ABC (ended 1976)
An hour long '70s TV series about a trio of attractive crime-fighters from producer Aaron Spelling - No, it's not the Angels. Before Charlie's Angels, uber-producer Spelling introduced us to the less campy police drama The Rookies. Centered on officers new to the Southern California Police Department and the situations they faced in the line of duty such as kidnapping, teen runaways, gang violence and racism. They may be young and (sometimes) naive but they are always professional. Not only produced by Aaron Spelling but the show also came to us courtesy of Leonard Goldberg, who produced the big-screen version of Charlie's Angels, and also introduced us to future Angel Kate Jackson who plays the show's only female star Nurse Jill Danko.
Before the series, The Rookies were first introduced in a full-length movie from ABC which served as the pilot. The original movie introduced us to the characters but featured a couple of different actors. The Rookies themselves were the same but in the movie Ryker was originally played by none other than "The Night Stalker" himself Darrin McGavin and Kate Jackson's role as Jill was first played by Jennifer Billingsley, probably best known as the female hoodlum who terrorized Olivia de Havilland in the 1964 shocker Lady in a Cage.
The movie did well enough that ABC decided to pick it up as a series. When it finally premiered it became so popular that it eventually served as a jumping off point for a lot of great young actors of the time. Besides Kate and Twin Peaks' Micheal Ontkean you could also catch early glimpses of other future stars such as John Travolta, Sissy Spacek, Martin Sheen, Nick Nolte, Tyne Daly and many more.
William Blinn, the co-creator of the show, also created Starsky and Hutch, another Spelling/Goldberg production.
The Rookies served as a launching pad for the short-lived spin-off S.W.A.T. starring Robert Urich which is now a big-screen film starring Colin Farrell.
The opening titles to Charlie's Angels were a little similar to that of The Rookies. In the titles of The Rookies we see the three main characters training at police academy and eventually becoming the Rookies.
Where are they now?
Georg Stanford Brown After honing his directorial skills directing episodes of The Rookies Georg went on to direct several more shows. His directing efforts on shows such as Hill Street Blues and Cagney & Lacey earned him an Emmy award and several nominations. He has even directed fellow Rookies cast-member Kate Jackson in several episodes of Charlie's Angels and Gerald S O'Loughlin in Roots: The Next Generation. Acting-wise George has been seen in the massively popular mini-series Roots, the mini-series North and South and most recently starred in the Showtime series Linc's with Pam Grier. Georg has also been spotted guest-starring on The District and Family Law. He's had three daughters with ex-wife and former Cagney & Lacey star Tyne Daly, who appeared in several episodes of The Rookies.
Michael Ontkean Canadian actor Ontkean retired from acting after two seasons on The Rookies before returning in 1977 with the hit Paul Newman film Slap Shot which united his two loves; acting and hockey. He later reunited with "Mrs. Danko" herself Kate Jackson in the controversial 1982 film Making Love in which they played a married couple coping with the fact that Ontkean's character had fallen in love with another man played by Harry Hamlin. After appearing in '80s comedies, such as Maid to Order with Ally Sheedy and The Allnighter with Joan Cusack, he earned one of his most popular roles as Sheriff Harry Truman in David Lynch's creepy-yet-monumental 1990 series Twin Peaks. Since then he has appeared in several TV movies, such as The Stepford Husbands (a sequel to The Stepford Wives), and in the big-screen film Just a Little Harmless Sex (a film by Halloween: Resurrection director Rick Rosenthal and written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer producer/writer Marti Noxon). He is currently married to All the President's Men actress Jamie Smith-Jackson, who also guest starred on a few episodes of The Rookies.
Sam Melville Sam continued to work in television appearing in shows such The Dukes of Hazzard, T.J. Hooker and The A-Team. He reunited with his TV wife Kate Jackson when he played her ex-husband Joe King in Kate's third popular TV series Scarecrow and Mrs. King. The actor, who co-starred in the original 1968 film version of The Thomas Crown Affair, has done a few movies, such as 1989's The Assassin and the horror Twice Dead, but sadly didn't get to do more. He died in 1989 at the age of 52 as a result of heart failure. You can visit The Official Sam Melville Memorial Website.
Kate Jackson As if there's someone out there who doesn't already know that after The Rookies this Emmy and Golden Globe nominee went on to star in the '70s trademark series Charlie's Angels. In it she played Sabrina Duncan, the "smart" one of the trio. If you watch the opening titles of Angels you can see her as a police trainee shooting a gun during target practice. Sound familiar? It's exactly the same scene we see during the opening titles of The Rookies. It was Spelling and Jackson's way of saying that now it was her turn to fight crime. As mentioned previously Kate has reteamed with all three of the original Rookies; Brown directed her in episodes of Charlie's Angels, Ontkean played her husband harboring a secret in the 1982 movie Making Love and Melville played her ex-husband Joe King in Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Scarecrow and Mrs. King was Jackson's third attempt at a TV series after Rookies and Angels and it was a successful one as Mrs. King ran for 5 years. Like Georg, Kate decided to take a shot at directing starting with episodes of Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Since then Kate has starred in numerous made-for-tv movies such as The Cold Heart of a Killer which she also produced from a book called "Murder on the Iditarod Trail." Most recently the breast cancer survivor starred in the remake of her own 1973 film Satan's School for Girls along with Spelling outcast Shannen Doherty, both versions were produced by Aaron Spelling.
Gerald S. O'Loughlin The distinguished actor still continues to work doing everything from television to film. After directing episodes of The Rookies and the 1970's Meredith Baxter series Family (Georg also directed episodes of that show) Gerald appeared in the mini-series Roots: The Next Generation, which reunited him with Georg Stanford Brown. Since then the actor has appeared in many films including 1996's acclaimed Crime of the Century with Isabella Rossellini and Stephen Rea. The film centered on the 1932 abduction of the Lindberg baby. Most recently he has guest-starred on shows such as ER, Chicago Hope, The Division and Judging Amy (reuniting him with Rookies recurring guest star Tyne Daly).
Bruce Fairbairn Not much is known about Bruce except that after The Rookies he appeared in the campy 1979 film Vampire Hookers with John Carradine, the 1987 sci-fi actioner Cyclone and the made-for-tv movie Do You Know the Muffin Man?, a courtroom drama about sexual abuse supposedly inspired by the McMartin case. You can also look for him in the Charlie's Angels rerun Angel Baby. Aside from that Bruce landed recurring roles in several TV shows; first on Knots Landing as Ray Geary and then as Sheldon Ganz in the popular lawyer drama L.A. Law.
The first three seasons of The Rookies aired Mondays nights at 8pm on ABC. The final season aired Tuesday nights at 9pm.
Wardrobe for the show was provided by The Gap
Automobiles were furnished by Chrysler Corp.
The series was filmed at 20th Century Fox Studiosmoreless