Serve. Protect. Don’t screw up.
Few things in life suck more than the whole first day on the job thing, am I right? Even if it’s a job you’re looking forward to starting, you still have to face the awkwardness of meeting new coworkers, signing numerous incomprehensible human resources forms in triplicate, and not really knowing what you’re doing until you can get into a groove in the days to follow. Now imagine going through all that when you’re a cop, with a gun on your hip and lives on the line. That’s the concept behind Rookie Blue.
Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym, Reaper) and four of her friends just graduated from the police academy and are now on the job, each one learning the day-to-day ropes from their training officers. The rookies are eager to prove themselves, but are often lost in a world of rules, laws, deal-making with perps and suspects, and more. In addition to lessons learned on the streets, there are also matters of the heart, as Andy and her pals find romance among their fellow cops, whether looking for it or not.
Made in Canada and airing on ABC in the US, Rookie Blue is a show that tries to be a lot of things at once. It succeeds — mostly.
The best aspect of the show is the “newbie on the job” part of it, in which Andy and the others are faced with situations that the academy never prepared them for, and they have to feel their way through them. You could argue that the rookies come across as stupid when they have to ask their training officers, “Should I use my gun?” This makes them relatable, though, in that it encourages viewers at home to wonder, “What would I do if I had to respond to a call of shots being fired?”
An ongoing theme of the series is the rookies making mistakes, and then either dealing with or making up for those mistakes. Most folks, ordinary shlubs like me, look to police for safety. For other folks, the hardened criminal types, police are something to be feared. Either way, cops are generally held up to some kind of standard, if for no other reason than they’re allowed to walk around with guns. Rookie Blue emphasizes the fact that behind their badges, police are normal folks just like the rest of us, with all the same screw-ups, neuroses and foibles we all deal with.
That might sound like some heavy drama, but the tone of the show is fairly light. No matter what mistakes are made, our never-say-die rookies face their troubles with good attitudes and are determined to make things right, even if what is and isn’t “right” falls into an ambiguous grey area. There is also a strong slice-of-life feel to the show, with the rookies dealing with ordinary things like mountains of paperwork, long hours of boredom during surveillance, or figuring out how to get in and out of the cumbersome police uniforms to go to the bathroom. These humorous bits keep the show from getting heavy-handed and wallowing in its own seriousness.
The other big aspect of the series is the many romantic entanglements the rookies find themselves in. I understand that the “soap opera” half of the show will be a big draw for many viewers, but it was less interesting to me than the “cop show” parts. This is mainly because the romances were so predictable. The minute any two characters meet for the time, it’s achingly obvious whether they’ll eventually end up in a relationship. Andy has two hunky guys in her life, a homicide detective she immediately hits it off with (the nice guy) and the undercover cop who’s furious with her after she accidentally blows his cover (the bad boy). Although she starts dating the nice guy immediately, the writers keep coming up with ways to maintain the sexual tension between her and the bad boy. Notice how she angrily storms into the men’s locker room to confront him, just as he’s undressing. That scene wasn’t staged like that on accident, people. As for the others, fellow rookie Traci (Enuka Okuma, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing) is in a relationship with a superior officer, who still has to write her up when she breaks a rule, despite how they feel for each other, and rookie Dov (Gregory Smith) finds his cop life and his love life in conflict when he learns some uncomfortable secrets about his new girlfriend.
Peregrym is the marquee star, and she really shines in the lead role, maintaining a nice “girl next door” quality to her performance throughout. Some of her best scenes are when Andy deals with her father, a retired cop with a troubled past. The other standout performance is from Smith as rookie Dov. Thin and babyfaced, he’s determined to come off as intimidating and aggressive, even though he pretty much isn’t. Gail (Charlotte Sullivan, The Kennedys) appears to the most competent of the rookies, but she’s not above using her good looks and her famous mother’s name to get ahead. Chris (Travis Milne) is the tough guy of the bunch, and gets a lot of humorous moments when he’s placed in decidedly non-tough guy situations.
All thirteen episodes of the first season are on this four-disc set. This is not a show with flashy visuals or powerful, booming sound, but the discs are clean and clear in audio and video. Extras include some short-but-good featurettes with behind the scenes footage and a sneak peek at the second season.
Everyone on the internet is determined to compare this show to Grey’s Anatomy. My secret confession: I’ve never watched Grey’s Anatomy, so I have no idea how the two shows compare.
Although there is the occasional chase or punch, and weapons are drawn during tense standoffs, this really isn’t an action show. Likewise, it lacks a lot of the sleaze and gloom seen in “gritty” cop shows. This is where the slice of life feeling comes back into play. For the most part, viewers are following these folks through their daily lives, with both human drama and cops and robbers fun stemming from that. It’s a lot more low key than other cop shows, but if low key is what you’re looking for, then give it a try.