The Rookie s2 ep 20

Over the last few weeks of TV viewing, one has become familiar with the rueful entertainment to be had when watching shows filmed before Covid-19 took over our lives. It’s never not startling: they’re talking to each other! Without masks! Face to face! In bars and restaurants! Touching!

But a different, and more sinister, form of cognitive dissonance manifested itself this week as I watched, and then started to write my review of, The Rookie – a show which, like most other procedurals, is told from the standpoint of the police – while the ramifications of the death of George Floyd played out in America and elsewhere. (I was going to post it on Tuesday, but didn’t.) I don’t know what the hell we do about all this, but for privileged white men like me, we should – even more than normal – be listening and learning; we should act; we should be allies; we should take sides, if necessary; we should remember that we’re the problem; and we should reiterate that black lives matter

What I think I can say a little about, though, is the way in which these stories are told, and the effect that has in the real world. As more than one writer has already pointed out, if you put the police at the centre of your narrative, and reduce everyone else to a walk-on-and-walk-off part in the Case of the Week, there are consequences: the cops are the characters we care about, and everyone else is disposable. This phenomenon will also be recognisable to readers of crime fiction (among whom I enthusiastically number myself): many of my favourite British novelists, and I won’t name names because I’m a complicit part of the deal under which they write the books and I buy them, are startlingly deferential to the Job and everything that goes with it.

Incidentally, if anyone’s interested in the issue of “copaganda” from a slightly different perspective, I recommend episode 94 of the Citations Needed podcast, which examines how American TV and film narratives shifted away from the perspective of defence attorneys throughout the 70s and 80s, putting the police at the centre; turning prosecutors into heroes (except, I would add as a viewer, when their pesky requirements for properly-obtained evidence get in the way of justice); and giving “experts” the status of unchallengeable truth-tellers, even when their expertise is in pseudoscience or out-and-out bullshit (bite marks, blood spatter, body language).

This isn’t as simple as saying that, in these various forms of art, the police, prosecutors, or scientists never do anything wrong: of course they do. (The episode of The Rookie I’m about to review has a police officer, perhaps unfortunately an African American one, up to his neck in corruption.) But they’re very much the exception; the “one rotten apple”, getting in the way of decent, almost infallible, people doing a difficult job to the best of their ability. And all of this – TV, films, novels, then news coverage – spills over into the real world, by advancing a narrative in which the forces of the state are good actors, protecting society from a tidal wave of evil. This leads to an increased fear of crime, which in turn leads to ever more punitive sentencing and enhanced powers for the police and others, all of which will inevitably be deployed in accordance with the power structures of society, and therefore against those who are otherwise the victims of marginalisation or discrimination.

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Anyway. To The Rookie. “Out of all the unimportant things, football is the most important”, said Pope (as he then was) John Paul II. While I agree with St (as he now is) John Paul about that, I’m putting TV in second place; and so, although the season 2 finale of The Rookie might seem – indeed, is – somewhat trivial, that’s precisely why I watch it. And review it. Here goes.

There’s a really smart beginning to the episode: rather than just pick up where we left off, with Nolan realising that Armstrong is dirty, we’re given a bit more Armstrong backstory: specifically, how he made the murder weapon disappear, how he dragged Erin into it, and why he shot her. Poor Erin. 

While everyone else is trying to solve Rios’s murder Nolan takes his case to Harper, who is visibly sceptical at first but agrees to help, which involves taking Armstrong out to a house in the middle of nowhere, ostensibly so that Harper can speak to a contact, but in reality so that Armstrong’s burner phone can be traced. Nolan and Armstrong share a car, and Nolan is warned by Harper not to give anything away during idle chit-chat. Needless to say, Nolan is, of course, appalling at not giving anything away; and Armstrong has a new burner anyway.

Which means that Nolan has to visit Rosalind Dyer (Annie Wersching) in prison, to try to get her to spill the Armstrong tea she claimed to have a few episodes ago; and given that she is both hot and evil I’m entirely down with that. Before doing so, though, she names her price: she wants details of Nolan’s relationship problems with Grace, and on finding out that it’s going badly insists on Nolan calling Grace in front of her. He does so. It’s a queasy little scene, particularly as Nolan is going through the process of being dumped, so that Grace can go back to her stupid husband. But a deal’s a deal, and Rosalind reveals that Armstrong has a hidden compartment in his house full of cash, guns, and generally incriminating shit.

And here’s where the episode starts to go off the rails a little: Nolan, in the best traditions of procedurals and vampire movies, goes to Armstrong’s house on his own without telling everyone. This means that when he gets interrupted by Armstrong returning home unexpectedly, and is then seen as he drives away, Armstrong has the advantage. Which he presses home: he invites Nolan back to his house for a man-to-man chat, confesses, but then reveals that he’s planted evidence in Nolan’s house in order to incriminate him as the Derians’ inside man. There’s an exchange of gunfire, during which Armstrong takes a bullet, but his plan is in play: Serj Derian is arrested and tells the arresting cops that Nolan is his contact; Nolan dashes home and starts to rip his newly-refurbished house apart looking for the stash; and, just as he finds a ton of cash and guns behind a wall, he hears police sirens.

This, then is the cliffhanger. But two questions: didn’t Nolan record, or otherwise transmit, his conversation with Armstrong? If he didn’t, he’s an idiot. And if he was dirty, he’d know where the stash was, and would hardly need to tear a few walls down to find it. It’s a good episode, and it’s been a good plot, but I’m not sure I want it lingering much beyond the first episode of the third season. The third season, I should say, that we now know we’re getting: The Rookie is a solid performer in America, and it has the advantage of a big name and bankable lead, so there’s no surprise there. Over and above that it’s a really good show.

What we really need in season 3, though, is MOAR #CHENFORD. That particular plot fizzles a little this week: Rachel is, of course, going to New York, which leaves open the question of where Tim stands on long distance relationships. “Are you really going to visit Rachel in New York?” asks Lucy. “No”, Tim replies. “Good”, says at least one viewer. But later on he pulls off an impressive variation on the rushing-to-the-airport trope in order to let Rachel know that he might, after all, be open to the idea. Huh. God knows where we’ll all be when The Rookie returns, and it may be that Chenford will be the only thing standing between us and oblivion.

The Rookie s2 ep 19

Early on in this terrific episode Nolan remarks, in passing, that it’s quiet. Harper rolls her eyes so hard she needs to stop her shop and pick them up. You never tempt fate by saying that it’s quiet. And, sure enough, an episode which starts off feeling a little bit aimless becomes one of the best of the season.

Winding back a bit: Lucy is now seeing Emmett, but wants to keep it on the DL for now. He agrees. And we’re introduced to Chris Rios and Erin Cole, fellow rookies, on a night out: Chris and Jackson, although friends, were intensely rivalrous at the Academy, and Chris is evidently a little put out by Jackson’s greater range of experiences while training. Which perhaps explains his conduct the next day: stopping a car after a chase, an amped-up Chris charges at the vehicle and takes two shots to the chest.

At the scene, possibly influenced by the fact that someone else’s boot has just been shot, Tim goes through Lucy for an infraction. Unfortunately, Emmett overhears and intervenes. “She’s my boot”, Tim snaps. “I’ll talk to her however the hell I want to”. And Emmett isn’t getting any thanks from Lucy either: “I did not need saving”, she tells him. Could you argue that Tim went in a little hard? Eh, maybe. But Lucy knows he works her hard because he thinks she’s good enough; and Tim’s doing it because in a month’s time, in theory, Lucy will have completed her training, and he won’t be there to save her. Also they love each other. Never forget that.

Meantime, Nolan and Harper find the shooter’s car. The perp has run away but left the gun, and fingerprints confirm that it was fired by Serj Derian, a long-standing thorn in the side of the LAPD, but someone against whom they’ve never been able to make a case stick. The reason for that becomes clear when Tim and Lucy search his house: they find a pile of confidential LAPD police reports, suggesting that he’s got a dirty cop on his payroll. And when Nolan gets back to the station he discovers that the gun he’d seized is missing. This is a potentially career-destroying mistake, compounded when news comes through that Chris has died at the hospital.

Nolan, however, is adamant that the gun was taken by another cop while they were engaged in a raid of Derian’s brother’s house, and Lopez reviews everyone’s bodycam footage looking for clues as to who that might be. She discovers that Erin Cole’s camera was deactivated during the raid, but by the time everyone gets to Cole’s house she’s on the run. Nolan catches up with her at the Rose Bowl, and tries to persuade her to give herself up, while she admits that she was under the control of the Derians, and threatens to shoot herself. He appears to be getting through to her, but she’s then shot by Armstrong as she turns towards him. Had no choice, acknowledges Nolan. 

Later on, though, when he’s reviewing footage of the shooting, he realises that Cole said Armstrong’s name before even being aware that he was there, and that as soon as she did so Armstrong shot her: she was about to name him as working for the Derians, and he silenced her. Now, a few weeks ago Nolan was told by nasty-but-hot serial killer Rosalind Dyer (our old friend Annie Wersching) that Armstrong is a wrong ‘un; information which Nolan was disinclined to follow up on, being as Dyer is such an appalling human being. Did she, however, have a point? And will Nolan try to get her to spill the tea in the season finale? I do hope so. Outstanding.

The Rookie s2 ep 18

As the end of the season approaches, The Rookie is hitting top form, with three strong plots in this episode. Nolan and Harper are required to escort a group of four cocky, sullen young offenders to a local prison, as part of a Scared Straight programme intended to persuade them that a life of crime is a bad idea. (Like quite a lot of ideas which seem to make intuitive sense, the evidence that these programmes work is mixed at best. At the very best.) They lose one delinquent along the way when he tries to steal the police van, but that still leaves three of them to be, theoretically, Scared Straight by some ferocious prison guards and a couple of inmates. Including, joyously, a recurring Rookie baddie, the urbane but thoroughly nasty Oscar Hutchinson (Matthew Glave).

Then a riot breaks out and, armed with nothing more than bits of wooden chairs, the visiting party has to escape through a prison which, by then, is mostly under the control of inmates who would like vey little more than to take a couple of cops and a few kids as hostages. At this point I started to wonder whether this was all some kind of demented theatrical production aimed at terrifying the kids, but no: it’s a real riot, and after Nolan and Harper get out, with an assist from Hutchinson, they discover that the prison warden has been captured. What to do? Well, plunge back in, of course, still armed with a couple of chair legs, and free the warden with Hutchinson’s help, traded for a plasma TV and a few other privileges. It’s ludicrous, of course, but also properly thrilling in places.

For Bradford, the day starts… badly? Rachel has been offered a new job. In New York. “You have to take it”, counsels Bradford. Yeah you do, Ms Speedbump, I thought; take yourself and your possible life-limiting illness off to Manhattan, and leave Bradford and Chen to get on with it. And for all of them, it gets a bit worse after that: Rachel has been monitoring the health of a young boy who seems to get better when hospitalised, and then worse when back home. His mother, a single parent, has been funding treatment through a Go Fund Me. Well, that all adds up to Munchausen syndrome by proxy if anything ever did, so Rachel ensures that the child is taken into care, only to discover subsequently that the cause of his illness is something else entirely. And then she gets arrested. Does Bradford really need this in his life? Does he, though?

Lopez, meantime, has been flagged, by data-analysing-tech-idiot Elvis Grimaldi, as the Officer Most Likely To Be Sued. And Grimaldi has the ear of the brass. So Grimaldi accompanies Lopez and Jackson on what is intended to be a low-risk, low-impact tour of duty, during which she will help old men across the road and rescue kittens from trees. Lopez, instead, has set up a particularly dangerous operation, intended to give her the opportunity to kick some perps around. While that’s going on, one of Grimaldi’s other clients has appeared at his HQ with a gun. Grimaldi didn’t see that coming, calling into question the predictive value of his algorithms.

And Nolan meets Grace’s husband – not divorced yet – Simon, when he turns up at the hospital. Which is OK as far as it goes, but Simon’s reason for doorstepping his estranged wife is that their son is having trouble at school, thought to be related to his parents’ marital woes. Simon wants to give it another go with Grace, and she’s considering it, because trapping yourself in an unhappy marriage is… a thing, I guess? That apart, though, this was excellent.

The Rookie s2 ep 17

Sometimes, for no particular reason, an episode just works. Like this one, which starts with a brisk and entertaining cold open – Nolan and Chen working a nice sting to extract a confession – and carries on from there. In the main case of the week Nolan’s CI, Bianca, is back in the life, despite Nolan’s efforts to get her clean. But she’s able to give him details of a big fentanyl deal which she says is about to go down, also involving the endearingly-named Ripper, an old contact of Harper’s from her undercover days. 

The DEA, of course, wants in on the action. In both senses: DEA Agent Banks is a former colleague of Harper’s, and there’s an evident mutual attraction. But before they can get to that Banks is keen to use Bianca to bring Ripper down. Nolan, though, doesn’t think she’s ready, and it’s interesting to see how he’s allowed to make that call, with Gray now quite comfortable about trusting his rookie’s judgment, even if the consequence is that, instead, Harper and Nolan go undercover to snare Ripper. At the same time, though, it’s clear that perhaps through inexperience Nolan has allowed Bianca to get the wrong impression about their relationship, and he needs to re-establish boundaries. This comes back to bite him when, fuelled by bitterness, she wanders into the middle of a stakeout in order to tell Ripper that the cops are onto him, which puts the whole operation in jeopardy, and leads to her abduction.

Meantime Jackson and Lopez catch a homicide, in which a husband apparently comes home to find his wife murdered. He’s distressed, and vehemently denies carrying out the killing himself. There are two equally obvious outcomes at this point – either he obviously did it (husband, history of domestic incidents, first person on the scene) or he obviously didn’t do it (for exactly the same reasons). But as soon as the cocky, obnoxious Detective Calderon takes over the investigation we know that the husband didn’t do it, precisely because after about two minutes she’s convinced herself that he did, curtails the investigation, and is thoroughly unpleasant to our beloved Lopez while she’s about it. Lopez, pleasingly, gives as good as she gets, and by the end – when she has of course been vindicated – an impressed Calderon lets her interrogate the prime suspect, and even offers to smooth her path to becoming a detective herself.

This leaves Bradford and Chen with a bit of a nothing-y case, notable mainly for the intervention of a Girl Scout who knows how to tie a tourniquet, and because it brings Chen into contact with Emmett, a charming firefighter who Bradford knows a little. Romance is a possibility, and to start with Bradford is entirely silent on whether it’s a good idea, at least ostensibly because he still feels responsible for the events leading up to Chen’s abduction. Eventually, though, he cracks. “You can do better than Emmett”, he tells Chen. Whether by “better” he means someone whose name sounds a little like “Him Stanford” he doesn’t say. But I, for one, am feverishly reading between the lines.

The Rookie s2 ep 16

In the main plot this week, Harper’s daughter Lila is having trouble sleeping – nightmares featuring something about a woman walking down the road at night with blood on her hands – so at the request of her ex-husband Donovan (Enver Gjokaj), she stays over at his house. She wants some additional support, though, so Nolan stays as well, even bringing Grace over for dinner. Donovan looks baffled at this home invasion, as well he might. Needless to say Lila isn’t having nightmares at all: the woman is real. But, while that’s being investigated, Nolan gets dragged into a bizarre Desperate Housewives-esque storyline involving a psychotic neighbour.

Meantime, it’s a busy episode for Chen. To start with, she stumbles into an audition for American Idol while making an arrest, and suddenly finds herself in front of Katy Perry, Lionel Ritchie, and Luke Bryan, who look at her expectantly. So she sings, and – what do you know? – she’s excellent. For Melissa O’Neil, who famously won Canadian Idol, it’s a bit of fun and an opportunity to show off her chops. 

Later, she has to deal with while working at the front desk, she is befriended by Valerie Castillo, a reporter, who is played by Roselyn Sanchez. Castillo is investigating multiple robberies by sex workers of clients in upmarket hotels. and when Bradford turns up to find his rookie talking to a journalist he warns Chen to be careful, then spars with Castillo. She gives as good as she gets, and once Bradford stalks off she notes to Chen that Bradford “can sure wear a suit”. As Castillo is played by Roselyn Sanchez, Tim Winter’s IRL wife, Chen wisely keeps her counsel on that point. Unsurprisingly, Castillo is using Chen, to Bradford’s visible scorn. And in the middle of all that she has to deal with an incident involving a deadly snake named William Snakespeare. 

I enjoyed this episode while I was watching it, but I’m not sure that it added up to a lot. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to. I wasn’t delighted, though, by Lopez accepting Wesley’s proposal of marriage. There’s something kind of… annoying about him.

The Rookie s2 ep 15

At the start of this busy and entertaining episode Nolan suddenly realises that his credit rating is tanking, and on further investigation it looks as if he’s been the victim of identity theft. He takes it to in-house expert Detective Summerland (Jeremy Davies, giving it the full twitchy Jeremy Davies number. Which, I will admit, I quite like) who confirms that his son’s college fund has also been emptied, but reassures him that if they find the baddie, Nolan might be able to get a few cents back in five or six years. This isn’t entirely welcome news. Fortunately, the miscreant (Seth Green) was dumb enough to spend some of his money on a watch with inbuilt GPS, which means that Nolan and Harper can track him easily enough (I’m not sure that Nolan should be investigating a case in which he is the main victim, but whatevs). Despite all the evidence pointing to him as the thief, he’s pretty insistent that it wasn’t him, to the point where I wondered whether the driver of the mysterious SUV which parks outside his house was going to be a lot more involved than he turned out to be.

In the slightest of this week’s storylines Jackson finds a case file which has actually, rather than metaphorically, fallen down the back of a filing cabinet. It’s a relatively minor vandalism from a year ago which was never assigned, and when Jackson brings the victim in and apologises for the LAPD’s apparent indolence, it’s perhaps no great surprise that the victim doesn’t want it taken any further. He’s very insistent, though, to the point where Jackson decides it might be better to do some digging after all. Unsurprisingly, the victim is hiding something. Quite a big something.

The other storylines are heavyweights. Grey and Lopez are attending the parole hearing of the man who, ten years ago, shot Grey and killed his partner; Lopez, on her first day, was on the scene. This becomes particularly interesting when Lopez reveals to Grey that his partner, who Grey thought was sober after battling an alcohol problem, had been drinking on the day of his death. Which gives Grey something to think about, particularly when he encounters the killer’s young son at the prison. Now, the traditional stance of American cop procedurals, even those with an otherwise liberal worldview, is somewhat Old Testamentary on issues of punishment, particularly for cop killers. It might just be confirmation bias on my part, but it does seem to me that this particular tide is turning, and Grey is notably ambivalent about whether the killer should get parole. He doesn’t, this time, but Grey puts down a marker: if you do get out, turn yourself into a man your son can be proud of.

The other storyline starts out light and ends up dark, and I’m not really sure to make of it. Rachel’s father Colin – old school small-town cop – is in LA to see his daughter, and to meet Bradford. To start with, the two of them face off – maybe, I idly wonder, Colin senses that Bradford is trifling with his daughter’s attentions, and would sooner be hitting it with his boot – but game recognise game, and soon enough they’re teaming up to catch the guy who broke into Colin’s hire car. So far, so standard. But then Colin warns Bradford away from his daughter, because he’s a cop, wedded to the job, and is he going to look after Rachel when she gets sick. Uh…? says Bradford. Oh, says Colin, you didn’t know. My bad.

Because Rachel has a chance of developing Huntington’s disease, and Bradford didn’t know. Nor did Chen, as it happens. Rachel isn’t particularly happy about such an intimate detail being revealed to everyone, when her desire is to live a normal life for as long as possible without everyone looking at her as if she were dying. Bradford, of course, vows to stick by her. Not sure whether this makes Chenford any more likely, mind you, which is a problem.

The Rookie s2 ep 14

Nolan and Harper, chasing a robbery suspect, stumble across a dead body: Joe De La Cruz, a military veteran whose neck was expertly snapped, suggesting that he was killed by someone who knew what they were doing. Investigations lead to his roommate Mitch, who confirms that Joe seemed suddenly to have access to vast quantities of cash money, being stored in a warehouse. Mitch has a prosthetic leg, and is a vet himself; and, moreover, one who was previously in a squad commanded by Bradford. He, of course, blames himself – entirely wrongly – for the incident which led to Mitch losing his leg. (Chen puts him right about that, because she knows what he’s like.) The money turns out to be top-quality counterfeit, and the warehouse – when they get there – is empty. Meantime Chen gets a dog, Jackson and Lopez come across a man who is speaking incoherently, because he has a bullet wound on the top of his head, Bradford and Chen attempt to care about a man who claims that his hottie wife is being spied on via drone while she’s sunbathing, and Grace gives Nolan a fitness tracker so that he can monitor his stress levels.

And then, all of a sudden, what was looking like an inconsequential episode snapped into focus and got good. The LAPD is told to shut down its investigation into Joe’s murder for national security reasons. This, inevitably, only piques everyone’s curiosity, as does a visit to Nolan by someone who might or might not be Colonel Norman Jengus of the Defense Intelligence Agency (Roger Cross, last seen in Coroner, giving good menace). He has identified Nolan as the weak link in the team, and warns him to back away if he knows what’s good for him. Well, that isn’t going to work either, and Bradford, Chen, and Harper join Nolan in tailing Jengus to find out what’s going on. This leads to a nicely murky conclusion, in which the LAPD gets someone for Joe’s murder, but at the price of turning a blind eye to some pretty major unpleasantness. 

As for #Chenford: “Rules matter, boot”, Bradford tells Chen. But “some things matter more”. YEAH they do. Also the dog.

The Rookie s2 ep 13

The end of season 3 of The Good Doctor has given me a bit of capacity to write about something else. So I thought I’d give The Rookie a go, for a couple of weeks at least. As I said at the end of the first season I was, specifically because of the loss of Afton Williamson, more than a little concerned about how things might go: as well as what it might say about the culture of the show, she was an excellent member of the cast. And my worries increased when we were introduced to Nolan’s new training officer, Nyla Harper (Mekia Cox), who seemed at first to be the sort of aggressively difficult character that The Rookie really doesn’t need. She settled down, though, and while Williamson is still missed, as far as I’m concerned the show is ticking over nicely.

This week’s episode is typical, and typically enjoyable, with each of the rookies given the task of following up on a dormant investigation. So Jackson and Lopez look into the theft of a hideous statue from a garden in an affluent area: suspects, everyone, including the wife of the man who bought the statue. Nolan and Harper have a robbery/homicide, in which a shopkeeper was shot. And Bradford and Chen are given perhaps the trickiest case: a young man out of prison is working in a bakery and trying to get out of gang life, but his former associates are determined that he’ll launder dirty money for them. Keeping him both out of trouble, and alive, looks like an impossible circle to square. Sergeant Grey (the terrific Richard T. Jones) tells Bradford that it’s the sort of difficult call he’ll need to make when he’s a sergeant himself: yes, Bradford has passed the sergeant exam, a favourite device of every American cop show I’ve ever seen.

Nolan’s personal life, meantime, is becoming complicated: not only does he invite Dr Grace Sawyer (Ali Larter) over to his new house for dinner, he suddenly discovers that his estranged father has died, leaving him a legacy in the shape of a car. And that he has a half-brother, Pete. Pete is played by Pete Davidson, who is actually quite good, but kind of feels as if he’s maybe wandered in from another show. He then wanders out again with exotic dancer Chastity, played quite charmingly by Meg DeLacy.

But there’s another reason for liking The Rookie. For most of the show’s run I’ve been enjoying, in a kind of low-key way, the taut but undeniable chemistry between Chen and Bradford, while coming to terms with the unlikelihood of any sort of romantic connection: Bradford regards his duties as a TO as sacred; and Chen, of course, gave up her relationship with Nolan because of the complications involved in dating a fellow officer. (It should be acknowledged in passing that Chen and Nolan’s graceful transition from lovers to friends is very much to The Rookie’s credit.) After episodes 10 and 11 of this season, though, in which Chen is abducted by a serial killer, throwing Bradford into a state of terror, I am unashamedly shipping Chen and Bradford VERY HARD INDEED. I don’t care that they work together, or that he supervises her. I am ALL ABOUT THE #CHENFORD. (And if you want reasons why you should be too, I recommend this on ShipRecced.) 

And so this week, Grey pulls a few strings and ensures that Bradford is offered the chance to transfer to another division as Sergeant. In two weeks. Chen looks suitably shocked. Two weeks! At the end of the episode Chen puts a brave face on it. “North Hollywood”, she tells Bradford, “is lucky to have a sergeant like you coming in”. But Bradford tells Chen that he’s turned the offer down. “Tim Bradford finishes what he starts. I haven’t finished training you yet.” Beat. “No, you haven’t”, murmurs Chen. No, indeed he hasn’t. And how her “training” might be “finished” is something which is going to consume me for the next few weeks.

Public Service Announcement 6 of 2020: Good Omens, The Rookie, Taken Down

Based on the 1990 book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens is an Amazon/BBC co-production which has been available on Prime since May 2019, and now makes its way to terrestrial TV. Leads David Tennant and Michael Sheen play a demon and an angel trying to save the Earth. A stellar cast also includes Frances McDormand – as, quite rightly, the voice of God – Jon Hamm, and Nick Offerman. Good Omens was reasonably well received when first shown, but as I have no interest in the work of Gaiman and Pratchett, or in fantasy as a genre, this probably isn’t for me. Having said that it doesn’t sound a million miles away from Lucifer, which I love (tonight, BBC Two, 9pm).

I’m much more interested in The Rookie, which in my view is one of those procedurals which becomes, as it finds its feet, a little more than the sum of its parts. I liked its first season a lot, and I’m pleased that it was renewed for this second season. It does not, of course, return entirely unscathed, and I’ve already said pretty much all that I have to about the loss of fan favourite Afton Williamson from the show. Mekia Cox (as the lead character’s new TA), Harrold Perrineau, and Ali Larter all join the cast this time round (Thursday 16 January, Sky Witness, 9pm).

And RTE’s six-part crime drama Taken Down makes its British debut tonight at 10pm on BBC Scotland. (It will, I think, be available UK-wide on the iPlayer.) A young Nigerian woman is found dead at a Dublin bus stop, and the investigation leads police officers into the world of asylum seekers. It’s co-written by Jo Spain, one of my favourite crime authors, and is probably worth a look for that alone.

The Rookie s1 ep 20

I had something else planned. This was going to be a quick post to say that The Rookie had become one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2018/19 season: I expected a Nathan Fillion vehicle, and I got it, but what I hadn’t anticipated was that good writing and an excellent supporting cast would turn the show into much more of an ensemble piece. Like Unpopcult favourite 9-1-1, it’s a show about decent people (mostly) trying to do their best in difficult circumstances, and every now and again it packs a solid emotional punch. Looking forward to season 2, I was going to say; and some particular praise for Afton Williamson and Eric Winter, both combining intensity and humanity in their roles as training officers.

And then… well. Last week Williamson announced that she was leaving the show. Uh-oh, I thought; there’s probably another shoe to drop. And, sure enough, Williamson has now clarified that she quit because of racial and sexual harassment, and the unsatisfactory response of the show’s hierarchy – specifically show runner Alexi Hawley – to her complaint about both. (It should be said that the racial harassment came from the show’s “hair department”, per Williamson, and the sexual harassment is alleged to have come from a “recurring guest star”, rather than any of the show’s regular cast or crew. I can think of two obvious candidates, and a third possible, but it would be unfair to name names.)

The production studio now claims to be investigating Williamson’s allegations, and it can be said with certainty that we haven’t heard the last about all of this. As ever, I don’t pretend to know the truth, although it might reasonably be said that there would be little obvious reason for Williamson to walk away from a gig of this nature unless the working environment were, indeed, toxic. So I’ll just say that (a) there are one or two people here, not necessarily accused of any personal impropriety themselves, who need to speak up; (b) this is a huge loss to the show, because Williamson was close to being the MVP; (c) I now wonder whether s2 will actually happen; and (d) this sort of shit is why we can’t have nice things.