Cast of The Rookies. Standing from left, Michael Ontkean, Sam Melville, Georg Stanford Brown. Seated, Gerald S. O'Loughlin.
|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|
|Production company(s)||Spelling-Goldberg Productions|
|Distributor||Viacom Enterprises (original)
Sony Pictures Television (current)
|Original release||March 7, 1972– March 30, 1976|
The Rookies is an American police procedural 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 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 toward 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.
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.
|Season||Episodes||First aired||Last aired|
|1||24||March 7, 1972||March 19, 1973|
|2||23||September 10, 1973||March 18, 1974|
|3||24||September 9, 1974||March 17, 1975|
|4||23||September 9, 1975||March 30, 1976|
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
- Tyne Daly
- Shelley Fabares
- Robert Harland
- Robyn Hilton
- Cheryl Ladd
- William Shatner
- Lurene Tuttle
- Tony Young
- Jaclyn Smith
- Olive Sturgess
- Larry Pennell
- John Travolta
- Roddy McDowall
- Jim Nabors
- Sissy Spacek
- Don Johnson
- Nick Nolte
- Louis Gossett Jr.
The series was seen in reruns on TV Land in 2003, In 2014, the show can be seen on Grit weekday mornings (though sometimes preempted by movies). When the series entered syndication, local stations had the option to air either the condensed 30-minute episodes or the regular, full length 60-minute episodes. Original syndicator Viacom distributed both the 30-minute and the 60-minute episode packages to local stations. In 2016, the show can be seen on Family Net coming on six days weekly.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|The Complete First Season||24||July 17, 2007|
|The Complete Second Season||23||August 7, 2012|
- "The Rookies". The New York Times.
- "The Rookies". The New York Times.
- WUAB listings - Titan TV.com
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Rookies.|