The Rookie premiere arrived on ABC Tuesday night and, suffice it to say, it was an hour full of surprises.
For one, this was a Nathan Fillion series stuffed full of surprises. When we first heard about this show, we imagined that this was going to be a goofy, lighthearted crime-procedural with a bunch of age jokes — and there were a few of them in the early going. Yet, after that we had a pretty serious crime show about rookie cops trying to make a name for themselves in Los Angeles. It was personal, dark at times, and Fillion was not out to play Richard Castle as a cop.
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Instead, John Nolan was an affable but determined cop who found this calling following a divorce and a dangerous experience at a bank. The entire pilot was about his first day at the LAPD alongside some other cops, and they went through quite a bit over the course of the hour. Nolan helped to save a kid, but also had a guy die in his arms after a domestic dispute. In the end, he briefly left his partner in order to help some other cops in need — he shot the criminal responsible in the knee, but his CO Wade Grey (Richard T. Jones) was ready to fire him anyway. He thinks that Nolan is a joke of a cop on a midlife crisis tour, but he doesn’t look at it the same way. He’s ready to learn, even if that means getting mocked and abused by some of his colleagues.
As for some of the other cops, Bishop (Afton Williamson) is Nolan’s partner who recognizes his dedication but also his flaws. Meanwhile, Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neill) is a fellow rookie cop who has been carrying on a secret relationship with Nolan for some time. Jackson West (Titus Makin Jr.) is one of the best recruits ever coming out of the academy and has a lot of legacy thanks to his father; yet, he struggled in the field during the premiere.
One of the most fascinating characters is Tim Bradford (Eric Winter), Chen’s partner and a guy with serious demons. He was offensive and cruel at times to Lucy after she was assigned to him. Yet, his wife is an addict who he’s desperate to help and she turned up in the premiere after months off the grid.
The most impressive thing about The Rookie is that it did not come across as just a vehicle for Nathan Fillion or more of the same that we’ve seen from him over time. It’s instead more of an ensemble show about a group of cops trying to make it on the force. Nathan is very good as Nolan, but the same goes for the rest of the cast. It presents police work in a grittier, more on-the-ground way than some other shows where you realize the day-to-day toll of this job.
If the rest of the season keeps up like this, The Rookie could end up being one of the more pleasant surprises of the season.
What did you think about The Rookie premiere on ABC Tuesday night? Be sure to share in the attached comments below. (Photo: ABC.)