The Rookie – ABC sends Castle to L.A.?

The Rookie banner art

Nathan Fillion’s new police show, The Rookie, needs to overcome the notion that it is just a veiled attempt to revive Castle.  However, starting later in the season could be enough to draw in additional curious viewers.

Synopsis

Airing Tuesdays at 10pm Eastern, with the first episode currently available on their website, ABC says:

Starting over isn’t easy, especially for small-town guy John Nolan (Nathan Fillion) who, after a life-altering incident, is pursuing his dream of being a police officer. As the force’s oldest rookie, he’s met with skepticism from higher-ups who see him as just a walking midlife crisis.

The Rookie appears to be a decent enough departure from Castle that there could be something intriguing to see.  Nothing currently comes to mind about a police officer entering the force in their 40s.  Well, unless you count the dismal Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol.

Trailer

Thankfully, the official trailer for The Rookie displays very little Castle-like comedy and instead primarily focuses on drama.  The question is whether Castle or even Nathan Fillion fans are ready to see our captain in a serious show.  Check out the trailer:

Characters

Nathan Fillion plays rookie John Nolan, a 40 year old former family man who decided to reinvent himself by pursuing a life-long dream.  As expected, practically the entire police force has issues with Nolan; some warranted, while others are based solely on bigotry.  Ostracized from the onset, Nolan feels pressured to exceed expectations with mixed results.  Overall, the scenario’s realism appears on solid ground, both from Nolan’s character, as well as the department’s.

Academy hotshot and fellow rookie Jackson West is played by Titus Makin Jr. (Glee).  Even at such a young age, West brings quite a bit of baggage with him, including a family name he may be expected to live up to.  The question is whether his upbringing and academy training has sufficiently prepared him for a career in law enforcement.

Rounding out the class of rookies is Melissa O’Neil’s character Lucy Chen, who makes a dramatic entrance upon arrival at LAPD.  Lucy is paired up with officer Tim Bradford as her training officer, who likely would not mind calling R. Lee Ermey “Dad”.  As a female officer, Lucy undoubtedly has a steep hill to climb for acceptance, but her skills appear honed.

Conclusion

Though unrealistically dramatic for a rookie’s first day, the pilot episode is a delightful glimpse of what the series has in store.  The characters are immediately deep enough to make them interesting, each coming with their own demons.  Slightly comedic moments break up the mood between dramatic scenes without being silly.

The Rookie is definitely not Castle; nor is it another Law & Order.  While the diversity of the characters reminds me of House, the action is reminiscent of The Shield.  (Have I mentioned enough shows yet?)  If that excites you, go watch the first episode.  There is more than enough breadth to explore the characters without needing to resort to incredible action sequences every 5 minutes.  Nathan Fillion is doing an admirable job portraying Nolan in believable fashion, needing to work harder and faster than his fellow officers.  This is splendidly on display during Nolan’s first foot chase as he is breathing somewhat heavily just seconds into the pursuit.  It would be an understatement to say that I am wondering what happens to these characters as the season unfolds.

One concern I have is that viewers cannot simply start watching from any point.  Clearly, each character’s story will slowly reveal itself over the season.  Jumping into the middle of the season would likely cause confusion and disbelief at the mere premise of the show.  My suggestion?  Watch the first episode and decide.

If this fails to appeal to you, check out Last Man Standing, New Amsterdam, or Magnum P.I.  Alternatively, if you keep thinking, “Can’t they come up with any original ideas?”, check out God Friended Me.  Seriously.

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