THE SERIES “The Rookie”
WHEN | WHERE Premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. on ABC/7
WHAT IT'S ABOUT John Nolan (Nathan Fillion) is a divorcee down on his luck and life, when he foils a bank robber and suddenly discovers a new path forward — as a rookie cop on the second largest police force in the nation, the LAPD. As a "boot" he's significantly older (40) than the other boots joining the force on the first day, including Angela Lopez (Alyssa Diaz) and Jackson West (Titus Makin Jr.). But his passion and smarts just might make up for that age difference, if he can get past Sgt. Wade Grey (Richard T. Jones) who doesn't want him there, or the gauntlet of tough veterans like Tim Bradford (Eric Winter) or his new partner Talia Bishop (Afton Williamson) who wonder why he's here, and whether he should be.
MY SAY Why is Nathan Fillion so likable, with "The Rookie" as the latest evidence? If you know someone who disputes this assessment, press them on the matter and it will probably turn out they don't even know who or what a "Nathan Fillion" is.
For their benefit, here's a quick primer: A journeyman from the great frozen reaches of Canada (Calgary), he's a solid actor with good comic timing and a certain ironic detachment he brings to his serious roles. He's been in a few bad shows, a couple of classics ("Firefly," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and one series with so much staying power that it threatened to stick around long after the networks themselves had gone extinct ("Castle"). Through it all and through all of them, that likability has endured.
His new series — surprise! — offers nothing to repudiate this but goes one better by surrounding him with a likeable cast which includes another journeyman, Jones, who gets the best lines and delivers them like he means them: "I hate what you represent," he sneers, while devouring Nolan in one gulp. "You represent a walking midlife crisis. The LAPD is not the place for you to 'find yourself.' If you succeed, my house will be flooded with middle-aged losers looking for some kind of eat pray love path to reinvention, and that will get my people killed."
Sure, the pilot is overburdened with a heaping helping of dramatic license while an awful lot of bad stuff seems to happen to Nolan on his first day. A word man (or wordy one) as much as a man of action, he confronts a bad guy with this tidy little speech: "We are in this moment together. I became a cop to help people, not kill them. But if you hurt her, I will pull this trigger and you will die."
If anyone but Fillion tossed out a line so smothered in schmaltz, you'd either laugh or groan. But Mr. Likable nails it and largely nails this comfy, corny and (yup) likable pilot, too.
BOTTOM LINE Fillion's back in a decent cop drama that fits him like a bespoke suit.