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The Rookies / 1970s TV show

The Rookies Season 2

The Rookies (1972-76) season 2 has dropped on DVD. This mid-seventies cop series was one of the most popular of the decade. I didn't enjoy watching cop shows like this back in the day but I found The Rookies to be surprisingly good.

The scenario revolves around three rookie cops, one with a wife, and their supervisor. These officers work for the Southern California Police Department so there's never any sense of exactly where they are in such a large area. I particularly enjoy seeing the film locations, this was a period of decay for LA but it's great to see places that no longer exist (like Kiddieland) or some joint like The Joker nightclub that just closed in Santa Monica.

Curious place this Southern California of The Rookies. There are 4 or 5 full on gunfights in the streets in every episode, snipers on roofs are as common as can be. Cops and bad guys alike fire indiscriminately, as a matter of course, gunfire in apartment hallways, out on the street, people reflexively firing down as the police pull up. If a suspect flees the police unload bullets on him - none that connect, of course, leading one to wonder how dangerous it was to walk the streets in So Cal. Those bullets had to go somewhere! A betrayal or disrespect gets a guy a slug in the back right away. That kind of conceit was accepted, no required, of the genre at the time but it's odd to see in a modern context.

This is a darkly lit show, shot mostly at night, something ABC dramas tended to do during the '70s (gave the viewer at home watching at night more of a connection). You'll enjoy seeing the horrendously tacky homes with shades of green and brown dominating.

The cast is a strong one including Kate Jackson who previously starred in Dark Shadows and would soon rocket to even greater heights on Charlie's Angels. The real twist for me was how strong Gerald S. O'Loughlin as Lt. Ryker was. The same for Georg Stanford Brown who never went for the easy line read, keeping everything interesting; and his comic timing is spot on.

You'll see a litany of seventies character actors including Jim Nabors and Joan Blondell. One episode, 'The Teacher,' stood out for me with guest star Strother Martin chewing the scenery through a storyline that had the old codger schooling three hunky blond teen boys on the finer points of larceny. It all unravels when a pretty girl enters the picture and Martin's character descends into a jealous, murderous rage.

I found myself watching all 23 episodes of the 1973-74 season in this set, a fantastic trip back to the Polyester decade.

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