Being a police officer can have its challenges -- and particular ones when you're new to the job.
A group of novice cops experiences many of them in the ABC drama series "Rookie Blue," premiering Thursday, June 24. An American-Canadian co-production as is CBS' "Flashpoint," the Toronto-based show is an ensemble piece, but the debut focuses largely on Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym, "Reaper"), a rookie with a lot to prove.
Not only does she want to be taken seriously, she's driven to surpass the legacy of her ex-cop father (Peter MacNeill), who fought his own professional demons. Andy ends up having a very eventful first day on the beat, attracting a homicide detective (Eric Johnson, "Flash Gordon"), then trying to talk down a suspect who takes her hostage at gunpoint.
Gregory Smith, remembered by "Everwood" fans as brooding piano prodigy Ephram Brown, also stars as another of the newly minted officers-in-blue. Charlotte Sullivan, Travis Milne and Enuka Okuma round out the cast as police-academy graduates now putting their training to work or trying to.
"The saving grace is that we really had no idea what we were doing, so we got to play into that," Peregrym recalls of starting production on the show. "We didn't have to have it all together. I think it would have been terrifying if I was supposed to have played a veteran of the job who'd been doing it for years. We weren't cool about anything we were doing. I mean, we couldn't even put the gun in the holster properly.
"Because I didn't grow up dying to be an actress, it's been a learning experience for me right from the beginning," adds Montreal-born Peregrym, "and it's the same with this show. After playing Andi on 'Reaper' -- which was amazing for me, since I got to be home and spend time with my family (in British Columbia) -- I was ready for something that had more depth. I just couldn't say 'No' to this, though I was nervous, because I didn't know what would be asked of me."
Peregrym notes that she and the other "Rookie Blue" actors had "one day of training where real officers came in and showed us how to handcuff someone, how to hold a gun, etc. There was so much to learn. You go to an academy for five months in real life, and we had one day to maybe understand the tools we would need to use. This show isn't about procedure, though, as much as it is about how the job affects the characters and defines them as people."
A major "co-star" in "Rookie Blue" is what the actors have to wear. Peregrym says that when she first tried on a police uniform, "I really got excited to play this character for the first time. I'm truly the biggest faker in every way when it comes to being an officer, but you feel like you have authority with that on. You stand taller, and you walk differently.
"The most irritating thing is that it takes 15 minutes to get out of it, so you watch how many liquids you drink. That's actually in one of the episodes."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun