‘It’s not just major crimes versus beat cop, national versus local. The central characters have different agendas’

Distributor eOne International Distribution
Producers ABC Signature; Perfectman Pictures; eOne
Length 13 x 60 minutes
Broadcaster ABC (US)

When Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter reunited for ABC’s The Rookie back in 2018, the streaming boom was kicking off and there was no guarantee that a new network procedural would last more than a series, given tastes were moving towards more ‘sophisticated’ scripted programming. But the Nathan Fillion-led series bucked the trend, becoming a hit for ABC and running for five seasons (and counting).

Now Hawley and Winter have revisited the premise with the national crime agency-focused The Rookie: Feds.

The series follows Simone Clark, played by Niecy Nash-Betts (Mrs America; Getting On; When They See Us), who has made a radical career swerve, swapping her work as a guidance counsellor in Washington DC for a special agent position with the FBI in LA.

Clark’s ambition is to join a special investigative unit (SIU) of misfits tasked with shaking up the Bureau’s rigid tradition by investigating unique cases with idiosyncratic methods. As the oldest rookie in the group, can Clark use her experience to make the SIU a success?

ABC’s commitment to the series attests to the enduring popularity of the procedural among audiences.

“It won’t depart too much from The Rookie in terms of the nature of the show. It will be watchable crime”

EOne executive vice-president of sales for EMEA and Asia Spyro Markesinis insists that Feds is not simply a spin-off, but part of a Rookie franchise.

“Alexi and Terence have done it differently,” he says, comparing Feds with its predecessor. “It’s not just major crimes versus beat cop, national versus local. The central characters have different agendas. Niecy will have different struggles.

“It won’t depart too much from The Rookie in terms of the nature of the show. It will be watchable crime – not the darkest or most serialised, but it will absolutely take on relevant issues and attitudes to law enforcement.”

For Markesinis, the show’s USP is the “crackling” performance of Nash-Betts in the lead role, distinct from Fillion’s “soft burn” in the original, which is “how Alexi and Terence have moved the procedural on”, he says.

Rights boon

EOne is relaxed about the prospects for the series because of the “comfort, dependability and safety” that procedurals offer to audiences and buyers. Additionally, having full global rights to a US scripted show from a broadcaster with an affiliated VoD service is a boon for any distributor.

“You don’t get many knocking about these days,” he says. “There are a few legacy titles out there, but you don’t know how long many of those will be around for, and how many will get migrated back to their home platform.

“It brings diversity to the slate. You absolutely want a great big network procedural along with your award-winning serialised fare.”

EOne can therefore choose the path to market for the show, weighing up the free, pay and SVoD options in each market. “It’s very attractive for buyers to have this. It’s well made, high budget and with great talent,” Markesinis says.