This fall, as ABC prepares to unveil shiny new procedural drama The Rookie, comparisons to ABC's other long-running cop show, Castle, are already underway, bolstered by the fact this new show also stars Castle's Nathan Fillion, and was created by Castle Showrunner Alexi Hawley.
The Rookie follows John Nolan, one of three ill-prepared police officers as they begin work on their first day at the LAPD. Each is monitored by a seasoned training officer as they learn to navigate the messy and complicated streets of LA with varying degrees of success.
Knowing ABC has been searching for a Castle replacement following Stana Katic's fraught departure, and the implosion of plans for a ninth season of the long-running and highly successful show, there is a palpable feeling among critics (and we're sure ABC TV execs too) that The Rookie could just be it, especially as recent contenders Deception and Take Two failed to make much of an impression on audiences this summer.
But are the comparisons justified? How similar is The Rookie's principal character John Nolan to his Castle counterpart?
At first glance, the comparisons seem spot on. John Nolan is funny, likeable, at times irreverent, and always charming. However, having screened the pilot a couple of times over the summer (the first official reviewable episode was made available to press today so look out for our official review coming soon), we can attest to some striking differences between two characters, who on the surface, appear to be cut from the same cloth.
Surprisingly, It's those differences that make The Rookie stand out in an over-crowded playing field of Castle wannabes.
It's also what earned it a spot on our Top 5 Fall TV Shows list this year.
The Man Behind the Motivation
Fans of Castle know Rick was haunted by a childhood experience when he became lost in woodland and discovered the body of a missing young woman — along with the man who murdered her. The killer let him go, but for years Rick was unable to let go of the memory of that event. It was a catalyst that helped shape his career in writing. Eventually Rick was able to bring the killer to justice, but only through painstaking and meticulous detective work and a dogged determination to bring the truth to life.
While LAPD rookie John Nolan is also determined to see justice served, his motives for joining the police force are less clear. Nolan tells a would-be killer in the pilot episode that he “wants to help people, not kill them.” However, his reasons for joining the LAPD are mostly stoked by a mid-life crisis and a desire to finally make something of his life.
It’s also interesting to note that where Richard Castle was able to play a long game in pursuit of justice, John Nolan’s tactics are generally more impetuous, rash and ill-thought out. You’ll see him diving headlong into trouble to save those around him without a thought for his own safety.
An admirable quality? His training officer Talia Bishop doesn’t think so.
Thinking things through and playing a long game is not John Nolan’s style.