The premise itself is relatively simple and requires no real past knowledge to get on board. Unit 15 is the elite unit of an unnamed Canadian metropolitan police force. The unit is led by Staff Sergeant Oliver Shaw (Gordon). Each episode begins with his roll call. Apparently in Canada it’s called parade. He does the usual job of giving out riding partners and assignments and providing the general “hot” information for the shift turn-out. The show focuses on a group of rookie cops assigned here. This is where it gets tricky. They are still pretty much referred to as rookies, but it’s the fifth season, and it’s clear they’ve been there more than a year by now. The episodes follow their day tour. This is pretty much “Grey’s Anatomy with guns”.
It’s an awkward show, to say the least. The police aspects of the show are actually above average. There’s obviously some good creative writing on this team, and each of the police stories was pretty interesting. The show manages to look fresh and the criminal stuff not quite so hashed out. If Rookie Blue wanted to be a straight police drama, it could be a very good one. Only I suspect it’s not what they really want to be. The only trouble with these good cop stories is they tend to get abbreviated so that we can get to the musical chairs of the romantic entanglements. That’s the audience Rookie Blue is really gunning for, and that’s where they lose me to a certain degree. Let’s just say there’s more kissing than cuffing going on here.
The production looks better than most of the Canadian shows I’ve seen over the years. The sets are pretty good, but the location scouts are the real heroes for this show. We get fresh-looking locations that add to the drama and realism of the series. These are places we haven’t seen to death on television. There’s also some rather unique architecture. It’s rather nice to see a Canadian city playing Canada instead of trying to double for an American location.
The actors are all pretty much on their game. I really don’t like some of these characters, but that’s not really bad acting, but irritating characters played maybe too well. Top of that list is Gail Peck (Sullivan). I just can’t understand why anyone would choose to spend five minutes with her. She hates people in general, which is sometimes understandable. Hey, people suck. But she’s the reason why. It was interesting to see Ben Bass again. He played the vampire Vachon on Forever Knight. Surprisingly he doesn’t appear to have aged in 20 years. I wonder… He plays newly promoted Detective Sam Swarek. The Andy character just reminds me of Meredith Grey too much. I suspect much of that is intentional. Her McNally character has more to do as a cop this year, and it has indeed expanded the character’s range. She gets to be a training officer for a coward, and that goes really bad. Maybe she’s finally breaking out of that constant frown-and-flirt mode. Price (Fala) is the more interesting. She talks a mile a minute and can be quite annoying, but there’s a puppy-dog look about her that can be quite endearing. She’s got a boyfriend and a husband, but hey, it’s all cool, apparently. I find Gregory Smith’s Dov to be the most grounded and realistic character on the series. He’s the only one there I might want to actually hang with. Diaz (Milne) has to deal with a drug problem that almost costs him his friendship with Dov and his job. He’s also on the wrong side of a debt with a drug dealer. That’s more the kind of story this show does excel at. Still, it’s these young, attractive and emotionally flawed characters that trend well these days. Angst sells, and you’ll get your fix here. Just not sure I want hormone-driven, emotionally stunted, horny rookies carrying guns in my neighborhood. Who am I kidding? They probably already do.
The season begins with a shooting and ends with an explosion both happening at the police house. Maybe they are trying to do more with the police angle. Maybe not. Of course, the real stories were in their love lives. Every character on the show either has a new relationship or a breakup of an old one. In most cases it’s both. I know some of you like that sort of thing, but I found it exhausting.
There were interesting cases to be found. When a pawn shop owner is killed, we have a witness who only talks in haiku. There’s a suggestion of corruption in the leadership of the force that is left wide open to explore next season. The most compelling is certainly the character of Duncan Moore (Murray), who comes in the son-in-law of the commissioner. He’s a hipster wannabe who is nothing but trouble.
There’s a pretty big Forever Knight connection going on here. I’ve already talked about Bass. Two other of the show’s main actors/characters show up in episodes this season. Nigel Bennett, who played the ultra-evil Lacroix, shows up as a witness, and Catherine Disher, who played medical examiner Natalie and Nick’s confidant, shows up as a hearing officer on McNally’s training officer situation.
It’s called season 5 vol. 1 but most references consider the next episodes season 6. The 11 episodes are spread over three discs. The final disc includes a few extras. You get webisodes that offer 3-4 minute glimpses of two characters at a stakeout talking. There’s a six-minute behind-the-scenes feature, and that about covers it. Much of the show plays out like a cop fairy tale. But we know by now that “Life is not a fairy tale”.