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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Nothing wrong with reliable Blue-print

Solid cop series worth watching

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With the benefit of hindsight, the producers of the homegrown police drama Rookie Blue might agree that their choice of title lacked foresight and was, perhaps, a bit unnecessarily pessimistic.

As it begins its third season (tonight at 9), the Global/ABC summer series has long since lost any thematic connection to its name -- its fictional cops are no longer wet-behind-the-ears newbies, and the show's storylines can no longer concern themselves with young law-enforcement types learning hard lessons from their wide-eyed rookie mistakes.

Hmmm. Maybe the folks who created Rookie Blue didn't believe it would be as successful as it has turned out to be. But three seasons -- by any prime-time standard, on either side of the border, whether in the regular September-to-May season or as a summer fill-in -- is a pretty darned respectable run.

And despite having basically outgrown its title, the fact of the matter is that Rookie Blue remains a pretty good show -- not great, not groundbreaking or genre-redefining, but a solid, watchable show whose characters have grown to be fully worthy of viewers' investment of time and emotional attachment.

Season 3 maintains that momentum, opening with an episode that brings a sense of closure to last season's finale, features a big-name guest star and introduces a bit of Winnipeg talent into the regular roster.

The opener, titled The First Day of the Rest of Your Life, finds Andy (Missy Peregrym) preparing to return to work after having served a three-month suspension for conduct unbecoming, after her romantic entanglement with former training officer Sam (Ben Bass) was revealed (he was suspended, too, but for a shorter term, so he's already back on the job when the series resumes).

Even before she can attend the reinstatement hearing that will decide whether she's allowed to rejoin the squad, however, Andy is pulled back into the action. After Sam picks her up at the airport (she spent her time off doing some extreme-sports adventuring up north), their cruiser car is involved in a four-vehicle crash that seems to have been caused by an impaired senior (guest star William Shatner).

Andy, who's still not on active duty and has been ordered by Sam to remain in the car, jumps out to rescue a young girl from the back of a burning van. After a brief checkup from Andy, the girl disappears, and as the investigation at the accident scene continues, it becomes clear that there's something fishy about how she was being transported in the back of a cargo van.

By the time Andy gets to the station to prepare for the tribunal that awaits her, 15 Division is in full scramble mode as information from the crash raises the possibility that the missing girl might be linked to a years-old child-abduction case. And the old-timer from the accident scene turns out to be the missing girl's grandfather, who was with her when she vanished seven years earlier, had never stopped searching for her, and believes he may have seen her through the van window that morning.

Meanwhile, former 15 Division rookie Gail (Charlotte Sullivan) is chagrined to discover that the squad's newest arrival is an Afghan-war veteran named Nick (Winnipegger Peter Mooney) with whom she had a rather messy romantic fling some years back. Tossing them into the same work environment will only serve to further complicate things at a police HQ where the emphasis is as much on creating bedmates as it is on cuffing criminals.

Overall, Rookie Blue's third-season opener does a nice job of re-establishing relationships and tweaking the storyline blueprint to satisfy returning viewers, while delivering enough stand-alone action to convince newcomers that this is a show worth an investment of a few summer hours.

It isn't about rookies any more, but that's no reason for the folks who named this enjoyable off-season diversion to have the blues.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

TV REVIEW

Rookie Blue

Starring Missy Peregrym, Gregory Smith, Ben Bass, Charlotte Sullivan and Peter Mooney

Tonight at 9

Global and ABC

31Ñ2 stars out of 5

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 24, 2012 D3

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