"Rookie Blue" premieres on the ABC Television Network May 24,...

"Rookie Blue" premieres on the ABC Television Network May 24, 2012. Credit: ABC

The Toronto-area building could be any industrial business, given its outward appearance.

On the inside, though, the first floor houses an ultramodern police station . . . even if it's only for dramatic purposes.

The site is the production base of "Rookie Blue," the Canadian-made series that launches its third ABC season Thursday night at 10. Though the new round opens with a big-name guest star -- Montreal native William Shatner as a drunken driver with an inherent dislike of the police -- the focus of the show remains on the young cops who certainly know more than when they began the job but still have a lot to learn.

Surely that's true for Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym), who ended the second season suspended from the force. The reason: her decision to pursue a long-percolating romance with Sam Swarek (Ben Bass), her former training officer, which ended up endangering his life during an undercover assignment and brought him a forced leave of absence as well.

"Andy is not allowed to see Sam, so even though they had plans to get together, she left town," Peregrym explains on the set of the Entertainment One-

produced show. "He gets back to the job sooner than she does, because he has seniority, so the season opens with her somewhere else.

"Then she comes back thinking, 'I'm going to get my job back, I'm going to get my guy back' -- but he's genuinely upset, because he didn't think that after everything they'd been through, it was really necessary that she left. Meanwhile, she thinks she made the right decision. I guess the theme of this season is, 'Be careful what you wish for.' "

That's echoed by "Rookie Blue" co-creator and executive producer Tassie Cameron, who says, "Finally, Andy McNally gets everything she wants, and what's that going to look like? It's not just Andy, but all the rookies, who want to be real cops.

"I wouldn't say we're trying to explore that in a darker way, but in a very realistic way. It's not the first day on the job anymore, so this is what it means to be a cop with all the sad, heartbreaking things that can happen."

Personal plights also affect fellow rookies Dov Epstein (Gregory Smith), Gail Peck (Charlotte Sullivan) and Chris Diaz (Travis Milne); they're joined this season by a new peer, Nick Collins (Peter Mooney), an ex-soldier who has a past with Gail. And the challenges are somewhat different for Traci Nash (Enuka Okuma), who's now a plainclothes detective.

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