Canuck cop show walking the same tired beat


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There's a reason they put rookies on probation.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/06/2010 (4663 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There’s a reason they put rookies on probation.

It’s a means of testing quality without having to make a long-term commitment; an opportunity to separate the promising newcomers from the no-hope rejects; a guilt-free way of determining which of the newbies doesn’t make the grade.

Rookie Blue is on probation, and the very strong likelihood is that summertime TV viewers are going to take one look and say thanks, but no thanks.

This Canadian-made cop drama, which has a simulcast première tonight at 8 on Global and ABC, arrives backed by a huge promotional push from its Canuck broadcaster as well as a reasonably aggressive pre-launch campaign by its U.S.-network home.

Touted, as it is, in Global’s publicity materials as "the next big TV success story in Canada and around the world," Rookie Blue is a bigger-than-average disappointment because it falls so far short of the expectations created by all the hype.

Based on the trio of episodes provided for preview, Rookie Blue is something slightly less than a run-of-the-mill cop show, filled with stock characters and storylines that are as threadbare as they are predictable.

The series focuses on five fresh-from-the-academy constables working in a downtown precinct of a big-city police department. They’re young, they’re ambitious, they’re attractive, they’re emotionally conflicted, and they represent pretty much the full range of stereotypical cop-show upstart characters.

Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym) is committed but tentative, burdened not only by the pressures of being a new cop but also by the fact her father is a once-celebrated detective who drank himself out of a job.

Dov Epstein (Gregory Smith) is a smaller-than-average cop who’s constantly overcompensating for his physical shortcomings; raised by peacenik-hippie parents (as evidenced by his first name), he feels he has something to prove — and mostly, he’s right.

Traci Nash (Enuka Okuma) comes from tough inner-city roots; she’s a single mom with a six-year-old son, and she’s barely been on the job a day but she’s already in a forbidden relationship with an older colleague who was one of her academy trainers.

Chris Diaz (Travis Milne) is a small-town kid trying to live out his dreams in the big city; he was one of the best in his academy class, but is such a by-the-book do-gooder that quickly he finds himself behind a desk rather than out on the streets.

And Gail Peck (Charlotte Sullivan) is the inevitable poor little rich girl whose pursuit of the same success enjoyed by her parents — essentially police-department royalty — leads her down a path of lies, deception, corner cutting and credit grabbing.

In tonight’s opener, the five rookies are thrust into a first day at work that exposes some to danger and others to boredom. The in-the-field officers are paired with senior colleagues who are supposed to be mentoring them but who, almost without exception, do the old "you go in alone while I sit in the car and eat my sandwich" thing.

As a result, Andy and Traci are sent into a tenement building to track down a dangerous drug dealer alone (it doesn’t go well); meanwhile, Dov quickly finds that his small stature and limited confidence make it very unlikely that bad guys are going to heed his "Stop! Police!" commands.

It’s a sign of a good police drama when you feel completely drawn into the story, sharing the tension of the characters onscreen and twitching in your seat when the unexpected plot twists send the action careening in a different direction.

It’s not so favourable when — as Rookie Blue does — a show makes you want to shout at the TV screen because you can’t believe the characters haven’t figured out what you knew was going to happen five minutes before.

It’s the kind of predictable, discouraging performance that makes one inclined to take this on-probation newcomer aside and say, "Sorry, kid, it just isn’t working out…"

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Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

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