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THE ROOKIE - "Pilot" - Starting over isn't easy, especially for small-town guy John Nolan who, after a life-altering incident, is pursuing his dream of being a police officer, on the premiere episode of "The Rookie," airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Tony Rivetti) NATHAN FILLION, MELISSA O'NEIL, TITUS MAKIN, RICHARD T. JONES

There are some actors that seem like such nice, down-to-Earth people that you can't help but want them to succeed. Nathan Fillion is one of those actors for me. And succeed Fillion does in his new ABC drama, "The Rookie," which plays to all of his strengths to create a show that stands out among the ever-growing crop of procedurals.

Fillion is John Nolan, a forty something construction worker who decides to make a life change and join the LAPD as the force's oldest rookie. His age makes him instantly clash with his superior, Sgt. Wade Grey (Richard T. Jones), who believes John is just working through a mid-life crisis that will put his other officers in jeopardy. But John has an ally in Captain Zoe Andersen (Mercedes Mason), who believes that John's life experience will be an asset to the force. In the premiere, John is partnered with Talia Bishop (Afton Williamson), who's unsure about whether she can count on John in the field.

Joining John as a rookie on the squad is Lucy Chen (Melissa O'Neil), who immediately runs into trouble with her training officer (Eric

Winter) thanks to his tough training methods, and Jackson West (Titus Makin), the son of a high-ranking LAPD officer who could cause trouble for his ambitious trainer (Angela Lopez).

Since the show is called "The Rookie" and Fillion is featured in all the promotion, I figured it was a star vehicle for him. So I was surprised to find it's actually an ensemble show, as we follow all three rookies and their training officers during their day on the beat. And though the main attraction is still most definitely Fillion, the other officers' stories help make the show much more entertaining as we get a fuller picture of life for an LAPD rookie.

I will admit that I have a slight beef with the show since I'm a fan of Eric Winter and his character is a horrible jerk that people are absolutely going to hate. But the end of the premiere gave me at least a little hope for some redemption, so I'm willing to overlook that for now. You can also credit Fillion for my willingness to forgive as he is so good in this role that was custom made for him that you can excuse Winter's walking clich, which I consider to be the show's most glaring flaw.

"Rookie" gives us an interesting procedural with real heart and humor. But look a little deeper and you'll see the show also gives us a little encouragement to never give up on our dreams, no matter how old we may be.

"The Rookie" premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16 on ABC.

Next week, I'll bring you a very special column as we walk down memory lane with a national sports broadcaster who started his broadcasting

career at a baseball field in Huntington.

Angela Henderson-Bentley writes about television for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact her at ahenderson-bentley@hotmail.com.

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