Cast of the television program The Rookies. Standing, from left: Michael Ontkean (Willie Gillis), Sam Melville (Mike Danko), Georg Stanford Brown (Terry Webster). Seated: Gerald S. O'Loughlin (Eddie Ryker).
|Created by||Rita Lakin|
|Starring||Georg Stanford Brown
Gerald S. O'Loughlin
|Theme music composer||Elmer Bernstein|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||94 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Leonard Goldberg
|Producer(s)||Paul Junger Witt
|Cinematography||Archie R. Dalzell
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Original run||September 11, 1972– March 30, 1976|
The Rookies is an American crime drama series that aired on ABC from 1972 until 1976. It follows the exploits of three rookie police officers working in an unidentified city for the fictitious Southern California Police Department (SCPD).
The series began as an ABC Movie of the Week airing on March 7, 1972, which also served as the pilot for the series. The success of Joseph Wambaugh's book, The New Centurions, as well as NBC's ratings success with Adam-12, had sparked interest at the time in a more realistic depiction and storytelling of the typical uniformed police officer. Although various incidents during the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly in California, had sparked controversy and negative feelings towards police officers in general, The Rookies tried to better humanize the character of a police officer and show the struggles that new, younger men and women (who were often Vietnam-era military veterans and/or college graduates) faced in their lives as law enforcement persons sworn to serve and protect the public. This 'new breed' of cop was a main theme, especially in the early years of the series.
The TV movie features five rookies newly arrived at a police academy in southern California: cadets Jared Whitman (Robert F. Lyons), Kevin Lassiter (Jeff Pomerantz), Mike Danko (Sam Melville), William "Willie" Gillis (Michael Ontkean), and Terry Webster (Georg Stanford Brown), all coming from different backgrounds including the military, college, and social work. The cadets' training sergeant was Eddie Ryker, played by Darren McGavin. (In the series, Sgt. Ryker had been recently promoted to lieutenant and was played by Gerald S. O'Loughlin.) The character of Jill Danko also appeared in the movie pilot, but was played by another actress, Jennifer Billingsley, and the part was recast for the series with Kate Jackson as Jill Danko, a registered nurse.
The Rookies TV series centers around three rookie officers, Danko, Webster, and Gillis, and their superior officer/mentor, Lieutenant Ryker. The show was produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg. Each episode showcased highly dramatized versions of police cases and activities, often intertwined with the off-duty lives of the officers and their significant others. Mike Danko was the only rookie in the series who was married. Although filmed in and around Los Angeles, the actual setting of the show was kept deliberately vague, and, in a TV Guide article about the show, "SCPD" was said to stand for "Southern California Police Department."
After the second season, the character of Willie Gillis was replaced (Ontkean left the show over complaints in the story writing) with a new rookie, Chris Owens, played by Bruce Fairbairn. During the series' third season, a two-part episode (entitled "S.W.A.T.") aired on February 17, 1975 and served as the pilot for the spin-off series S.W.A.T.
|Georg Stanford Brown||Officer Terry Webster|
|Sam Melville||Officer Mike Danko|
|Michael Ontkean||Officer Willie Gillis|
|Kate Jackson||Jill Danko|
|Gerald S. O'Loughlin||Lieutenant Ed Ryker|
|Bruce Fairbairn||Officer Chris Owens|
Notable guest stars 
The series was last seen in reruns on TV Land in 2003, but only episodes from the first two seasons were shown.
DVD releases 
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|The Complete First Season||24||July 17, 2007|
|The Complete Second Season||23||August 7, 2012|