Tag Archive for: The Rookie

Melanie Atkins

I enjoyed this week’s episode of The Rookie more than I did the one that aired two weeks ago (no episode last week because of election coverage). The show’s fast pace and the idea of the rookies switching training officers (TOs) to help them gain a new perspective during training grabbed me. But one major problem still stood out: West froze under fire—again—and this time, his new TO, Tim Bradford, swept it under the rug to spare West’s first TO, Angela Lopez, from coming under fire for letting it go the first time.

What? My head is spinning, too. Because like Lee said, West should have been canned the first time he froze and failed to help his partner. I can’t believe that stoic Bradford, of all people, would let West off the hook. West did partially-redeem himself later by hitting a guy with his car before he could shoot Bradford, but he still didn’t prove himself capable of using his firearm—and that bothered me. Because yes, this is a TV show, but it’s still ridiculous.

On another note, John and Lucy both realized their feelings for each other have deepened, although neither of them ever said the words, I love you. Their admissions came as no surprise to me, and yet Lucy did shock me when she admitted the depth of her feelings for John to Angela Bishop, her new TO. Bishop, of course, already knew about their relationship and had warned Lucy about the possibility of her entanglement with John harming her career. Lucy again blows off Bishop’s warning. Or does she?

While Lucy is ruminating about her feelings for John, his new TO, Lopez, picks up the chemistry between him and Lucy and warns John about the possibility of the relationship hurting Lucy’s career. So, to my great irritation, he breaks up with her—even though he’s secretly fallen in love with her. The very idea made my heart ache, especially when Lucy tells John that she was about to break up with him, too, before he said anything. But I don’t believe it. I think she was about to confess her love for him, and now he’s dashed her hopes in his gallant attempt to save her career. Is that clear as mud? Sigh.

All in all, I liked this episode. But I’m not happy with the relationship situation. Will have to wait and see what happens next week. Will John and Lucy still gravitate toward one another despite their breakup? Or will they be able to keep their distance?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Lee Lofland

I still see this show as one that makes a super intense effort to mold and shape the featured TV cops into the images the writer(s) believe a police officer should be, not as total reality.

It’s as if the show’s goal is to check the boxes of some sort of “I’d like to see this in real life” list. To me, that’s what makes the scenarios and dialog come across as canned and unrealistic, even for a fictional television show.

I have the impression that the show’s creator had a mission when coming up with the premise of the series. Sure, number one, I’m sure, was making money and hoping to do by by capitalizing on Nathan’s Fillion’s huge success with the show Castle. But number two was to deliver a message based on the creator/producer’s personal beliefs. I may be wrong about this, but time will tell. If the show lasts long enough to see the point proven, or not..

The Rookie follows a boilerplate script—which is fine when it works. However …

My friend Hallie Ephron wrote a fantastic book she titled Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel. This book should have a permanent home beside the computer of every  author of mystery, thriller, and suspense stories. It’s a detailed “how-to” book that’s a perfect guide for helping a writer learn all the steps needed for everything from laying a story’s foundation all the way to handing your work over to an agent or editor.

In Hallie’s book, she explains how mysteries are separated into three acts, and within each act the stakes facing the characters rise, which creates tension (a witness is kidnapped, etc.). Along his/her journey, the hero of the story encounters major plot twists with some of those twists changing the direction of the tale. Some may take the hero back to “square one” as Ephron stated in a lesson she once taught for Mystery Writers of America.

In the end or near the conclusion of the last act, Hallie wrote in chapter eight of her book, “there’s a slam-bang dramatic finale in which the sleuth is in jeopardy and the truth revealed.”

The storyline of The Rookie closely follows the plan outlined Hallie Ephron’s book, and that’s good thing. However, having a blueprint only works if the characters come across as living and breathing actual human beings in a believable setting within a believable world.

Believability is an issue with “The Rookie”

Each of the three featured rookies has their own personal demons/hurdles to overcome, and those obstacles are part of the basic recipe for creating tension within a story. Such is the case when utilizing villains and antagonists to help deliver the peaks and valleys in a storyline.

Villains are used to create tension in a story. They also provide much-needed hurdles for the hero to overcome during his journey.

Unlike antagonists, villains are sociopathic, narcissistic, and can be quite unpredictable. And they often use fear to get their way.

By the way, an antagonist is someone who merely opposes the hero and typically and simply makes waves for the hero. Villains, on the other hand, are the bad guys of our stories who are devoted to wickedness. They have specific goals and will stop at nothing to reach them.

Sure, some points in this show are accurate, but their delivery seems forced and not believable. In shows like Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Voyager, the worlds we saw on the screen there couldn’t have been further from reality. But my friend Lisa Klink, who wrote those series, made us believe in the settings and in the characters. By the way, Lisa was a featured speaker at a recent Writers’ Police Academy.

In Fillion’s former show, Castle, the actors seemed natural (with the exception of the medical examiner who shall remain nameless—Lanie) in spite of some of the goofy writing and far our forensics. The reason things seemed realistic, for the most part, was due to the actors delivering their lines in a manner that allowed us to believe that what we were seeing could actually take place.

As Melanie mentioned above, rookie officer West should be standing in line at the unemployment office. After freezing twice when faced with incoming gunfire, he has no business wearing a police uniform. The second occurrence would not happen in real life because he’d have been sent on his merry way after the first time. No one could ever, not in a million years years, be able to trust him to do the right thing in violent situations. So, to help out …

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Finally, I’ll end my ramblings with a quote from the show, one of the many bits of “info dump” we hear each week. This one is very true.

“The only rookie who makes it through are the ones who take the job so serious that they put everything else aside.” ~ Training Officer Angela Bishop


Since the holiday season is nearly here, I’ve decided to feature a few fun items for your mystery shopping needs and wants. I’ll post these regularly throughout the remaining weeks of 2018.

So, especially for those of you who’re shopping for writer friends who enjoy a bit of research and/or relaxation, here are my picks for the day. By the way, someone asked why I post all Amazon links for the books I recommend. The answer is that they work well for and with this site, but by all means feel free to purchase books anywhere you like. But why not here by simply clicking the links I provide?

First up, Hallie Ephron’s book Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel.

This week, The Rookie failed to dazzle me. Parts of it amused me, sure. But I didn’t love the episode like I did the first two. I’m sure Lee will point out the plethora of procedural mistakes—if he has the time or space, because there were so many. I’m certainly not a law enforcement professional, but my ten years of WPA attendance has taught me that Tim—Lucy’s TO—would not have challenged that biker to a fight in real life.

Yeah, Tim came back to work too soon after being shot, but having him pick a fight on duty in order to “prove himself” was just too far out there, IMHO. His wife, a drug-addicted ex-cop, had just popped back up in his life before he got shot—and he obviously has a type A personality—but that’s no excuse for the writers to make him look stupid. In real life, he’d probably be out on his aching butt after pulling a stunt like that.

John and Lucy are still seeing each other despite Angela’s warning to Lucy, telling me they must truly care about each other. But they’re doing a poor job of hiding their relationship, especially from West, their fellow rookie. I predict that everyone will know pretty soon, and they’ll have to make a tough decision. Sigh. So predictable.

Much of the plot centered around the three rookies—and the other cops, when they first started out—having a plan B in case their plan A career plan in law enforcement went south. John Nolan (Nathan Fillion), of course, is on plan D in his life, because he’s the oldest rookie in the history of the LAPD and has already reinvented himself multiple times. His bid at being a cop is only his latest venture. West, on the other hand, only has one plan: to be a cop like his father. Whether he’ll succeed or not is still up in the air.

The verdict isn’t in on Nolan, either. He assumed that a former military helicopter pilot they were after had stolen a hospital’s medivac copter and fled, only to have the woman come out of hiding and press a gun to his neck. His fast talking made her pause long enough for Angela to taze her, but in real life she probably would have shot Nolan.

The procedural mistakes sidetracked me this week, but I will continue watching to see if the writers ever get a clue—and if one of the three rookies washes out. My guess is that none of them will—especially not Nolan, because Fillion is the star of the show.

We’ll see what happens next week. 🙂

Lee Lofland

I’m liking the show less with the passing of each episode. I grew weary of the sergeant’s contact badgering of Nolan during week one, so to have this constant piling on is way up there on the list of things that annoy me—nails on a chalkboard, bamboo beneath the fingernails, and people who clip their toenails while onboard jet airliners at 33,000 feet. And the sound of a dentist’s drill.

Come on, Alexi Hawley, you can do better than to deliver a constant barrage of stale insults about growing older. As a result of the age-battering and cliché-tossing, perhaps a better title for this week’s episode would’ve been “The Not-So-Good, the Pretty Bad, and the Ugly, Ugly Writing.”

I get it, the show, and Nolan, needs conflict. That’s Writing 101. But real-life cops have enough drama and potential injury to their flesh and bone without intentionally wading into the midst of a mass of brawling outlaw bikers all while calling out one of the mean and nasty dudes who’s in the process of “earning his patch.” This was, as were several of the mini scenarios were saw this week, totally unbelievable.

I’m not sure why Alexi Hawley decided to write this show as he has, but for me it’s simply not working. He said early on, though, “We try to approach it from how we think cops should act in these situations.” I suppose this is the reason why the show rings so untrue and is practically unwatchable for me, because it’s coming across as how the writer, someone not involved in law enforcement, believes police officers truly behave and how they should perform their duties instead of how they’d react and perform in the real world.

This sort of thinking and writing is what sets this show so far from center of other more believable shows, such as Southland. I know, “The Rookie” is not meant to be an accurate portrayal of police work. It’s meant as entertainment. But in this day and time, many people fall for television hook, line, and sinker, believing what they see is the real deal. Therefore, a good portion of a TV audience will think officers pick fights with members of the public, act in a totally unsafe manner, disobey the rules as regular practice, etc.

They could at least have the officers wear protective vests beneath their uniform shirts.

Anyway, Melanie’s right, there were so many procedural wrongs this week that I’m not going to begin to try to point them out. In fact, the number of eye-rolling and glaring goofball things written into a single episode was way over the top.

One tactic mentioned during the briefing by the SWAT commander, however, was an actual police procedure (I know, something “real” was a surprise). He mentioned using a tactic called “Break and Rake.”

For those of you who don’t know, Break and Rake/Rake and Break is sometimes used during dynamic entries of buildings where the the danger level is high, such as was the case in this episode where they believed armed suspects were hiding out in the place to be searched.

Break-and-Rakes typically utilize teams of two or three SWAT members each, who break windows to distract the people inside the target house. Once the glass is broken and raked away the officers then point their rifles inside to provide cover for the entry team.

While “hitting” the front door a secondary team will also break through a second entrance. However, they typically stay put and hold the doorway safe and secure to prevent occupants from escaping and to guard against intruders who could come inside to engage the officers. Also, if the second entry team were to move further inside they’d run the risk of crossfire with the first entry team who’d breached the front door.

Entry teams may also use flash-bang grenades to further distract the bad guys.

Example of the devices police could/would use as breaching tools are:

Gerber Downrange Tomahawk [30-000715]

These devices/tools are actually perfect for motorists to store in the trunks of their cars, and for truckers. They also come in handy around the home for chopping branches, nail removal, as pry bars, and more. It’s not too late to order your Christmas gifts! 🙂

Trucker’s Friend Demolition & Multitool

Professional Fire & Rescue Tool

I’m surprised at the writing of “The Rookie,” because Hawley wrote some of the better “Castle” episodes. In fact, he pulled the show out of more than one ridiculous storyline funk. But now, for some reason, he’s opted to go the goofy route.

However, I fear that the goofy is not intentional and that it could be the way Hawley believes police officers should and do behave. That this show is his opinion of the good and brave men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe is a bit troubling, especially if that’s a sign of how others believe officers should carry out their duties. If so, well, that’s nothing short of scary and disturbing. I say this because several “goofy” things we’ve seen on this show would land a real-life police officer in a pine box six-feet underground while a bagpiper serenades the surviving family members.

Again, in Hawley’s own words … “how we think cops should act in these situations.”

Yeah, that’s truly bad, and ugly. Good … not so much.

Episode Two is now in the books and Melanie Atkins and I are polar opposites this week regarding our opinions of the show. Here, see for yourselves, starting with Melanie’s portion of the review …

Melanie Atkins

The second episode of The Rookie zoomed along just as quickly as the pilot did. The show started with a car chase to ramp up our adrenaline and didn’t stop until the credits rolled. One thing I noticed? John Nolan should have attend the Writers’ Police Academy last summer so he could learn how to do a pit maneuver. (Insert wide grin here.) He finally managed it, but it took him a while—and he damaged several other vehicles along the way. The bride popping out of the car made me laugh, as did her hanging from the Hollywood sign, as improbably as that was. What a hoot. John Nolan is our hero.

But unfortunately, he’s still tangled up with Lucy, who has yet to tell him that Bishop, his training officer, knows about their relationship and has advised her to end it. All I can say is that she must have strong feelings for him, since she hasn’t told him. I just hope they don’t crash and burn or get anybody killed because they’re protecting each other on the street.

The show motored on an addled meth addict, a guy high on PCP West coaxes out of a church with the promise of water, and Lucy’s dilemma of working with an overly-cautious temporary TO. All the while, John struggles to put aside his old-life instincts, as Bishop calls them, and think like a cop. The three rookies are learning on the job, and sometimes it’s not fun. Repercussions abound for their training officers as well, because they’re ultimately responsible for their rookies’ success or failure, which has an effect on the public-at-large.

I’m enjoying this show very much. Can’t wait to find out what happens to our trio of trainees next week. As Bishop put it, “It’s all about making split decisions in chaos.”

I love it.

Lee Lofland

Me, well, I found that watching the show was nearly as painful as I imagine it would be to have sewing needles shoved into my eyes. I thought the scenes, from start to finish, were extremely clumsy and were punctuated with awkward dialog.

It’s almost as if the writers worked overtime researching police procedure so they could appear as “one of folks in blue” by injecting every single fact they’d found into a single episode. By doing so the entire show seemed extremely forced—a classroom setting—because they did the very thing writers are taught to not do—tell not show. Imagine reading this episode in book form. It would come across as a text book—Cop Stuff 101.

And I still cannot separate Richard Castle from Officer John Nolan. For me, it’s as if Beckett dumped him so he ran off to L.A. to lick his wounds. I see no differences between the two characters.

Actually, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand years, so I’ll let this one describe how I saw Fillion’s character this week.

But some decent facts were there so I’ll point those out so you’ll know what you saw was fact, not fiction, or the reverse. And yes, I wholeheartedly understand this is a fictional television show. Yes, I know people don’t watch fictional shows to see real police procedure. Yes, I understand that no matter how many times I point out that my portion of this interview is solely to help writers know the rights and wrongs about the police procedure seen on this show, someone somewhere will complain, saying I’m an evil ogre because they watch for enjoyment not as an educational experience.

I’ll say this once again for those in the latter category, please know that I write my portion of this review at the request of writers who do indeed want to know if what they’ve seen on the show is real. If not, they’ve requested this information so that won’t make the same mistakes in their own writing. Here goes …

  • Melanie’s absolutely correct. Castle Nolan should’ve attended the Writers’ Police Academy prior to attempting the PIT maneuver. The one we saw performed on the show was not even close to proper.

Here’s author Tami Hoag correctly performing a PIT at the Writers’ Police Academy. She’s driving the car in the rear. An instructor was driving the “suspect’s car,” the one with the light bar on top. A certified police instructor was also seated beside Tami.

  • Nolan’s TO said, “The job is about doing things counter to human nature.” The PIT maneuver is a perfect example because we, as drivers on public roadways, try to avoid crashing into other cars. We’re taught to drive defensively. We know that colliding with other vehicles could be harmful to our bodies. We could die. So to purposely use your car to torpedo into another automobile is absolutely counter to human nature. Cops are often trained to do things that are against the grain.
  • Officer West is confused about his fear of returning gunfire during a shootout since he’d been around guns all his life, so his TO tells him, “It’s different when they (the targets) are shooting back at you.” I wholeheartedly agree. There’s no other feeling that compares to having someone pointing a firearm in your direction, sending bullets zinging by your head at over 1,000 feet per second. It’s pucker factor times ten.
  • The fact that West did indeed miserably fail to respond appropriately during a shootout (he cowered behind the patrol car and wouldn’t return fire) while working in a probationary status, the time when things like this arise and are evaluated, should’ve been cause to send him home for good. But, unrealistically, the writers allowed him stay, which caused his TO to say, “I don’t want to spend every call wondering if you’re going to freeze up again.” She’s correct and that thought would always be on her mind … forever. As it would for every officer who knew about the incident. They’d more than likely fear that he’d not be there for them during sticky situations that involved gunfire.

The fact that he talked the PCP-using Incredible Hulk guy into wearing handcuffs is not even close to showing and/or knowing how he’d react during another shooting situation. The toughest and most fearless fighter in the world may be scared of gunfire. I’ve never been one to back away from gunfire, knives, and fistfights, not once, but I don’t like spiders and snakes. Apples and oranges.

  • Arresting the meth-using-woman, the situation where she complained to the cops that she’d been ripped off during a drug deal. Yeah, that happens more often than you’d think. People can be that dumb. Sadly, though, some are mentally ill as was this woman, I believe. Evidence of this was that she’d stabbed and killed a guy and nonchlantly told Nolan and his TO that she’d done so. Again, happens all the time.
  • The scene where the rookies are booking/processing the folks they arrested. Could be any night during any booking process anywhere in the country. Every officer has been there, done that.
  • We saw Officer West use a chokehold to subdue a violent man who was hellbent on beating West to a mangled pulp. Was the tactic legal? Of course it was. This was a deadly force situation where there was a clear and obvious threat of serious bodily harm or death. Using his firearm, had he been able to get to it would also have been an option. But … was he scared to shoot, the reason he opted for the chokehold? See, I’d have that in the back of my mind.
  • As a cop, Nolan is a screwup. He’s dangerous. A loose cannon. He rushed into a house after a shotgun-wielding subject, leaving his TO behind and locked out of the home. This was a time to call for backup or at least wait for his TO/partner. Then, when he did locate the captive victim he turned his back, knowing the suspect had to be in the house. A dead cop cannot help anyone. Clear the threat first.
  • It’s interesting that they showed Castle-Nolan punching a guy since I was quoted in an ABC news article just this week about that very topic. Blows to the head are not permitted unless in a deadly force situation. This was not one of those situations.

Again, in the list of many instructional “tell, not show” talking points offered to us this week, Nolan’s TO said, “Overcoming the impulse to punish may be the hardest part of the job.”

So true. It’s difficult to not administer a bit of “street justice” to the guy who lobbed a few rounds at your head. But cops absolutely must keep emotions in check—to go against the grain of human nature.

You know, roll with the punches, not deliver them.