On the day of his divorce, construction company owner John Nolan (Nathan Fillion) is at his local bank in a small town in Pennsylvania, in order to drop his wedding ring in a safety deposit box. Nolan is, perhaps, a little sad-sacky, but still looks like Nathan Fillion. Anyway, just as he’s on his way out two gunmen burst in, and Nolan finds himself in the middle of an armed bank robbery.
He handles himself pretty well, and, nine months later, he’s starting a new job, as the oldest rookie in the LAPD. He’s joined by fellow “boots” Jackson West (Titus Makin), the cocksure son of a senior LAPD officer; and Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neil), who makes her first arrest on her way to work on day 1. Each of them is assigned a training officer; Nolan gets the ambitious – but apparently supremely competent and fair-minded – Officer Talia Bishop (Afton Williamson). On the other hand the watch commander, Sergeant Grey (Richard T. Jones) has already decided that Nolan is a “walking mid-life crisis” who will endanger the rest of his cops, and needs to be driven out.
And we’re off. The Rookie adopts the same sort of approach as 9-1-1: cases arise, are dealt with, and we move on. Small plates. Tapas TV, if you will. Fleeting use of bodycam footage gives it an air of verisimilitude. In the course of his first day Nolan will be hazed and humiliated, will encounter his first save and his first death, and will be hit on by a “badge bunny” waitress. And while I was working out who to ship him with – Talia, maybe, the bank manager in the robbery scene, or someone we haven’t seen yet…? – the show pulled a neat little twist on me. Well, I was unspoiled, and I didn’t see it coming.
‘The Rookie’ is very much a vehicle for the considerable charm and likeable screen presence of Nathan Fillion, designed to appeal to his fan base. Even the name – Rook(ie), Castle – acts as a subliminal reminder of his last big TV hit. There’s a consequent danger that he’ll overshadow everyone else in the show, but I thought that the supporting cast was efficiently and effectively drawn; I already feel that I’m sufficiently familiar with all of them. Obviously, ‘The Rookie’ isn’t going to shake your world. Equally obviously, I liked it.