Canadian imports, especially ‘Rookie Blue,’ are keeping summers free of repeat TV

By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Observer Correspondent

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a fan of good television. And you’re more than aware that for years, TV series stopped in the summer months — and were always marked by the shows you saw all winter long in repeats.

But thanks to several Canadian imports — most notably, “Rookie Blue,” – the summer months on network TV are no longer just repeats. In fact, in the case of “Rookie Blue,” the summer months offer some of the best TV of the entire year.

Most don’t even realize just how active the Canadian television show market is. In addition to “Rookie,” Canada also offers us the second-year cop drama “Motive,” which is wildly popular north of the border and here in the U.S. (But we’ll save “Motive” for another review.)

“Rookie Blue” is in the middle of its fifth season on ABC here in the States, and is a production of GlobalTV in Canada.

While it’s never mentioned specifically, “Rookie” is a police drama set in Toronto, Ontario. Initially, it followed the lives of four wide-eyed newbie cops in their initial assignment to the 15 Division, the department’s elite squad.

Viewers are taken through what a new police officer goes through as a rookie — the good, the bad and the very, very bad. We’re with them as they succeed — and we’re with them when they make mistakes that, in some cases, could lead to lives being lost.

What separates “Rookie Blue” from other cop dramas is that rarely, if ever, do the show’s writers venture into the absurd. But with that said, they’re also unafraid to tackle taboo topics, including sexual assaults, cops gone rogue and gang activity.

Officers Gail Peck (Charlotte Sullivan), Dov Epstein (Gregory Smith) and Oliver Shaw (Matt Gordon).

Officers Gail Peck (Charlotte Sullivan), Dov Epstein (Gregory Smith) and Oliver Shaw (Matt Gordon).


Of course, it appears there are more homicides in the fictional Toronto department than there really are in real-life Toronto. But that hardly takes away from the show’s efficacy.

And while there are moments that get soap-operaish — there are a lot of love stories among the officers on the job — the greater focus is on policing and crime. And that adds to the show’s greatness.

As the seasons have progressed, so, too, have the characters. They’re gone from rookies who think they know everything to tremendously improved cops who are more than aware of what goes on in the mean streets of Toronto.

The writing in the show is brilliant — and because the show is actually filmed on the streets of Toronto, and not in a fabricated city on a studio lot, there are a lot of identifiable spots throughout the show’s run — especially if you’re a fan of the City of Toronto in the first place.

Even if you’re tired of police drama — there certainly are enough of them on TV as is it is, aren’t there? — “Rookie Blue” is not one of them that will cause the viewer to say this one’s just another typical cop drama.

Because it’s not — and if you give it a chance, you’ll likely find that a drama does not have to originate from Hollywood or Manhattan for it to be superb.

In this case, a show originating from Toronto does quite the trick — and then some.

The Observer Staff