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.

Kent McCord as Jim Reed and Martin Milner as Pete Malloy in "Adam-12" (Source: KentMcCord.com)

Kent McCord as Jim Reed and Martin Milner as Pete Malloy in “Adam-12” (Source: KentMcCord.com)

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.
Pop culture
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”
Guest stars
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

Child actress Margaret O'Brien plays mother to child delinquent Buddy Foster (brother of Jodie Foster) in the 1970 episode "Sign of the Twins" (Source: KentMcCord.com)

Child actress Margaret O’Brien plays mother to child delinquent Buddy Foster (brother of Jodie Foster) in the 1970 episode “Sign of the Twins” (Source: KentMcCord.com)

-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.

Milner and McCord with Julie London as Dixie McCall-an "Emergency!" character

Milner and McCord with Julie London as Dixie McCall-an “Emergency!” character

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.

Milner, McCord and Bill Boyet. (Source: KentMcCord.com)

Milner, McCord and Bill Boyet. (Source: KentMcCord.com)

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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11 thoughts on “1-Adam-12…1-Adam-12

  1. I was a huge “Adam 12” fan when it first aired. Even had the comic books.

    As an adult I worked as a clerk for our local police. I once overheard one of the Inspectors remark that “the trouble with the young fellas today is that they grew up watching Miami Vice instead of Adam 12”. It says volumes about the authenticity of the show.


  2. Really enjoyed your post, Jessica — I remember Adam-12 well, especially the voice of the dispatcher. I also liked reading about some of the other shows from back in the day, like Mannix (which was must-see TV for my mother), and Ironside, which I just found out last night is coming back on, with that fine-A Blair Underwood in Raymond Burr’s role!). Couple more things — both Martin Milner and Kent McCord are still with us, which is always nice to know — and my introduction to Milner was in this show, so you can imagine my excitement and interest when I saw him in Sweet Smell of Success!


  3. Jessica, a well-done post about an intriguing series that defied the odds in terms of content and structure. But then, Jack Webb always did march to the beat of his own drum. I always thought that Martin Milner was an immensely likable star, on ADAM-12 and earlier on ROUTE 66. He certainly spent a lot of time in cars in both of his series, first with Buz and later Reed. Thanks for participating in what has been a great blogathon!


  4. Thanks for sharing about Adam-12. I love both Adam-12 and Dragnet. When I visited Los Angeles for the first time, I was delighted in how many street names I recognized merely by watching Adam-12 (and Dragnet) for years. LOVE that show.


  5. Ye gods…an Adam-12 episode featuring my two sworn nemeses: She Who Must Not Be Named and Mike the Idiot Boy. Must…refrain…from…seeking…this…out…

    I think I was the only kid in my class who never watched the show (which might explain my lifelong disrespect of authority) but thanks to Me-TV, I’ve got up on quite a few of the reruns and it’s actually not a bad little show. (It helps if you ignore the fact that creator Webb whitewashed a lot of the racial tension in the LAPD prevalent at the time.) Great post, J.P.!


  6. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an “Adam-12” episode in its entirety. I think, at some point, I confused it with “CHiPs” – though they weren’t on at the same time. I have been watching “Emergency” lately – it’s on toward the end of my work day and (because I work in TV I have a TV in my office) I catch a bit of it before I leave (while still working, of course!). I’ll give “Adam-12” a look…


    • Thank you for stopping by!
      Emergency is definitely a favorite of mine. I was in love with Johnny Gage in 7th grade. 🙂 I think there are some Adam-12 episodes online as well as on MeTV


  7. A wonderful look back Jessica! As a kid I watched all the cop shows you mention and while ADAM-12 was not a big favorite of mine, the show was interesting and had that DRAGNET type day to day realism to it thanks to Jack Webb.


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