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Don’t make a Rookie error

Don’t make a Rookie error

You’ll kick yourself if you miss season 6 of The Rookie on Sky Witness, featuring the oldest new recruit in the LAPD. Here’s what you need to know – plus the best crime dramas to watch next

By Chris Miller, Feature Writer

John Nolan, a divorced and directionless man in his mid-40s, is caught up in a bank robbery and helps the authorities foil the perpetrators. It’s an incident that helps Nolan realise what he’s always wanted to do with his life: be a police officer. So he packs up and moves to LA, one of the few agencies in the US that accepts recruits of his age, to enter the police academy and try to follow his dream.


This is the premise of Sky Witness’s The Rookie, and if you think it sounds far-fetched, think again. It’s drawn from the real-life story of Bill Norcross, a veteran officer who also serves as a producer on the series. With Nathan Fillion in the lead role, The Rookie has reached its sixth season – starting Thursday 27 June at 9pm on Sky Witness HD (CH 110) – and is firmly established as one of the most entertaining series on TV.


Over the previous five seasons, Nolan’s faced down as many challenges from within the Los Angeles Police Department as from criminals. Apart from the training that’s physically and mentally demanding for a young person, let alone a middle-aged one who’s done a desk job for 20 years, he had to deal with Sergeant Wade Grey (Richard T Jones), who was highly sceptical about Nolan’s motivation for joining the police and gave him a hard time to ensure he wasn’t working through a midlife crisis and putting other officers in danger by playing at being a cop.


Inevitably, Nolan has also experienced the departure and even death of trusted colleagues, and he finds himself in high-tension situations on the regular. But on the plus side, he’s found post-divorce happiness with a new love.


Fillion is no stranger to unorthodox crime-solving, after playing mystery author turned police consultant Richard Castle in eight seasons of Castle. While that show highlighted the romantic and comic aspects of police work as well as Castle’s moderately wacky family, The Rookie is more serious about policing – especially since the widespread protests following the death of George Floyd, which prompted creator Alexi Hawley (along with the writers behind many crime shows) to take a more sensitive and empathetic approach to their depictions of police work.


The Rookie
’s cast is full of police and crime drama veterans. Jones did three years on Hawaii Five-0 and has also appeared in NCIS: New Orleans, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and CSI: Miami; Afton Williamson, who played training officer Talia Bishop, has been in The Following, Blue Bloods and Shades Of Blue; Alyssa Diaz (Detective Angela Lopez) was a recurring star of Ray Donovan and has been in two CSIs and an NCIS; Eric Winter (training officer Tim Bradford) is another veteran of CSIs and was also in procedurals Rosewood and The Mentalist.


The great thing about crime procedurals like The Rookie and all the shows mentioned is that you don’t need to know any more than the basic premise to enjoy them. Pretty much every episode, a new case comes up, a smart investigator investigates, and it’s solved by the time the credits roll – what more could you ask for? Of course, you can start at the beginning and make your way through every episode, but you’ll get just as much out of it if you just start watching. In many ways it’s the art of telly, perfected.


When does The Rookie season 6 start?

The new sixth season of The Rookie begins on Thursday 27 June at 9pm on Sky Witness HD (CH 110). All 98 episodes of the first five seasons are available to watch in On Demand, so you can binge the lot, remind yourself of recent storylines ahead of the new season if you want, or just watch any episodes you like. There’s also 22 episodes of spin-off The Rookie: Feds, starring Niecy Nash-Betts (When They See Us).


And there are plenty more crime procedurals for you to watch in On Demand once you’re done with The Rookie. Binge, drop into a season, pick and choose your episodes – guaranteed villain-busting entertainment whatever approach you take.



Seasons in On Demand: 1-7


Episodes: 141


What’s it about? LAPD Sergeant Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson (Shemar Moore) leads a Special Weapons And Tactics unit, foiling the city’s most violent criminals.


What makes it stand out? He may be a weapons expert, but Hondo isn’t a shoot first-questions-later kind of cop. Having grown up in LA, he feels kinship with the citizens, especially the Black community who are frequently over-policed.


More to come? Yes – season 7 was to be the final season, but it was recommissioned for at least one more.



Seasons in On Demand: 1-6


Episodes: 113


What’s it about? In the FBI’s New York City field office, Special Agent Maggie Bell (Missy Peregrym) is part of a dedicated team solving the US’s most serious federal crimes, including terrorism and organised crime.


What makes it stand out? It’s all about the agents and their top-notch analytical and technical skills, with little in the way of character background or romantic shenanigans. Just pure, concentrated crime-solving.


More to come? Yes – plus there are the spin-offs FBI: International (seasons 1-3) and FBI: Most Wanted (seasons 1-5)


The Equalizer

Seasons in On Demand: 1-4


Episodes: 53 (season 4 continues Tuesdays at 9pm on Sky Witness HD)


What’s it about? Robyn McCall (Queen Latifah), a former CIA operative who uses her skills to protect vulnerable people with nowhere else to turn.


What makes it stand out? There are no actual cops involved – McCall helps those who despair of getting any protection from the authorities.


More to come? Yes


Chicago PD

Seasons in On Demand: 9-10


Episodes: 44 (out of 221 total)


What’s it about? The Chicago police’s elite Intelligence Unit, headed by no-nonsense Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), solve the city’s most disturbing crimes.


What makes it stand out? The officers are flawed and often close to the crimes they investigate: when Detective Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) owes money to a drug dealer, the dealer attacks his daughter; Detective Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush) has a brother who was kidnapped by child traffickers. Their emotional responses in related cases aren’t without consequences.


More to come? Yes – plus, if you’re in the mood for something less police-y, there are sister shows Chicago Fire (seasons 11-12) and Chicago Med (seasons 7-9).


Blue Bloods

Seasons in On Demand: 11-13


Episodes: 57 (out of 285 total)


What’s it about? The Reagans are a New York family with a long history in the police force, headed by Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck), Commissioner of the NYPD.


What makes it stand out? Each family member is involved with law enforcement in a different way – Frank is the Commissioner; eldest son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is a detective; youngest son Jamie (Will Estes) is a beat cop; daughter Erin (Bridget Moynahan) is a prosecutor – bringing them into frequent conflict..


More to come: Yes, one more season.


Hawaii Five-0

Seasons in On Demand: 1-10


Episodes: 240


What’s it about? A major crimes task force set up by the Governor of Hawaii (Jean Smart) works to keep the islands safe from violent criminals.


What makes it stand out? A crime procedural that doesn’t take place on the gritty streets of a large US city is a nice change. There’s plenty of colour in this slick update to the 1960s original, from the greenery to the shirts.


More to come? No – you can watch the complete Box Set now.



Seasons in On Demand:


Episodes: 61 (out of 323 total)


What’s it about? The Office of Special Projects, part of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, solves serious crimes with undercover work led by covert ops experts Sam Hanna (LL Cool J) and Grisha Callen (Chris O’Donnell).


What makes it stand out? The undercover work is a fascinating twist, giving more facets to the crimes and bringing the investigators into close contact with the perps – they’re rarely faceless, interchangeable wrong ’uns.


More to come: No, this one ended in 2023 – but if you want some NCIS to watch, you’ll be able to find it. The franchise has produced more than 1,000 episodes across all its series, with a new prequel show NCIS: Origins due to begin later this year.


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