TV Review: Strong Season Premiere For ABC Summer Hit ‘Rookie Blue’
CHICAGO – ABC’s “Rookie Blue” may be the biggest TV hit with the least amount of press. Perhaps because it’s a Canadian import or because it’s a summer series but the show never makes magazine covers or even highlight articles in entertainment magazines. But it’s developed into a pretty solid cop show, as evidenced by the tight, well-made third-season premiere with a great guest appearance from William Shatner.
TV Rating: 3.5/5.0
The man also known as Captain Kirk guest stars in a purely dramatic role (and totally nails it) as a drunk driver who crashes into a van, causing a pile-up with a cop car. Things get very weird from there. The van has propane in the back and goes up in flames. Both Shatner’s driver and one of the cops, Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym), just back from suspension, see a girl in the back of the van. After everything is cleared, the girl is gone. Who was she? Why was she in the back of a van when the front seat was empty? Is there more to this drunk driving accident than there seems? It’s a great cop show arc — not cluttered like so many modern ones with subplots — that perfectly allows the writers to push forward a few personal stories while not losing the seriousness of the crime one at its core.
Photo credit: ABC
And isn’t that what separates bad cop shows from good ones? It’s balance. We don’t want too much character — it’s always awkward when a fictional precinct’s romantic entanglements overshadow the actual crimes they’re supposedly solving — but we also need to feel like the people are three-dimensional. “Southland” has this down to a science. “NYPD Blue” perfected the model created by “Hill Street Blues.”
Photo credit: ABC
Now, I don’t mean to imply that “Rookie Blue” is yet in the league of those shows but I was very surprised at the quality of the season three premiere. It’s tight, well-edited, smart, and perfectly streamlined. That balance, that often-elusive thing in the world of cop shows, is here.
It helps that the cast has progressed since the show premiered. Peregrym is a perfect lead as she’s believable both as a tough girl and an everywoman. Where the show felt a bit too focused on the rookie aspect at the start, these characters are more confident and so are the actors who play them. The rookie this season is Nick Collins (Peter Mooney), a straightforward war veteran who has a romantic past with Gail (Charlotte Sullivan). Meanwhile, Andy is coming back from suspension and still trying to figure out her relationship with Sam (Ben Bass).
If there’s a significant problem with “Rookie Blue,” it’s that it can sometimes feel over-crowded with characters. I know the case in the premiere is a big one but is every cop in town working on it? It’s a bit weird to suggest that one show rip off another but if “Rookie Blue” could mimic the “Southland” model a bit more, in which not every character needs to interact (or even appear) every episode, it would be more successful. However, the premiere is strong enough that this is a minor complaint.
“Rookie Blue” will never win awards and probably won’t make any top ten lists at the end of the year but it’s been a consistent performer for ABC and that is very unlikely to change going into the program’s third season. There are always a few solid, entertaining shows that just don’t get the press they deserve. “Rookie Blue” is just one of the latest cadets.
The second season of “Rookie Blue” just hit Blu-ray and DVD if you want to catch up. Spread out over 4 discs, the show has a strong transfer and includes seven making-of featurettes. It may not get a lot of press but at least the studio treats its fans well. If you gave up on “Rookie Blue” in season one (which, I’ll admit, I did), check out season two on Blu-ray and pick up with season three on ABC. You won’t regret it.