The Rookies – The Complete Second Season

The Rookies – The Complete Second Season
There was no shortage of cop shows on television during the '70s, but it wasn't necessarily the best ones that stayed in the public eye. That's why the likes of Charlie's Angels, Starsky & Hutch and Hawaii Five-O have persisted while The Rookies has been largely forgotten. It ran on ABC for four seasons between 1972 and 1976 and followed the lives of three rookie police officers, played by Michael Ontkean, Sam Melville and Georg Stanford Brown, along with a nurse played by Kate Jackson, married to Melville's character. It tried to portray the police in a more accurate way, with both the positive and negative sides of the job appearing onscreen. While the plots follow the standard formula of a crime being committed, followed by the investigation and then everything ending tidily within the one-hour running time, the show stood out for a couple of reasons. First of all, it spent almost as much time on the rookies' lives outside of the station, which helped to make the main characters less one-dimensional. It also featured a surprisingly realistic depiction of violence, with more blood than was typical at the time, and that helped to make it stand out, although sometimes for the wrong reasons. The wealth of familiar faces is another reason to watch The Rookies ― both Nick Nolte and Don Johnson show up in "The Teacher" as members of a gang involved in a series of armed robberies, and other future and past stars scattered throughout the 23 episodes include John Travolta, Leif Erickson, Sissy Spacek, Jim Nabors, Abe Vigoda and Tyne Daly. That doesn't mean these are their best performances, but spotting them almost makes up for the complete lack of special features. While held in high regard at the time, The Rookies hasn't dated particularly well. It's well made with a certain amount of grittiness that helps compensate for the generic plot, but there's a bit too much of the obvious message episodes where someone makes a climactic speech that takes any subtlety out of the show. The Rookies is a pleasant enough diversion, but this second season lacks the meat that some other shows of the era, like Police Story, possessed. This isn't essential viewing by any means, but is entertaining in small doses. (Shout! Factory)