For seven seasons on ABC, Nathan Fillion played Richard Castle, a best selling mystery writer who teams up with NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) to solve crimes. In ABC’s new series, Fillion actually gets to join the force. Fillion is The Rookie, a 40-something John Nolan who moves to Los Angeles to become a cop. Whether he’s chasing a lifetime dream or suffering a midlife crisis is what those around him keep asking. The question is more than idle curiosity. A cop who is less than committed is a danger, not only to himself, but also to his fellow police officers and the public.
The pilot opens with Nolan, fresh from a divorce, going into a bank in small town Pennsylvania. When armed robbers storm the bank, Nolan’s instincts kick in. He attracts the attention of one of the masked men so that a bank employee can hit the alarm button. When the cops show up, Nolan’s a hero. Is this the sign Nolan’s been looking for? It’s enough to shake him out of his lethargy.
Afton Williamson, Eric Winter, and Melissa O’Neil
Nolan is one of three rookies assigned to a Los Angeles precinct that sees plenty of action. Sergeant Wade Grey (Richard T. Jones), a take no prisoners type, has it in for Nolan, although what’s behind that animosity is unclear in the pilot. Nolan has an equally tough time winning over his immediate supervisor, Police Officer Talia Bishop (Afton Williamson), who has her sights on becoming police chief. Nolan’s first day involves breaking up a domestic dispute and collaring a career criminal. One goes south, the other earns him the respect of his fellow officers. But one day does not a career make and it’s clear Nolan will be tested again and again.
Complicating matters is the affair Nolan is having with another rookie, Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neil), who is just as ambitious as Nolan. Being a woman on the force is nearly as tough as being an aging white guy, but if their relationship comes to light, Chen stands to lose more.
Chen’s partner, Tim Bradford, is played by Eric Winter, whose long list of TV credits includes CBS’s The Mentalist and Lifetime’s Witches of East End. Like Nolan, Bradford is in his 40s, but with nearly two decades of service as an LAPD cop. He’s a tough mentor, but Chen soon discovers his personal life is a mess, his wife a drug addict living on the streets.
Police shows do well on television, witness the success of everything Dick Wolf has produced. The Rookie has come up with an interesting premise, a middle aged guy trying to reinvent himself. No one plays that role better than Fillion.
The Rookie premieres Tuesday, October 14, 2018, on ABC.
Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless