May 25, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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The sparse network summer season for scripted series kicked off tonight with ROOKIE BLUE, beginning that extreme rarity, a 3d season, where few original network dramas in summer even get to a Season 2.

WHERE WE WERE:  Our heroine, 2d year Toronto police officer Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym), after a season and a half of when-will-they? with senior officer Sam Swarek (Ben Bass), finally did.  Unfortunately, at the time Sam was in the middle of an undercover assignment, and Andy got embroiled, against orders, in his case.  That led to a 3-month suspension for Andy.  In other plotlines, fellow rookie Gail (Charlotte Sullivan), after spending the season bouncing between a relationship with Chris (Travis Milne) and an attraction to Dov (Gregory Smith), ended up with neither of them.  And Noelle (Melanie Nicholls-King) finally got together with Sergeant Best (Lyriq Bent).  

WHERE WE ARE:  In the season premiere, written by series co-creator Tassie Cameron and directed by David Wellington, 3 months have passed and it’s the day of Andy’s return to the squad–or at least of the hearing to determine whether she can return.  On the way to that hearing, of course, she’s instrumental in what turns out to be the case of the week, in which a car accident caused by a drunk driver (guest star William Shatner) turns out to lead to the recovery of his15-year old granddaughter, who’d been abducted 8 years earlier.  Not to worry:  by the end of the episode, Andy is back on the force, and although the episode tried to raise some doubts about she and Sam getting back together (he was miffed that she followed orders and didn’t contact him during her suspension), they were reunited by the end credits–not the world’s biggest surprise since he’d gone to meet her at the airport and been carrying around her bags (and, oddly, a single oar) all day.

The other plot element sure to be developed through the season introduced us to new motorcycle-riding, Afghan-war veteran rookie cop Nick Collins (Peter Mooney)–who also turns out to be Gail’s former fiancee.

There’s a reason why Rookie Blue has survived where almost all other scripted summer shows have not, and it’s because Rookie doesn’t try to transcend its modest scale, and on those terms it’s a completely enjoyable cops-meet-soap drama.  (Far more so than CBS’s recent NYC 22, which was essentially the same show set in NY, with much bigger–and more expensive–auspices.)   The cast is attractive and personable, able to pull off the Grey’s Anatomy-ish shifts from goofy romance to life-and-death drama on a dime, and the writing is a notch above the merely functional.  (The veteran cop Oliver Shaw, played by Matt Gordon, is a particular hoot whenever he opens his mouth.)  The storylines are rarely surprising, but they’re smoothly plotted, and mechanical contrivances are kept to a minimum.

It’s a mark of Rookie Blue‘s appreciation for its own nature that the show is a Canadian production actually set in a Canadian city, without any pretense to taking place in Portland or some other Northwestern or New England city in the US.  The show doesn’t make any great claims for itself, serving as the epitome of what an effective summer series should be:  undemanding, diverting, and temporarily compelling fun.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."