The Rookie Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: The Rookie
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 20
  • Discs: 4 (DVD)
  • Network: ABC
  • Cast: Nathan Fillion, Titus Makin Jr, Melissa O’Neil, Alyssa Diaz, Eric Winter, Afton Williamson, Richard T. Jones, Mercedes Mason
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

The Rookie reminded me of the 1970s cop shows I watched as a kid – shows like Police Woman or SWAT or The Streets of San Francisco, basic but watchable shows with great characters and lots of action – that had a very black-and-white view of policing. The series has, of course, been updated both in terms of technology and in terms of casting – the three rookies are Fillian, an Asian woman, and an African-American man who happens to be the son of a police officer. And it turns out there was a 1970s show called The Rookies with three male rookie LAPD officers, co-starring Kate Jackson as a nurse and wife to one of the officers. But that doesn’t make The Rookie a bad show – it’s nostalgic and incredibly fun to watch. The show is set in Los Angeles and filmed there. And, though I used to get annoyed with “everything filming in LA” even if it was set somewhere else, after a decade or two watching television shows filmed everywhere else for economic reasons – it was surprisingly nice to see Los Angeles again. The early episodes really show off LA in all it’s sunny, star-studded glory.

Nathan Fillion is John Nolan, a 45-year-old who joins the LAPD after his life falls apart – he’s divorced, his construction business has failed, and he’s decided to restart his life and do something he’s always wanted to do. He also has a son, Henry, who is away at college. Initially, John’s age and sudden life change is a source of rubbing and annoyance to other officers, especially his sergeant. But as John consistently proves himself – the other officers learn to respect his life experience. John is also incredibly empathic, which helps him to de-escalate situations with criminals and civilians alike. Between his life experience and his people skills, John is turning out to be a good cop – which isn’t to say he doesn’t make mistakes, he does, as do the other rookies. The show is about how the rookie year is a chance for the rookies to learn through experience.

Each episode of The Rookie usually starts with a brief, often humorous scene that feels like it was pulled from the real-life experiences of police officers. These scenes aren’t connected to the main story of the week, usually, but they are fun and they make The Rookie enjoyable and fun to watch. Each episode then follows the three rookies and their Training Officers (TOs) from roll call to end of shift. Early episodes of the season emphasize the variety of situations the new officers face in their day – from the absurd to the dangerous. Later episodes get a little bit darker – but this is never an overly grim series. We see the officers date, some, and at times learn about the home lives of the rookies and their TOs, but the show emphasizes the job, not who is dating whom, which is refreshing.

I recommend The Rookies if you are looking for something light and fun. Yes, it ignores the darker and more racist actions of the LAPD, as well as the lack of education of officers that commit those crimes. But if you want to want Nathan Fillion in a great role, again, and just kick back and binge something fun to watch, then watch The Rookies. I will definitely look for the second season this Summer on DVD.