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TV Series Review

Some people buy sports cars for their midlife crisis. Others take up kite surfing. John Nolan? He decides to become a police officer.

OK, it’s not as if he chose the career on a lark. He’s serious about policework, and he’s determined to prove that to all the badge-carrying doubters in Los Angeles.

But the guy is 40 years old—freshly divorced and just a decade away from potential AARP membership. Now at an age where most of his peers are noticing hitches in their respective giddy-ups, John’s chasing down criminals half his age with officers who are … well, half his age.

The ‘Boy’ in Blue?

I exaggerate. All of his rookie peers are old enough to drive and vote, and John’s roughly the same age as some of the grizzled vets of LAPD’s Willshire Division. Still, his fortysomething status raises eyebrows and more than a few concerns. Talia Bishop, John’s police trainer, wonders whether the geriatric newbie has what it takes to patrol L.A.’s never-dull streets. And police Sgt. Wade Grey is hoping to convince John to hang up his badge already—not out of malice, necessarily, but the fear that John’s age and inexperience could put other people at risk.

Still, John’s winning over officers one at a time, and his fellow rookies have their own challenges, too. Jackson West is the son of a storied cop, and he’s working overtime (sometimes literally) to make sure folks know he earned his place on the force, that it wasn't handed to him. Lucy Chen joined the LAPD against the wishes of her parents and struggles with her slightly unhinged supervisor, Tim Bradford. And if that wasn’t enough, she tried to find comfort for all those woes in the arms of John Nolan. No matter that a rookie dating another rookie is a definite no-no.

But all these officers still embrace the same ideals that brought them all there in the first place: to make the streets a little safer for everyone else. To put the bad guys away, give a little help to the downtrodden and understand that sometimes the former and the latter can be the very same people.

Shades of Gray

It's harder than ever to be a police officer these days. The scrutiny cops are under has, perhaps, never been greater, and the need for good officers never greater.

As such, The Rookie serves as a bit of optimistic salve for a difficult profession and the people they serve.

John’s a good guy, and he wants to be a good cop. His fellow police officers are all about helping the community—even if what that help looks like differs from officer to officer. While The Rookie would hardly qualify as prestige television, it sports a surprisingly nuanced look at police work, the people they help, and even the criminals they chase. No one’s perfect here, and some of the folks we meet—cops included—have some pretty serious flaws. But they serve the same goals, and that’s something.

“Our bad days pale in comparison with the people that we meet,” Talia reminds John. “They need us at our best.”

The show, like its fictional officers, tries to be at its best for its viewers, but it also makes mistakes at times. The language can be coarse. John and his cohorts sometimes respond to (somewhat outlandish) crime scenes that can be bloody or gory or turn quite violent suddenly. Sexual themes can muddy the waters further, warranting the occasional Plugged In misdemeanor.

Still, I liked The Rookie and its inherent optimism. In it, ABC gives us a handful of police officers that are, indeed, true blue.

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Nov. 20, 2018: "The Roundup"



Readability Age Range



Nathan Fillion as John Nolan; Titus Makin Jr. as Jackson West; Eric Winter as Tim Bradford; Alyssa Diaz as Angela Lopez; Richard T. Jones as Sergeant Wade Grey; Mercedes Mason as Capt. Zoe Anderson; Melissa O'Neil as Lucy Chen; Afton Williamson as Talia Bishop






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Paul Asay

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