STUDIO: Shout! Factory
MSRP: $25.99
660 minutes
•  Commentaries with LAPD officers
•  Police Photo Gallery
•  Tour of Reed & Malloy’s Training Center

The Pitch

The drama that chronicles of how Los Angeles cops spend their days in between donut breaks and nightstickin’ the poor folks.

The Humans

Martin Milner, Kent McCord, William Boyett, Fred Stromsoe.

The Nutshell

Senior officer Pete Malloy (Milner) and junior officer Jim Reed (McCord) are on the job as two of LA’s finest in this police drama from producer Jack Webb.

The Lowdown

Coming off of the credibility he gained starring in Dragnet, Jack Webb produced this de facto spinoff about the exploits of an experienced cop and his padawan learner that ran from 1968 to 1975.  Employing many of the traits of the parent program, Adam-12’s stories were taken from actual police cases, with the “…names have been changed” tagline appearing at the end of each episode.  I was alive when this show was still on the air and I remember pretty much nothing about it.  Once thing is for certain: Adam-12 may have been realistic in its day, but it’s about as far from shows like Law & Order as you can get.  Cornball and dated ethics and morality preaching from the two leads and portraying the police as the squeakiest clean human beings in existence during a time when there was still considerable racism on the force not only in LA, but across America.

“Malloy, where are you going?  We’ve got to go quell that riot down in Watts.””
“Are you kiddin’ me?  I’m not going down there, it’s dangerous!”

While it occasionally portrays the seedier side of life in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the characters on Adam-12 are nonetheless about two zip codes away from Pleasantville territory.  I may be wrong, but everything that I’ve seen of the period, from movies to TV to magazines, LA was never, ever this clean cut.  Still, on the positive side, the show should be commended for actually getting out into the neighborhoods of LA and shooting rather than doing everything on the backlot.  You do get a good look at the city as it was 40 years ago.  Nevertheless, although the stories may be based on true police files and as realistic as Webb and company could make them, they’ve been Hollywoodized to just shy of saccharine wholesomeness that makes them difficult to get through.  Check out a full episode here and see if you’re not hurling within ten minutes from the sugar overload. Adam-12 is probably going to appeal to the over-30 crowd for nostalgia sake.  For the younger crowd, who are used to their cop shows far edgier and hard-hitting, it’ll probably come off as a quaint oddity.  Can you imagine Malloy and Reed on Vic Mackey’s squad?

“Hey Malloy, what happened to your arm?  Break it tackling a murder suspect?”
“Worse, got a wicked backlash when I was crackin’ a wino’s head open with my stick…”

The Package

The episodes do look fantastic after 40 years.  If you compare them to the footage of some TV promos for the show included on Disc 1, the difference is clearly noticeable and the latter look like color news reels from the ’50s that weren’t taken care of.  There are commentaries by real LAPD officers on various episodes and they make interesting observations about how different things were back then compared to the job now.  There’s also a photo gallery tour of Reed and Malloy’s training center, as one of historical police items and locations, both of which you have to click like a slide show that you’ll probably tire of within three frames.

4.3 out of 10