Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer
I am a big supporter of good television that comes from any other country than the US, for diversity’s sake really. We all are so accustomed to the way a standard American TV show is edited, cut, lit, scripted that we can almost predict every single angle and storyline we are about to see. Only now and then do some shows break the mold (mostly those run on HBO or are called Mad Men), so it’s always good to branch out and see what else is out there.
And granted, Canada isn’t a very far place to venture, but it’s a start.
Rookie Blue isn’t technically a purely Canadian show, since it is distributed by ABC, but let’s go with it anyway. You could think of it as your standard police show, cops riding in their cars along the streets of a big city and solving the big and small crimes they come across.
Rookie Blue inserts, well, rookies into this equation, fresh out of the Academy, and they get into all kinds of trouble. They defy every single order they are given, forget to load their guns, argue with their superiors (if they aren’t sleeping with them) You could think of them as exactly the same bunch as Meredith, Cristina, Alex, Izzie and George on Grey’s Anatomy in the first season.
It always requires a whole lot of suspension of disbelief to go along with the idea that persistent misbehavior like this would not get these characters fired. On either Rookie Blue or Grey’s Anatomy. The thing is that on GA most of the time the interns end up saving someone by their insubordination and technically they are not in any program that operates on orders, but on Rookie Blue, the rookies put their own lives in danger and defy direct orders, the core and center of any police force. You can see where I’d have trouble following Rookie Blue‘s logic all the way.
The very first thing I said to myself when I caught the pilot episode was: “These kids are all way too pretty to all be serving on the same unit in the same city on the police force.” I mean, sure, you get the occasional looker in uniform, but not so many of them at once. Ironically, this is the case for almost all and any TV shows worldwide, so let’s not hold it against Rookie Blue. I think it was just the backlash I felt from watching Southland and falling in love with it and being really bitter when it was treated to badly. Finally we had a cop show that was gritty and not overly flashy. And yes, we had the way too handsome Ben McKenzie as a rookie police officer on that show as well, but at least his training officer didn’t look like he wanted to be in an underwear ad.
Where Rookie Blue breaks away from just being an imitation of a traditional American cop show is when it skips lengthy expositions. Sometimes this works to its disadvantage, for example when the rookies aren’t really properly introduced as characters because they are such stereotypes anyway and we as the audience are just expected to sympathize with them anyway, because “we know the story”. Rookie Blue lets all other cop shows that came before serve as its exposition, which is kind of genius and kind of a cop out (excuse the pun). But within the later episodes this lack of exposition actually serves the show well. We don’t have to go through the actual lengthy conversations some of the characters have between each other, we are brought in at the end of a conversation and its resulting consequence (like when Diaz has to decide whether or not to propose to his girlfriend since kindergarten and Epstein is there to taunt him about it).
Unfortunately the lack of exposition also means we are thrown into crime scenes and criminal events without any context, which results in us not caring too much about the people involved in these crimes (whether it be the victims or the perpetrators with a bad background). And yet, again, you can see this as a strength of the show, because after all the cops are thrown into these situations just as unexpectedly as we are. They don’t get to know the victims before the actual crime, they know nothing about the criminals until they do the investigating and find out, so why should we hold it against the show that it doesn’t make us care? That’s the whole point to being a cop. You have to care in the general sense, as in you have to want to serve and protect, but you can’t care about every single person you encounter on the job or you will go crazy.
I can’t say I find any of the rookies particularly compelling as characters. Sure, I sympathize with Traci Nash trying to have a career and being a young mother at the same time, but I don’t understand the choices she makes, because it is never properly explained (again, here the lack of exposition is a hindrance). Why exactly does she insist on boinking that detective? From what I could gather it has been going on for a while, since before she left the Academy, but I still don’t think it is a great idea, even if he cares about her kid. I really don’t get what attracts her to him. Mostly because we never really got to know him either apart from his “I’m too cool for school” sunglasses, beard and snooty one liners.
And I am not entirely sure why everyone is losing their shiz about Andy McNally either. She is very pretty and her alcoholic dad was a cop, but that doesn’t make her a very good rookie at all. In fact, she is the one who keeps doing things wrong every single week. She also has a few successes, but she more stumbles into them than she actually deserves them. Supposedly she has all the instincts to be a good cop and has the heart of a lion, but she is also in a love triangle between her training officer and a homicide detective, so ultimately I have to question her brains and her self-control.
What I find refreshing about Rookie Blue is the fact that it is set in Toronto, so we get to see a few shots of a big city we haven’t seen a hundred times before and we get some great Canadian accents, which is a nice change of pace for our ears. And the show is a little less cheesy and tearjerker-y than an American cop show of the same template would be.
Other than that, Rookie Blue is missable TV, so don’t be too bummed if you miraculously have something else to do when it airs. Something like sweeping the top of your cabinets or waxing your Sunday shoes or staring blankly into the sky.
Author: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer
Born in Germany, lived in the US, now in the UK. Always taking my love for TV and writing with me. Life participator. Blogger. Gaming enthusiast.