone. The doctor says you should be okay to work in a week.
Jim: Connor, would you do me a favor and handle my caseload while I'm out?
Megan: Uh, of course. Any objections, sir?
Simon: Works for me.
Jim: (to Megan) If you don't mind, I just need a minute with Simon and Blair.
Megan: If I have any questions, I'll give you a call. (leaves)

I think here it'd just sound too weird to say 'Simon and Sandburg' and he wants them as friends, not colleagues.

Season Four

The Waiting Room
Written by: Harold Apter
Directed by: Michael Lacoe


~Cut to a bit later. Same place. Blair is turned away, working on his computer, headphones on. Jim is sitting in the chair, dozing. A shadowy figure walks through him. He wakes up with a shiver.~
Jim: Chief... (goes over to mirror where Molly is standing) Blair...
Blair doesn't notice.

Notice how Jim uses 'Blair' as a way to get through to an oblivious Blair when 'Chief' doesn't work.

The Sentinel, by Blair Sandburg
Written by: Bill Froehlich
Directed by: Danny Bilson


Naomi: Didn't surprise me to learn, Jim, that you had this... gift. I always sensed a special energy about you.
Jim: (takes tea) Very kind, Naomi. Thank you.
Naomi: I'm just...terribly sorry at how all this has...turned out, especially when I see what's happened to you two.
Jim: Naomi, I know you were just trying to help Blair.
Naomi: You two, listen to me. You cannot let this tear apart your friendship.

Here, talking to Blair's mom, there's not much else Jim can call him but 'Blair'.

The dialogue is all taken from Becky's Sentinel page, an invaluable resource which I use constantly.


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