Enuka Okuma and Noam Jenkins in "Rookie Blue." (Annabel Reyes / ABC )
"Rookie Blue" is, to be quick about it, "Grey's Anatomy" with uniforms and guns. That you probably will find that comparison in every review you read of the series, which begins tonight on ABC — in the "Grey's Anatomy," slot — is nothing I can do anything about. But there is no way I can leave it out of this one.
I don't say this to warn you off — indeed, it may be just the hook that snares you — only to tell you where we are. We are with pretty young people (two male, three female, as per "Grey's") starting a new job they have studied for and dreamed about. They are eager to get started, to get into the thick of it; but not everybody gets to work in the operating room — drive around in patrol cars, I mean. Yet they also serve who only work the desk and argue over whether the boy rookie or the girl rookie should be the one to frisk a transsexual suspect.
"We've learned how to shoot and fight and drive a police car really fast," says academy-fresh Andy McNally ( Missy Peregrym). "We're ready." And if they're not really ready, as the grumpy older cops insist, they'll "fake it till we make it."
More problematic than the dyspeptic veterans may be the hot young detectives, who are to the rookies of "Rookie Blue" as the doctors are to the interns of "Grey's Anatomy." They all hang around in the same bar at the end of the day. Moody pop songs follow them on the soundtrack.
None of the pretty people is prettier than Peregrym, from the late and, by me, lamented, "Reaper," in the Ellen Pompeo part, though she is more wide-eyed and less obviously troubled than Pompeo's Meredith Grey. (Her father, we learn, was a policeman too, which makes her naiveté about the job seem a little ... naive.) But Peregrym is not just a pretty face; she's a good and appealing actress who can play more than one emotion at a time. And though I would never have expected her to be at the center of a police series, this is made to be a warmer police series than most — a cop show with a woman's touch, about the adventure of becoming, of growing up, even more than it is about putting perps in the pokey.
The unnamed city in which they work and may even find some time to play is possibly not supposed to be Toronto, but Toronto is where it's made. Like "Flashpoint," CBS's own summer cop show (for which "Rookie" show-runner Tassie Cameron also wrote), it is a Canadian co-production, with a Canadian cast. (Peregrym grew up in British Columbia.)
While making no extravagant claims for the series — it is not, you may have gathered, alarmingly original — I rather enjoyed the pilot. Perhaps it's a Canadian thing, but like "Flashpoint," "Rookie Blue" doesn't oversell itself. It is modest and plain in a way that makes even its less likely moments feel credible enough. And its 13-episode order is just the size of summer.