August 21, 2014

THE SKED Season Finale Review: “Rookie Blue”


Even the explosion that briefly rocked the Season 5 finale of ROOKIE BLUE was of modest proportions, in keeping with the ambitions of the veteran Canadian summer series, licensed by ABC for American air.  It was a mid-sized bang that hardly injured heroine Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym) at all, and that described this season as well, a modest, unremarkable but absorbing piece of off-season broadcast network TV.

It may be that next summer’s episodes will be more explosive, because both ABC and its Canadian counterpart split the 5th round of Rookie Blue in half, the remaining hours to air in 2015.  (Often such a step is taken for financial reasons, as where stars and producers are under contract only for 5 seasons–AMC has become a specialist in this kind of inventive scheduling.)  Certainly this season ended with the promise of more drama on the way, as the finale’s mad bomber may have been murdered in an interrogation room at District 15 and posed as a suicide (possibly even by the Police Commissioner himself, whom the bomber had just implicated in allegations of citywide corruption), and on the show’s more soapy level, the season (or half-season) ended with Dov’s (Gregory Smith) discovery that fellow cop Marlo (Rachael Ancheril) the bipolar former girlfriend of Sam Swarek (Ben Bass)–intermittent and current love of McNally’s life–had returned to the scene pregnant.

The finale episodes themselves, aired as back-to-back hours (Hour 1 written by Executive Producer Russ Cochrane and directed by John Fawcett–better known these days as a co-creator of Orphan Black–and Hour 2 written by Co-Executive Producer Sherry White and directed by David Wellington), were of the “guy who seemed like a minor character in an earlier episode turns out to be a Big Bad” school of procedurals.  In this case, the guy had been cranky about having his bicycle stolen, and was now revealed as a crazed bomber determined to kill the children of the people (crooked cops, judges, contractors) he blamed for the death of his own son.  Like most Rookie Blue episodes, it didn’t make any attempt to be innovative or revolutionize the form, but for the most part, it was a solidly structured and performed piece of work.  The exception was the unfortunate return of Duncan (Matthew Owen Murray), The Worst Cop In The World, whose presence made sense since he was himself a target of the bomber as the Commisioner’s stepson, but he’s still an uncomfortably over-the-top presence on the show.

Rookie Blue has survived, where the vast majority of summer network series don’t, mostly because of its appealing characters and strong cast, all of whom got some cliffhanger moments for themselves in the finale.  Peck (Charlotte Sullivan), who recently discovered herself to be gay, was faced with a crisis when her ex-girlfriend returned to ask Peck to move with her to San Francisco, just as Peck had decided to adopt a murder victim’s young daughter who’d touched Peck’s heart earlier in the season.  (Spoiler alert:  San Francisco is unlikely.)  Dov somewhat unconvincingly broke up with quirky Chloe (Priscilla Faia), after she hid the fact that her ex-husband had kissed her when signing their divorce papers.  (Exes are a big plot point on Rookie Blue.)  Nick (Peter Mooney) met a mysterious new woman who ran as soon as she found out he was a cop.  Traci (Enuka Okuma), too, was given a new potential romantic interest on the force.  Oliver (Matt Gordon, perhaps the series MVP) left his recent desk job to return to the field in search of the bomber.

Rookie Blue isn’t the kind of show whose return each season is awaited with eager expectations, but it’s always a pleasure to see it come back to town.  In its relatively low-key, unassuming way (and with ratings to match), it manages to put together a quality product each season in a way many mainstream genre series should envy.


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."