June 19, 2014

THE SKED Season Premiere Review: “Rookie Blue”


ROOKIE BLUE:  Thursday 9PM on ABC

It’s quite an accomplishment for a scripted summer series on one of the broadcast networks to last five seasons on the air, and the ABC/Canadian co-production ROOKIE BLUE is now so venerable that one of the plotlines in tonight’s Season 5 premiere had the character whose rookie year kicked off the series now serving as Training Officer to a rookie herself.  Rookie has never been a blockbuster hit–no one has ever considered moving it to the regular network season (although considering how ABC’s dramas have done lately, maybe they should have)–but its mix of serialized soap and cop action series has made it a consistent, reliable performer for the network.

Tonight’s “2-hour season premiere event” was merely a back-to-back combination of two separate episodes that didn’t have have more to do with each other than any other pair of Rookie hours.  The real premiere hour was the first, written by series co-creator Tassie Cameron (both episodes were directed by David Wellington, the series’ house director).  It picked up immediately after the events of the Season 3 finale, which had placed two of the show’s key romantic interests in mortal danger:  Sam Swarek (Ben Bass), the on-and-off true love of Rookie heroine  Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym), and Chloe Price (Priscilla Faia), the more recent adored of  Dov Epstein (Gregory Smith).  Both had been shot by last season’s precinct stalker, which brought their romantic storylines to crisis points, as Andy, despite now being with Nick Collins (Peter Mooney), confessed her continuing love to Sam, while Dov tried to cope with the news that Chloe was actually married.

This being a TV cop show, Andy and Dov left the hospital where both their loves were in critical condition for a bite at a local diner, only to be instantly taken hostage by gun-wielding junkies.  Unfortunately for the perps, neither of them had thought to look for a shotgun under the diner’s counter, which resulted forthwith in one less junkie and the end of the confrontation.  Both Sam and Chloe survived, reuniting the show’s power couple and keeping the cute Dov and Chloe together (once it was clear that Chloe, while legally wed, was long estranged from her rotten ex).

Season 5 proper began with the night’s second hour, written by Consulting Producer Sherry White, which introduced the storyline of Andy as the Training Officer for Duncan Moore (Matt Murray), an arrogant and somewhat ridiculously incompetent newbie (when he wasn’t playing around with key evidence, he was insensitively bungling the delivery of a death notification to the victim’s wife)–who happened as well to be the stepson of the Police Commissioner.  This will no doubt lead to plenty of complications, especially since Duncan is being watched over by the shadowy Inspector John Jarvis (Oliver Becker), whose first major action on the show was to fire Frank Best (Lyriq Bent) as the squad’s leader (in real life, Bent has been demoted to recurring character), although that did at least pave the way for Oliver Shaw (Matt Gordon), one of Rookie‘s most colorful characters, to take over.  Also, before she went home from Sam’s bedside, his sister had foreboding words for Andy about life with Sam in the long term that will surely come back to haunt the couple.

Rookie Blue is hardly innovative television, but it’s a very accomplished piece of work, sparked by a likable cast that’s well led by the spunky Peregrym, and arguably more entertaining than the similar (and more expensive) regular-season Chicago PD.  (The premiere”s two hours gave us little of Charlotte Sullivan’s newly-out Gail, or Travis Milne’s loyal-to-a-fault Chris, but they’re also valuable parts of the ensemble.)  The show is well-paced, and balances its soap opera, action and mild humor with skill.  It’s now reached the point that Grey’s Anatomy had to deal with a few seasons ago, with its original fresh-faced newcomers now aged to a group of fairly experienced protagonists.  Although the character of Duncan isn’t, at first glance, a particularly promising introduction to the show’s new generation, Rookie has earned the right to let him, and its storylines, play out.  The series appears to be well set on its steady, if unexceptional, course of duty.

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."