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The Rookies is an American police procedural series that aired on ABC from 1972 until 1976.[1] It follows the exploits of three rookie police officers working in an unidentified city for the fictitious Southern California Police Department (SCPD).

The Rookies
The Rookies cast 1973.JPG
Cast of The Rookies. Standing from left, Michael Ontkean, Sam Melville, Georg Stanford Brown. Seated, Gerald S. O'Loughlin.
GenrePolice procedural
Created byRita Lakin
Developed byWilliam Blinn
StarringGeorg Stanford Brown
Sam Melville
Michael Ontkean
Kate Jackson
Gerald S. O'Loughlin
Theme music composerElmer Bernstein
Composer(s)Elmer Bernstein
Robert Drasnin
Jack Elliott
Allyn Ferguson
Paul Glass
Shorty Rogers
George Romanis
Laurence Rosenthal
Mark Snow
Pete Rugolo
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes94 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Leonard Goldberg
Aaron Spelling
Producer(s)Paul Junger Witt
Hal Sitowitz
CinematographyArchie R. Dalzell
Dennis Dalzell
Editor(s)James Baiotto
Leon Carrere
Richard Malek
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time45–48 minutes
Production company(s)Spelling-Goldberg Productions
DistributorSpelling-Goldberg Productions (1972–1974)
Worldvision Enterprises (1974–1976)
Viacom Enterprises (1976)
Original networkABC
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseMarch 7, 1972 (1972-03-07) –
March 30, 1976 (1976-03-30)
Related showsS.W.A.T.


The series began as an ABC Movie of the Week airing on March 7, 1972, which also served as the pilot for the series.[2]

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.[3][4]

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.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
Pilot movieMarch 7, 1972 (1972-03-07)
123September 11, 1972 (1972-09-11)March 19, 1973 (1973-03-19)
223September 10, 1973 (1973-09-10)March 18, 1974 (1974-03-18)
324September 9, 1974 (1974-09-09)March 17, 1975 (1975-03-17)
423September 9, 1975 (1975-09-09)March 30, 1976 (1976-03-30)

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. The SWAT two-part episode only aired on ABC in 1975 and was subsequently never part of the syndicated TV rerun package as Spelling-Goldberg decided it might confuse viewers as to which TV show it belonged. Both parts One and Two of the S.W.A.T. pilot are now considered "Lost" as they could not be "found" for airings on Grit TV or TV Land. Season Four has also not been aired for about 20 years.



The series was seen in reruns on TV Land in 2003. In 2014, the show aired on Grit weekday mornings (though sometimes preempted by movies).[5] In 2016, the show aired on FamilyNet six days a week.[citation needed]

In September 1974, Spelling-Goldberg Productions and Worldvision Enterprises signed a contract giving Worldvision exclusive distribution rights to the series for 25 years. However, Worldvision backed out of the contract in May 1975, and in 1976, Spelling-Goldberg sued Worldvision for more than $5.6 million in damages, plus "general damages for fraud to be ascertained".[6]

In April 1976, Viacom bought the syndication rights to The Rookies; when the series entered syndication in 1977, local stations had the option to air either the condensed 30-minute episodes or the regular, full length 60-minute episodes. Viacom edited out violent content to make the series appropriate for airing in the Family Viewing Hour, and a few episodes were not syndicated by Viacom due to extreme violence. Spelling-Goldberg Productions's successor, Sony Pictures Television, restored the violent content for the series' airings on TV Land.

Home mediaEdit

On July 17, 2007, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the complete first season on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time.[7] The original pilot film was not included as part of this release.[8]

On August 7, 2012 Shout Factory released the complete second season on DVD in Region 1.[9]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season 24 July 17, 2007
The Complete Second Season 23 August 7, 2012


  1. ^ "The Rookies". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-07-09. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  2. ^ "The Rookies". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-07-05. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  3. ^ "The Rookies (1972)".
  4. ^ "The Rookies (TV Series 1972–1976)". IMDb.
  5. ^ "Programming Guide". Titan TV.
  6. ^ 'Rookies' picked up by Viacom for sale in family hours (page 46) from Broadcasting
  7. ^ Lambert, David (May 10, 2007). "The Rookies - 'Nurse' Kate Jackson Covers with The Rookies (Box Art)". TV Shows on DVD. Archived from the original on 2012-07-03.
  8. ^ Mavis, Paul (July 1, 2007). "The Rookies - The Complete First Season". DVD Talk.
  9. ^ Lambert, David (May 3, 2012). "The Rookies - 'Season 2' of this Classic Cop Show is Scheduled for DVD by Shout!". TV Shows on DVD. Archived from the original on 2012-05-05.

External linksEdit