Summer TV Sh*tshow is a summer-long series in which we’ll document our viewing experiences of the worst that TV has to offer between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Christ, Canada. What the hell? I know our friends up North can make great television — “Slings and Arrows” is one of my top ten shows of all time — but I see a show like “Rookie Blue” or “Degrassi,” and I wonder what the hell is in the water up there that makes shows like these so popular, and in this case, popular enough to be transplanted to the United States for the third summer in a row on a television network. Say what you want about bad American procedurals, but at least we know how to kill people in creative ways. I mean, look at the last two episodes of “Law and Order: SVU.” One involved investigating a murder caused by a rivalry between two whore houses, and the other involved an investigation of the city’s underground culture of amputation and self-mutilation. That’s how we do it in ‘MURICA.
Meanwhile, Canada’s “Rookie Blue” makes the relatively tame “Castle” look like a Dario Argento flick. In the season opener of “Rookie Blue,” there isn’t even a murder. Christ, people. What kind of procedural doesn’t involve a grisly death? The premiere centers on a four-car fender bender in which no one is seriously hurt, but a child that has been missing for years is uncovered in the back of a van. Has she been tortured and beaten during all of that time? No, of course not. This is Canadian television: She had been accommodated in a lovely room with a doll house and her own toilet, and she was rather fond of her kidnapper, who was a homeowner. He didn’t even look pervy. Also, William Shatner shows up as the drunk and doddering old grandfather because apparently Shatner owes some secret debt to Canada. Either that, or he will literally take any role with a paycheck attached. When he apologizes to his granddaughter for losing her at the fair seven years prior, there are no histrionics. Only forgiveness. “It’s not your fault grandpa that a nice man took me to live with him for seven years. It’s no biggie. I won’t even need therapy for this, and if I did, the Canadian health system would gladly pick up the tab!” *Hugs*
This was my first — and only — episode of “Rookie Blue,” and my take away is that it’s some sort of mish-mash police procedural/Degrassi hybrid. It involves a lot of fairly homogeneously attractive Canadians — who don’t resemble actual police officers anywhere except in strip-o-gram services — answering the call of duty, and by that I mean, chasing down Canada’s most dangerous criminals: Speed violators and petty thieves. I am led to believe that the show’s lead is Missy Peregrym, who plays a gorgeous by-the-books tomboy who had a minor dalliance with a fellow officer that nearly cost her her job at the end of last season. Everyone else is very overeager and earnest and bland and written as one-dimensionally as possible, and the production values are just a bit more glossy than cable access.
It’s not a terrible show as much as it’s terribly tame and banal, like it’s been written for TeenNick. It’s a fully-clothed “Baywatch.” There are more subversive episodes of “Saved by the Bell,” but “Rookie Blue” can’t even skate by on its glorious cheesiness. It’s televised mayonaise, and not even the kind with zing. Keep this stuff to yourself, Canada. Come back when you can give us a murder victim with a half-eaten face and an investigation with a few dry wisecracks and more than one red herring.