Sony // 1972 // 1174 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // July 18th, 2007
True Blue Action Heroes!
How many of you know that the word "cop" is actually an acronym for Community Oriented Policing? The term came about in the early Seventies in response to what people perceived as a lack of familiarity with the officer on the beat. Prior to the sixties, police officers walked their beats. They knew the people who lived and worked there and thus could often spot trouble before it happened. But as cities grew and manpower dwindled, the switch to roving patrol cars was made and the job became more about responding after the fact instead of stopping crime in the first place.
The COP program was put into effect to try to reverse some of the negativity that the public held for the police. It was about putting officers into the communities to strike at the very roots of crime, namely poverty, drugs, and juvenile delinquency. Trying to reach the youth of a city meant delivering role models the kids could count on and that meant recruiting young, hip officers. In a time when so many of those same men were being sent to fight the war in Vietnam, cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago were fighting a war of their own. The Rookies -- The Complete First Season introduced the television audience to the men who chose to fight in a different kind of army.
The Rookies is about three young police officers who are just starting out as beat cops in Los Angeles. Terry Webster (Georg Stanford Brown, Roots) is a black man from the inner city whoâs hoping he can use his experience to help young men like him get out of the trap. His roommate is naïve, idealistic Willy Gillis (Michael Ontkean, Twin Peaks). Rounding out the group is slightly older ex-military man Mike Danko (Sam Melville). Mike is married to Jill (Kate Jackson, Charlie's Angels), a nurse, which makes for plenty of scenes played out in the local hospital with her in attendance. Rounding out the regular cast is perfectly cast Gerald S. O'Laughlin as their tough but understanding superior, Lt. Eddie Ryker.
This DVD includes all 23 episodes from the first season:
* "Concrete Valley, Neon Sky"
* "Dead, Like a Lost Dream"
* "The Informant"
* "The Commitment"
* "Covenant with Death"
* "Time is the Fire"
* "The Bear That Didn't Get Up"
* "Dirge for Sunday"
* "The Good Die Young"
* "To Taste of Terror"
* "A Deadly Velocity"
* "A Bloody Shade of Blue"
* "A Very Special Piece of Ground"
* "Rabits on the Runway"
* "Tarnished Idol"
* "Snow Job"
* "Point of Impact"
* "Three Hours to Kill"
* "The Wheel of Death"
* "Life Robbery"
* "A Farewell Tree from Marly"
* "Easy Money"
The Rookies is another one of those shows I adored as a kid. I had a little crush on Michael Ontkean and I desperately wanted to be Kate Jackson when I grew up, so there was the double draw. The other thing that drew me in was the theme of this show -- that is, that one man can make a difference. Unlike many other cop shows, The Rookies was more about the life of a cop than it was about the crimes they investigated; that's what makes it truly interesting.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how well this series held up, even though it was based in an era where the world was drastically changing. Maybe that's because we've come back around to those times with the war and our views of the cop on the beat. Ironically, even the clothing on the men in this series is totally back in fashion, unlike shows from the '80s where the clothes distract from the show itself.
What did surprise me was how much of the show revolved around Georg Sanford Brown's character Terry in the early episodes. The issue of Terry as a young black cop figures prominently and is the catalyst for a very thought-provoking moment in "Dead, Like a Lost Dream." In the episode Terry points out rather vividly that white cops are never described as being white, but African-American cops are always described as being black.
There are quite a few social and cultural storylines laid out here mixed in with the typical cop plots of the era. Terry must decide whether to side with an old friend or with his fellow officers when one is accused of abusing a suspect. Willie must face an inquest for killing an unarmed suspect. Terry falls for a beautiful woman whose brother is involved in a crime spree.
Because the series is more about the rookie officers and less about the crimes, there are a number of personal jeopardy episodes. Willie is shot and parlayed. Terry is shot and blinded. Mike is taken hostage by an assassin. Jill is stalked. These personal episodes might be a bit of a bore, except for the fact that the lead characters are all so likeable. They're all very natural and believable, and they're not played as superheroes but as vulnerable beginners who still make mistakes. That's what makes the series so watchable.
I only have two issues with this DVD set. The first is the lack of extras. Not a big deal, but we've come to expect it on even older shows such as this.
Second, I had some freezing issues -- surprising since these aren't double-sided DVDs. Other than that, the shows look and sound terrific.
Oh, and can I just laugh about how they put Kate Jackson front and center on the box art as if she were the star!
The Rookies has more in common with modern police shows than it does with those of the '70s and '80s. It's a very character-driven show with refreshing, believable actors. You won't find the glitter and glam of Charlie's Angels, nor the grandstanding of TJ Hooker, two other shows from the Spelling/Goldberg hall of fame. The Rookies gives you a real look at what it's like the first time a young man puts on that uniform.
This court finds The Rookies -- The Complete First Season to be a little green, but with the guidance of their superior officer and the support of their family and friends, we're sure it will turn out to be a fine DVD.
Review content copyright © 2007 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 1174 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* The Rookies Fan Site