The rookie mistakes are in the distant past. The rookie jitters have long since been laid to rest.
Even the sophomore-slump concerns are ancient history.
Rookie Blue is a fourth-year series, and it looks and acts like it's all grown up.
The Canadian-made cop drama, a resident of the off-season summer schedule since its introduction in June 2010, survived a rather shaky start and, as it enters its fourth border-straddling campaign (airing simultaneously on Global and ABC), has established itself as a reliable but unspectacular summer fill-in.
Season 4 of Rookie Blue picks up six storyline months after last season's finale finished. Fifteen Division regulars Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym) and Nick Collins (Winnipegger Peter Mooney) have been working undercover for the past six months, attempting to infiltrate a crack-cocaine ring, and it appears their efforts are about to produce results.
Just before they can facilitate a big bust, however, a miscalculation by the drug-squad boss (guest star Louis Ferreira) sends the whole operation spinning sideways, leaving McNally and Collins scrambling to maintain their cover story as their underworld contacts grown increasingly suspicious.
Meanwhile, back at 15 Division, the squad is feeling financial pressure from downtown and the officers are instructed to press hard at meeting traffic-ticket quotas by setting up speed traps in fish-in-a-barrel locations. One such radar location nets a driver going nearly double the speed limit, which leads to the leadfoot's sports car being impounded. Before he can be processed and charged with offering a bribe to Officer Dov Epstein (Gregory Smith), however, 15 Division gets a visit from drug-squad types who demand the driver be released because he's a key figure in the crack-den crackdown operation.
As is often the case in Rookie Blue, what happens next is rather predictable, as McNally's erstwhile squadmates figure out she's in danger and take it upon themselves to do an end-run on the drug squad to make sure she's returned safely to the fold.
Despite its lack of surprises, it's a reasonably satisfying and action-filled episode that will reassure Rookie Blue's fans that the show will continue to deliver the same kind of light-diversion drama it has provided for the past three summers.
By meeting the most modest of expectations, Rookie Blue succeeds. At this point in its run, its producers clearly aren't angling for a spot in ABC's regular-season lineup and seem, instead, to be content with the notion of being a south-of-the-border bench player for as long as they're welcome on the ABC team.
What's a bit interesting is that Global, too, has opted to keep Rookie Blue as solely a summer drop-in series. Unlike CTV, which aired Flashpoint as a regular-season show and then doubled up by airing Canadian reruns in simulcast with first-run U.S. network showings, Global remains in lockstep with ABC's summer-only plan for Rookie Blue.
And that's not necessarily a bad thing. By not asking too much of Rookie Blue, Global's programmers have pretty much ensured that they won't be disappointed by the modest returns its summer standby delivers, both creatively and ratings-wise.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @BradOswald