During a time when law enforcement and the military weren’t popular in the United States, Officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed patrolled the streets of Los Angeles.
From September 1968 to May 1975, the two officers arrested murderers, lectured motorcyclists and helped women in childbirth in the television show “Adam-12” starring Martin Milner (Malloy) and Kent McCord (Reed).
Produced by Jack Webb, who also created “Dragnet” and “Emergency,” the show portrays the professionalism of police officers and police departments. Webb made the shows so accurate that some police academies used the shows for training, according to IMDB.
To keep the accuracy, Reed’s badge was even changed from “Policeman” to “Police Officer,” according to Adam12Code3.com.
“Adam-12 ” shows the military style of the police force while showing that Reed and Malloy were young, contemporary and had lives outside the force.
For example, Malloy was set up on blind dates and Reed and his wife have a baby. On their day’s off, Malloy can be seen driving muscle cars and both wear loud, floral shirts-fashionable at the time.
The show conveyed realistic issues relevant to the late-1960s and 1970s:
-Marijuana use and addiction to pills, heroin and other drugs
-Teenagers running away from home to travel to San Francisco
-Disrespect for law enforcement with use of terms such as “down with the pigs”
Popular celebrities of the time and old Hollywood stars frequently showed up on Adam-12, making the show an extra treat for current day pop culture fans. Some of these included:
-Child star Margaret O’Brien as a the mother to a delinquent child-Season Three, Episode 12
-Actor John Kerr as a priest- Season Two, episode 8
-Leave it to Beaver actor Tony Dow as a ex-Marine who’s car is stolen by a girl-Season Three, episode 5
-Monkees singer Mickey Dolenz as a police hating motorcyclist- Season Five, episode 1
The Cross Over
Since Webb produced “Dragnet,” “Adam-12” and “Emergency” and all were set in Los Angeles—the shows overlap throughout the years.
“Emergency” started in 1972, when “Adam-12” was in its fifth season. On “Emergency,” you will occasionally see the officers drop by Rampart Hospital, the hospital “Emergency!” paramedics report to, in episodes.
In season 5, episode 4 of “Adam-12” called “Lost and Found,” the police officers take a young boy to Rampart Hospital. There they run into “Emergency!” characters such as Nurse Dixie McCall (Julie London), Paramedic Roy DeSoto (Kevin Tighe), Paramedic Johnny Gage (Randolph Mantooth) and Dr. Kelly Brackett (Robert Fuller).
Supporting actors of “Adam-12” also can be seen in “Emergency!” Bing Crosby’s son, Gary Crosby plays a police officer in “Adam-12” and a paramedic in “Emergency!” In both shows, Crosby’s character is a bit of a show off, taking credit he doesn’t deserve.
Actor Marco Lopez can be seen as an officer in “Adam-12,” but has a larger role in “Emergency!” as Firefighter Marco Lopez.
What’s so special about Adam-12?
“Adam-12” was certainly not the only police show on television during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Others included:
-“The FBI” (1965 to 1974) starring Stephen Brooks and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. telling different F.B.I. cases.
-“Hawaii Five-0” (1968 to 1980) starring Jack Lord and James McArthur about a detective who is the head of the special state police task force
-“Ironside” (1967 to 1975) starring Raymond Burr who is a paraplegic detective
- “Mannix” (1967 to 1975) starring Mike Connors who plays a private investigator
-“The Mod Squad” (1968 to 1973) starring Michael Cole, Clarence Williams III, Peggy Lipton, Tige Andrews who play “hippie” undercover cops.
Most of the crime shows on television during this time seemed to focus on daring detectives or spies, a popular topic due to the Cold War and films such as James Bond.
However, Adam-12 is one of the few TV series that showed the honest day-to-day approach of the men in blue. Reed and Malloy patrolled the streets, chased criminals through alleyways and sometimes found time to stop and eat a hamburger.
The television show doesn’t present their job in a glamorous but as a realistic and necessary job.
When “pig” was a popular term for police officers, Webb tried to present the police force fair. And on top of that, Reed and Malloy were attractive and pretty darn cool.
In my opinion, “Adam-12” is one of the best police shows ever made. It doesn’t clog the plot with pointless drama but keeps on target with the topic of officers keeping law and order.
This post is part of the MeTV blogathon. Check out more classic TV posts here.
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