Judge Patrick Bromley wonders if Andy McNally is related to Rand McNally.
Our review of Rookie Blue: The Complete First Season, published May 31st, 2011, is also available.
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?
Facts of the Case
Here are the 13 episodes that make up Rookie Blue: The Complete Second Season:
"Might Have Been"
"Bad Moon Rising"
"Heart & Sparks"
"In Plain View"
"The One That Got Away"
"Best Laid Plans"
"A Little Faith"
"On the Double"
"God's Good Grace"
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?
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Studio: E1 Entertainment
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