17 December 2011 | Sparky48
70s' Hit Crime Drama
"When you need help, you call the police. But when the police needs help, they call S.W.A.T." I vividly remember this tag used to advertise this then-new TV crime drama, which debut in 1974 when I was 13.
Having watched a number of detective and conventional police crime dramas on television, S.W.A.T. was indeed a different type a crime-drama TV series about the quasi-military arm of the Los Angeles police department, assigned to respond to extreme/emergency situations. The show became an instant hit, with its theme song even becoming one as well on many radio stations during the mid-seventies.
A strong cast lead by Steve Forrest, who plays the stern, level-headed Lt. Dan "Hondo" Harrelson--and featuring Rod Perry as "Deacon" Kay, his loyal right-hand man, Marc Shera as Officer Dominic Luca, the free-spirited Italian, James Coleman as Officer T.J. MaCabe, the expert marksman, and Robert Urich, as the no-nonsense young Officer Jim Street--provides solid and intriguing drama that would hold the TV viewers' attention in almost every episode.
However, I recently viewed the series again in re-runs on TVLand, and as a middle-aged man now instead of a young teenager, I've become a bit more critical. When watching the series now, it seems quite unrealistic how in certain episodes a S.W.A.T. team member had personal connections to an individual who was involved in a particular case that the S.W.A.T. team responded to.
In one episode, T.J. reunites with his former high-school basketball teammate and introduces him to the other members of the S.W.A.T. team. Later that evening, T.J.'s buddy, who's now a pro basketball player, plays a basketball game at the local arena and thugs kidnap his team. They hold the players hostage in the locker room, and you can guess--by the strangest coincidence--what particular law enforcement unit comes to the rescue.
In another episode, a college professor of a university is also held hostage by extremists with the S.W.A.T. team responding to the emergency. Interestingly enough, the professor just happens to be Street's instructor of a course that he's is currently taking in night school at the university.
Yet in spite of these "Hollywoodish" moments, the show still holds up fairly well after 35 years. It can still captivate TV audiences with its action-packed, dramatic moments and provides sufficient entertainment to merit viewing.