E1 Entertainment // 2011 // 550 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // July 12th, 2012
Serve. Protect. Don't screw up.
Once upon a time, the summer months were a wasteland of reruns on network TV. The stakes were low; the ratings were even lower. That all changed with the advent of reality TV, which was cheap to produce and drew enough of an audience that networks could justify the small expense and be able to make the claim that at least something new was on the air. Then, a few years back, networks (encouraged, no doubt, by the success found by cable networks like TNT and USA) got wise and began airing original scripted shows during the summer, most of which bit the dust within just a few weeks.
One show that survived is the young-cops-in-love drama, Rookie Blue, a show whose second season arrives on Blu-ray just in time for the new summer season to kick off on ABC. Is Rookie Blue: The Complete Second Season worth the investment, or is it just more disposable summer fare?
Here are the 13 episodes that make up Rookie Blue: The Complete Second Season:
While working security at a concert, Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym, Reaper) is caught in the middle of a shooting; new detective Jo Rosati (Camille Sullivan, The Butterfly Effect) comes to Division 15 and has a romantic history with McNally's boyfriend, Det. Luke Callaghan (Eric Johnson, Smallville).
"Might Have Been"
Andy and Officer Gail Peck (Charlotte Sullivan, Defendor) go undercover as cocktail waitresses to break up a drug operation; a civilian files a complaint against Dov Epstein (Gregory Smith, Book of Love) which tests his friendship with his roommate, Chris Diaz (Travis Milne, Bionic Woman).
"Bad Moon Rising"
Division 15 has its hands full when a full moon has everyone acting crazy -- especially a possibly crazy man who refuses to take his medication.
"Heart & Sparks"
In the wake of a recent tragic shooting, the officers of Division 15 are tested after an arsonist burns down a Laundromat, bringing a number of issues and fears to the surface.
The officers pose as car dealers to close out some outstanding warrants; Dov and Chris wind up in a deadly situation after stumbling upon a meth lab; Andy and Tracy Nash (Enuka Okuma, Larry Crowne) try to help out a homeless woman; Luke and Jo grow closer.
"In Plain View"
Andy and Jo are forced to work together to solve the murder of a police informant; Gail must protect a kid who may have witnessed the murder.
"The One That Got Away"
Despite their recent difficulties, Andy has to put her trust in Luke to help him find a murder suspect.
Division 15 is locked down under quarantine when a man brought in by Gail gets inexplicably sick; Diaz goes undercover to solve a bank robbery; Dov hits it off with a bomb tech.
Andy and Diaz try out for Division 15's mounted unit; Dov and Gail try to prevent an Asian gang hit, and end up sharing an awkward moment in the process.
"Best Laid Plans"
Andy must rescue the victim of a terrible car accident (Kathleen Robertson, Scary Movie 2); the officers of Division 15 work together to track down a bank robber and kidnapper; Dov and Diaz have it out.
"A Little Faith"
Andy, Tracy and Dov all participate in an undercover exercise that strands them out in the middle of nowhere and asks them to find their way back and score drugs in the process; Andy's new identity brings her closer to her training officer, Sam Swarek (Ben Bass, Monk), who is now deep undercover with a bad, bad man.
"On the Double"
A recent shooting is blamed on Gail; Swarek's cover continues to be compromised when he and Andy spend more time together.
"God's Good Grace"
When Swarek goes missing, the whole division must pull together to find him before it's too late.
There is absolutely nothing new or groundbreaking about the ABC summer replacement series Rookie Blue. There's not really a single thing that the show does that's different, save for being set in Toronto (which I'm convinced is a large part of the reason I like it -- it has the huge advantage of being Canadian). It is, as the disc jacket suggests, basically just Grey's Anatomy set in the world of police instead of inside a hospital. It has attractive young people learning the ropes of a difficult job from a staff of wiser, more experienced veterans. It's more than a little preoccupied with the romantic lives of its characters, most of whom appear to only date their co-workers. It ends every episode with an indie pop song and a montage of where each person has wound up by that point in the show. And, yet, I really can't stand Grey's Anatomy but found myself enjoying Rookie Blue, so the shows can't be completely identical.
That's because Rookie Blue doesn't take itself quite as seriously. It's serious about police work (though not in a way that's all that realistic; this is very much a TV show), but there's more levity to its tone. The characters aren't as self-involved and whiny. They don't spend their lives feeling sorry for themselves. In fact, it's the characters -- and the sheer size and depth of cast bench -- that makes the show what it is. There's such a wide variety of personalities and the series feels truly lived in; these are people who know one another and who have a history. It's rare that a character is focused on for too long, also, which helps Rookie Blue from becoming too self-indulgent. Though Andy McNally is obviously the show's main character, it's unusual for an episode to go by without at least checking in on every single character at the police station, even if it's just to see how Williams' fertility treatments are going or how Nash is progressing in her studies to make detective. While not every character is deeply developed, they're all interesting and -- more importantly -- likable enough to hold our interest for the amount of time we spend with them.
I'm not a police officer. I have never been a police officer. I can't comment on the accuracy of that aspect of Rookie Blue, except to say that much of it appears to be mostly fantasy. The procedural aspects aren't entirely ignored, and the show clearly means well when it comes to taking police work seriously. I just can't imagine that sending rookie cops undercover as waitresses is common practice, or that all the cops in a single station pair up romantically with one another. But Rookie Blue isn't ever striving for gritty realism. It's a soap opera mixed with a cop drama, and, on those grounds, it works pretty well.
The show looks great in its HD broadcasts, so it stands to reason that it looks great on Entertainment One's disc Blu-ray set. The 13 episodes are spread out over four discs (only one episode is contained on the last disc, along with the special features), all presented in 1.78:1 widescreen. Colors are natural, black levels are deep and consistent and fine detail is terrific throughout; though it never reaches the cinematic heights of shows like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, it looks as good as I've seen a TV series look. The lossless DTS-HD audio track is a little more average, presenting clear dialogue, well balanced pop songs (at nearly the exact same point in every episode, like clockwork) and decent surround activity during the action-oriented beats. There's nothing wrong with it -- the track gets the job done -- but there's not much that's terribly special about it, either.
The only bonus feature included in this set is a collection of seven featurettes, all found on Disc Four: "Season Two: Every Day is Still a First," "Shots Fired," "Horsing Around," "Cops on Coffee," "Travis Talk," "Disorderly Conduct" and "Split Screen Behind-the-Scenes Footage." Most of the featurettes are the standard promotional studio packages, ranging from decent (the split screen piece is kind of cool) to the awful, like a piece on the cast learning to ride horses or another in which they talk about how much they love coffee.
It's a testament to just how much I enjoyed watching Rookie Blue: The Complete Second Season that when I finished working my way through these 13 episodes, I sought out the first few episodes of Season Three (via my cable provider's On Demand service), which has already begun airing on ABC. Did I need to see where the story went? No, because this isn't that kind of show. I just liked living in this world and spending time with these characters enough that I wasn't ready to be done yet. It's totally formulaic. It exhausts almost every cop show cliché imaginable. It's the kind of show that I can't really defend liking, except to say that it's well done and that I enjoyed watching it a whole lot. In this Golden Age of television in which we now live, there are a number of much, much better shows. But even food critics sometimes eat at Taco Bell, right?
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 550 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site