TV on DVD: Adam 12-- Season 2


Film Intuition Log #1:
"One Adam-12, One Adam-12: Seasons 3-7, Please Report to DVD."

Whether they're volunteering alongside school children in preparation for the local Police Olympics or taking on a biker gang while on a picnic, veteran officer Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) and probationary rookie Jim Reed (Kent McCord) are able to downshift from everyman to crime-fighting men in blue in a moment's notice.

Created and produced by legendary television visionary Jack Webb as an NBC spin-off from his wildly popular police procedural series Dragnet, "one Adam-12" became the new catchphrase following Dragnet's popular "just the facts, ma'am," tagline and while it seeped quickly into American culture, it was as deeply rooted in authenticity as its predecessor. Although partially filmed in the Universal Studios back-lot, outdoor filming also occurred in Toluca Lake, Studio City, North Hollywood, and Hollywood Hills as well as the then "newly completed Rampart Division station of the Los Angeles Police Department." Additionally, the secret to Adam-12's success was in its strict attention to detail as it featured "department issue badges, vehicles, and Los Angeles patrol stations" during its "seven season run... from 1968-1975," according to the official press release. Similar to Dragnet, the show's complicated plots were derived from actual LAPD cases, yet Adam-12 revealed an unprecedented grittiness in its depiction, ushering in a new far more dangerous era of policing as the show revealed the beginnings of the S.W.A.T. division, an increase in helicopter patrol, and the latest technology that we now take for granted.

While I feared it would seem hopelessly dated by today's standards, especially as a viewer who'd never seen the series before, I found myself quickly engrossed in the newly releasedwo-disc Season 2 DVD set from Shout! Factory and the way that, although methodology has changed, some of it still holds so true today. And while it opens with a slightly dull and less-than-action packed episode, it serves as an important introduction to those such as myself who'd been unacquainted with the original as we become familiar with the dedicated, gifted veteran and lifelong bachelor Malloy and his young overly eager Boy Scout like trainee Jim Reed who has a far more natural way with people but matures considerably under his partner's tutelage.

Notably switching gears from its opener-- perhaps crafted specifically to draw in audiences who may have missed the first season-- we're soon entrenched in the increasingly dangerous adventures the two ordinary men find themselves in as they track a serial rapist and murderer preying on young beautiful female hitchhikers around lover's lane. As is frequently the case throughout the series, Reed and Malloy must endure the constant scrutiny of the public who overstep their bounds throughout-- either trying to antagonize the officers, getting in the way, or causing quite a stir. When some of the situations prove far too much for young Reed-- a devoted husband and father to be-- such as when he arrests his first sex offender, Malloy is warned to reign in his partner who has less than one year on the force as Reed finds it hard to keep it together in a world where people who prey on children breathe the same air.

Fully humanizing the officers and doing much to fight stereotypes of both the officers (and diverse civilians), the two manage to always maintain integrity even when they're put in the most dire situations as Reed is threatened by a man who swears he'll get him once he's released from jail and Malloy finds himself held hostage when he wanders into the wrong restaurant for lunch.

With a natural antenna and a cop's intuition that only years of service can create, Malloy (Milner) continues to amaze such as when he notices that a local shopkeeper who'd never taken a day off in his life is suddenly nowhere to be seen as they cruise down the street in their Plymouth Belvedere and Kent McCord (as Reed) plays off of him well. Fearless and willing to try anything from hearing a baby crying and venturing into an apartment that's rumored to have a lion in it or assisting a young neighbor kid who returned home from a party on drugs, Reed and Malloy balance each other out.

Predictably, they develop a mental shorthand that's fun to watch as they exchange amused glances when faced with an overly chatty colleague, must try and stop a frightening sniper, deal with an elderly man who's tired of his wife's disruptive karate practice or trying to figure out how they could intervene when a man steals an airplane for a joyride and Reed deadpans, "What do ya do-- pull 'em over to the nearest cloud?"

With some events that have to be seen to be believed which makes it all the more riveting when you realize it's all strictly taken from "just the facts" as their Dragnet contemporaries would've said, perhaps its greatest legacy is upon discovering that episodes from both shows "have been used for training purposes by police academies in the United States, especially when teaching recruits correct handcuffing procedures" as well as the accurate depiction of "hand signals used by officers... to the methods used in field interviews, and even such minor details as routinely locking the doors of the patrol car before leaving it unattended to interview victims or witnesses."

In a New York University doctoral study conducted in 1976 by Joesph S. Coppolino, he concluded that not only did Adam-12 excel in its correct portrayals "as realistically reflecting police work" but also noted that the show influenced the way police officers acted as well, as Wikipedia further noted that since the series was the first to show arrestees being given the new Miranda Warning, suspects "would correct actual officers... [who] used a slightly different wording."

And although, like most civilians, I assumed that the catchy "one Adam-12" dispatch call that opened every show referenced Malloy and Reed directly, I realized upon further research that it broke down as one (their Central Division or Rampart Division location, Adam in revealing they were a two man patrol and twelve to referencing their precise beat. Likewise, I was thrilled to discover that the 2-Disc DVD set comes complete with two catchy, free Adam-12 ringtones so that you can experience the dispatch call for yourself, if your cell phone is compatible.

View One Version of the Opening Credits

Complete with actual LAPD commentary, a historic police based photo gallery, a "Ride Along Fact Track" and "Tour of Reed & Malloy's Training Center," the fast-paced and addictive twenty-six episodes of Season 2 may all run roughly 22 minutes each but they pack enough drama for a show twice its length. Police procedural television at its best and minus all of the grotesque violence and gratuitous Dennis Franz nudity of 90's shows, Adam-12 offers a wonderfully retro trip back in time as we ride-along with the endlessly hardworking Reed and Malloy who spend every waking minute doing their best to clean up the city of Angels.