It’s actually been nine months, but in the world of “Rookie Blue,” it’s been only a very short time since Detective Sam Swarek (Ben Bass) was shot.
His ex-flame, Officer Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym), watches him being wheeled into surgery as Season 5 of the Canadian-made ABC police drama has a two-hour opener at 9 p.m. Thursday. Dov Epstein (Gregory Smith) is at the hospital, too, hoping to see his girlfriend and fellow officer Chloe Price (Priscilla Faia) – as is her estranged husband, Wesley Cole (Cle Bennett) – as she recovers from also being severely wounded on the job.
Andy and Dov head for a nearby diner to grab a quick bite. Within moments, though, they end up among the hostages of a couple bent on robbing the place … and the new adventures of the cops of 15 Division are off and running.
“I’ve never tried before to pick up exactly where we left off,” co-creator and executive producer Tassie Cameron said. “We normally jump ahead three months or six months, so that we start in a bit of a fresh way and the audience has to play catch-up. This was more challenging because we’re picking up moments after the finale of Season 4 and trying to remind everybody where you’re at. And you’re starting in this very intense, emotional place.”
Peregrym appreciates having that moment on camera, as well as Andy’s first encounter with latest beau Nick Collins (Peter Mooney) after he watched her run to Sam’s side. “To have a year off, then come back and put ourselves back where we were emotionally, was so strange,” the actress noted. “Every day, there was crying and heavy stuff, but I think it’s a really good first episode.”
The season premiere also introduces new characters: Inspector John Jarvis (Oliver Becker), a no-nonsense superior destined to shake things up at the precinct; and Sarah Swarek (Robin Brule), Sam’s long-estranged sister. Also brought into the fold is Duncan Moore (Matthew Owen Murray), a trouble-prone rookie with the nickname “Selfie” who gets Andy as a training officer.
As much attention as “Rookie Blue” gives the up-and-down “McSwarek” relationship of Andy and Sam, Cameron likes that Season 5 also showcases “characters that sometimes don’t get an ‘A’ story. We get to do special episodes where it’s all about Oliver (the officer played by Matt Gordon) or all about Nick. We’ve designed one around Oliver’s worst day, personally and professionally, and Matt is stellar in it.”
The new “Rookie Blue” season marks a couple of firsts for the show. Though more noticeable to the cast and crew than to viewers – since half will be shown this summer and the other half presumably next year – it’s being filmed as a “super-season” of 22 episodes. Also, the Canadian audience already has seen the first new stories, since they began running there in May.
“It feels like a marathon in a way that I should have anticipated, but it just keeps going,” Cameron allowed of this year’s production schedule. “It’s really fun for us to develop stories that have some more continuing elements. The writers had a nice chunk of time off, longer than usual, so we came back in fairly fresh … but we thought we were breaking a 13-episode season. We were well into production when we found out we were doing 22.”