The Rookie Series Premiere Review
I found it very strange that this was a series I found myself anxious to check out. Like many people, the initial appeal is that the main character is played by Nathan Fillion. I mean, who wouldn’t watch a new show just to see more of him? However, even then there was no overlooking the fact that this was centered around cops. Not exactly the kind of theme you would look twice at these days. Unfortunate, but that is how the world works today with the real world influencing what we take interest in when it comes to entertainment. That said, this didn’t stop me from seeing what this show had in store for us.
What I liked off the bat here was seeing that this was a lot more than what you are seeing on the surface. I could have been instantly turned away from this show if they played too heavily into our main character Nolan (Nathan Fillion) only being this walking midlife crisis trying to pursue his dream of becoming an LAPD officer. That’s not to say that this isn’t Nolan in a nutshell, but that isn’t all there is to him either. They started off introducing us to this guy who is kind of at rock bottom after this incident as they call it. I honestly wouldn’t call it an incident as there wasn’t really something done to him or that he did to someone else. I would have just narrowed it down to it simply being an experience. Back on track, they show us where he is in his life at the start of the story, and then waste little time throwing him into this experience which changes his whole outlook on life. In that one part, we got to know Nolan strongly as someone who you could believe would make that jump at the age of forty. Throughout the premiere, they did not let up with capturing Nolan in his more shining moments. It made a big difference to see how he handled situations in contrast to the other cops. He’s not perfect by any means, but he also isn’t terrible either.
When we see cops these days, there isn’t just the frustrations from them poking their noses in your business, there is also the fear for the way that they approach you right or wrong. Nolan challenged what makes a cop approachable consistently and in humanizing ways. It didn’t feel out of character for a simple guy like him who doesn’t quickly jump the gun.
Nolan’s struggles as the oldest rookie were captivating. You couldn’t help but connect with this man who is pursuing a dream and being told that he is too old for the job. There was a hint of ageism in there, but more than that we were understanding the seriousness that comes with cops wanting the best at their side when they take to the streets. Wade Grey, the sergeant who becomes a nemesis to Nolan, was the first to spark a flame which create a real sense of tension for him. While you hate what Nolan stood for as the guy to question Nolan’s motivations most, you also could overlook that at the core he was someone who cared that much about his job and the officers he already had to endanger them with someone who has too much to prove so late in the game. As for his newly promoted training officer, Talia Bishop, she was someone dialed back which was something to appreciate since we also needed to understand what is at stake for her training a possible liability. There is a rough patch for them to overcome, but they touch upon the passion and drive which they both share. That matters a lot when they both have many hurdles to climb if they want to get where they want to be.
The fact that it isn’t just Nolan we are focusing on as a rookie was even better. We also have Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neil), and Jackson West (Titus Makin) who also challenge what it means to be a rookie from different perspectives. Having that variety I found to be very important to creating depth where there could have only been so much done with just Nolan and Talia Bishop. Both rookies don’t have it easy either, and that was a better direction to take than it only being Nolan who suffered scrutiny. Lucy was a great example of someone who gets the short end of the stick being paired with the worst kind of training officer. Jackson was a great example of someone who has to become more than their privileged. Just being the son of a high-level commander in the LAPD only gets you so far. The problems they faced were just as real and engaging which made every scene as thrilling as the next.
Speaking of problems they face, the big mission that they take on this episode was brilliantly executed. Of course some viewers out there might think that it is unreal for all these things to happen, but that is aside the point. The point is what happens during these incidents. How the rookies responded to lives in danger, their lives in danger, that was make or break. Every response was different, and that kept us at the edge of our seats considering anything could happen when having to use your gun so soon is the most unexpected development for a rookie.
I only found the character of Tim Bradford to be troublesome. He had a role to fill here, but he is going to be a character who you have to warm up to. I understood the part he had to play, but in contrast to the other characters he was more of an obstacle than someone you could connect with. I would dare to say that he was practically thrown in as the pretty boy face.
As I said above, I don’t go out of my way too often to give a show like this a shot, but they blew my mind with the strength of this story and cast. What was assumed to be another cliche involving someone old, quickly became a diverse experience from three perspectives on being rookie cops. The Rookie series premiere is definitely up there with one of the best debuts of the year in my book.