Nathan Fillion’s ‘The Rookie’ renewed: All the reasons to watch
Oh, Nathan Fillion, how we’ve missed thee! It’s been three years since you hung up your Richard-shaped boots as ABC’s Castle ended, and you left us all wondering what was next for the king of the geeks.
After eight years of channeling the swoonworthy character in the one-hour drama – not wanting to leave your fans hanging – you jumped swiftly into your next role as yet another charming, handsome, witty, and delightful lead character in the network’s new crime dramedy, The Rookie. The Rookie was on the bubble for a second season as ABC was deciding if Nathan Fillion’s rookie cop could hit the streets of L.A. again. Today we’re relieved to hear he’ll be back again next year.
Praised be the lord (Disney) that they’ve granted The Rookie a second season. While not a runaway success, its ratings have been strong-ish. However, if you read our coverage at all, you’ll understand that live viewership means very little in the days of streaming, catchup, and VOD. We’re betting that we dedicated Fillion fans jacked up those viewing figures after the premiere dates.
If you haven’t seen it already, The Rookie debuted in October 2018. Fillion the plays John Nolan, the oldest rookie on the LAPD force. Nolan decides to follow his joy and leave life in his small town behind, hauling ass to L.A. to join the force. Nolan’s a fish out of water surrounded by younger recruits, making him the butt of all the jokes. As Nolan traverses life challenges, he gains the respect of his colleagues and starts to live his bliss – or something.
The Rookie’s cast is rounded out by Dark Matter’s Melissa O’Neil, Eric Winter (Rosewood, Secrets & Lies), Afton Williamson (The Night Of, The Breaks) and Wisdom of the Crowd’s Richard T. Jones.
Let’s face it: the sight of Nathan Fillion performing high-octane stunts in a uniform and gun sling has done funny things to us. And like his previous characters, in The Rookie he’s forced to act quick in dicey situations, while his rather unwonted vocational circumstances make for humorous asides.
Here are all the reasons that, even though The Rookie is imperfect, we’re pumped the show is staying with us for another season.
The Rookie fills that Castle-shaped hole while bringing something fresh to the table
Fillion re-teamed with Castle executive producer Alexi Hawley to create The Rookie, and anyone who’s caught the first season will know they contain similar beats to the former show – in particular, Fillion’s character has a partner and they make for a cracking on-screen duo (more on this later).
That said, this is no Richard Castle and Kate Beckett, and as pointed out by Fillion himself, The Rookie is an entirely different dynamic. “I’ve played a lot of characters that have a lot of authority or disregard for authority and kind of do what they want anyway; this is not the case with Nolan.
“I find him to be a very honest and present guy. He’s thoughtful. I’ve played some kind of emotionally callus – they seem carefree, but actually they’re almost inconsiderate . . . . It’s nice to play a character who cares a little more.”
You can teach an old dog new tricks
Some have argued The Rookie relies a little too heavily on its age joke – soon into the show, Nolan’s described as a “walking mid-life crisis”. In its review, Deadline wrote: “The ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ premise is one that has been tackled by TV series and movies many times before, and The Rookie is thrown on the pile and easily can get lost in the shuffle.”
As the season progresses, we see a rounding out of the tired age jokes as Nolan gradually gains the respect of his colleagues. We can only imagine the midlife-crisis themes of the earlier episodes will lessen as the series grows.
Nolan and Bishop make a great team
Speaking of perfect partnerships, the back-and-forth between Nolan and his LAPD associate Talia Bishop is comedic gold – she’s spiky and ambitious, but viewers know there’s softness inside, with her primary goals centered on making it home to her kid and working her way up the police ranks.
Whether they like it or not, these two make a great team – they just don’t always know how to show it. As fan Kelly wrote, “Don’t worry, we all know lowkey Bishop is a softy. Sooner or later she will show it.” Shannon Hausen declared, “I think that Bishop is a badass. She and Nolan make a great team.”
This would’ve been the case, but unfortunately Afton Williamson has now been written out of The Rookie for S2, a devastating blow for fans of Bishop. This also comes with the shock revelation that she left due to discrimination and bullying on set.
Officer Nolan + Officer Chen = #RelationshipGoals
Those aren’t our words, but those of fan Matthew Twihard, who added, “please don’t have them break up” in reply to the beautiful clip of Nolan strolling along the beach with fellow rookie Lucy Chen. Whether these two will make it in their against-the-rules relationship is yet to be seen. Opportunities certainly abound for perfect romantic asides among the dramatic scenes of the show.
Nolan and Chen’s romance comes to an end during S1, but that doesn’t mean it’s the last we’ll see of romance for Nolan – there’s surely more love on the horizon.
Nathan Fillion is Nathan Fillioning all over the place
It’s not his quintessential role – do we really need to mention Castle again? – but Fillion is still his charming, witty, cute, endearing, integral, talented self as the central character. Did we mention charming? While remaining very Fillionesque, his performance makes for a natural progression for the actor as he moves into a brand-new career phase.
As fan Matthew Wolfe observes, “Nathan makes a great detective just like when he was in @Castle_ABC.” Seeing Fillion back in action was a main reason viewers tuned in. What made them watch episode two and beyond? Fillion’s indelible ability to hook us with his unmatched charisma.
The Rookie, we love you
Yes, Fillion’s facial expressions warrant a paragraph of their own – he’s still got the skills to write a thousand words with one swift raise of an eyebrow. As viewer Sally Ramsey Writer put it, “Nathan can communicate almost anything without a word.” Bravo, old chap!
It would appear the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to The Rookie. Yes, we miss Castle, and YES, we miss Firefly. But sweet lawd, the casting is amazing, the jokes are many, the writing is solid, and it’s easy-viewing chewing gum for the mind. Not taking itself too seriously, The Rookie is a balanced ensemble cop dramedy with a strong-as-ever Fillion at the center of it.
One final note: We miss Captain Mal
There, we said it. We shall never get over the ruthless end of Firefly nearly two decades ago, and until the show makes a return to our screens, we will forever pine for the tight-trousered Captain (even though it appears Nathan manages to squeeze back into tightpants in The Rookie S2).
Many viewers shared a similar sentiment, with RdNkAngel remarking, “@NathanFillion will forever be my captain,” and The Sassiest Semite replying to The Rookie and Nathan Fillion with “Bring. Firefly. Back.”
You said it, sister.