For the fresh meat, as Oliver Shaw called the new rookies in his precinct, their first day would be one they’d never forget. As new police officers, Andy McNally, Traci Nash and Chris Daiz could never have known just how unforgettable it would be.
The pilot of Rookie Blue, "Fresh Paint" started out innocently enough with all five of the new police officers arriving to work in different ways, likely symbolic of their character on the show. Let’s break down how they arrived because this was not a trivial moment of the show.
We start out by seeing Chris Diaz driving to work in a Jeep Wagoneer, likely from the late 80s. As we see later in the episode, Chris is an old school type of guy, one who tries to do things like the book. He’s excited and ambitious to begin his work as a police officer, but petrified of making a mistake.
Traci Nash already has her claws into one of the senior law enforcement guys, sulking low in his car to hide from Diaz as her man drops her off for work. My guess is that we’re going to see a few more incidents with Nash trying to hide a relationship or hook-up from her coworkers in some other awkward being-dropped-off-at-work moment. Despite drawing a gun on an eight-year-old child, she has the most successful day of the rookies.
As if Dov Epstein’s name wasn’t unique enough, he gets to work by…riding a bike? The environmentally friendly member of Rookie Blue is certain to be the most interesting character in the show and my guess is he’ll be the one to get in trouble because of his mouth the most. On his very first day he’s already mouthing off to his Staff Sergeant! Who has that kind of nerve on their first day?!?
The one newbie who’s first day arrival we didn’t get to see was Gail Peck, but plenty of her character was revealed in the opening rookie hazing scene at The Black Penny. Even though the rules clearly state that a rookie can do whatever they need to get out of their handcuffs, the other four still complain that Peck took advantage of another cop to get out. What this tells us is that Peck will do whatever (whoever?) she needs to get ahead. A clash between Peck’s self-preservation and McNally’s sense of righteousness seems likely.
The bulk of the pilot was based around a murder scene involving a dead drug dealer, a barely conscious young girl, a witness in violation of her parole and a likely young shooter. The scene provided us with a number of opportunities to learn about our new characters while also seeing some rudimentary activities that police officers, and usually rookies, have to perform.
Rookie Blue has touted itself as one that is not going to be strictly a procedural show, but one that delves into the characters relationships and emotions while starting a job as a police officer. It started very dramatically with a murder scene, but much of what we got to see the rookies do was more rudimentary police acts. Clear the building, interrogate a witness, deal with a child witness, make an arrest, or search a suspect.
If the show’s focus is about the characters, these are the scenes that we need more of. Through the regular, run of the mill police work we’ll get a better sense of the characters emotions and development. While McNally, Diaz and Nash were involved in the most action, the best scenes were with Peck and Epstein arguing over who gets to search a suspect. The most character revealing scene was Epstein mouthing off to Staff Sgt. Boyko.
The challenge that McNally and Nash faced was trying show some character and emotion in really tense scenes. The problem was, no one doubts that charging into a house where shots are fired is tense and scary. It’s scary for any police officer, rookie or veteran. The over acting that occurred during the beginning scenes with McNally and Nash detracted from the show because it wasn’t necessary at all.
What worked better was how Chris Diaz was introduced to the murder scene – after the action. While his lines were a bit over the top and slightly over acted, the nervousness and anxiety that comes with trying to secure a large crime scene on your first day was easier to understand. To a veteran police officer it is an easy task, something Diaz’s partner, Frank Best, makes sarcastically clear to him. However, we can all relate to how daunting simple tasks seem to us on our first day.
My hope is that Rookie Blue tries to keep it simple and develop the characters for this first season before getting them involved in more dramatic, action filled scenes. Let the rookies breath and grow normally rather than in unlikely forced action scenes such as hearing shots fired literally ten minutes into your first shift as a police officer.
What do you want to see from Rookie Blue? Let us know what you thought of the pilot and how you want to see the show progress.