Case Number 23861: Small Claims Court


Shout! Factory // 1975 // 1080 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // May 23rd, 2012

The Charge

"The second action-packed season of S.W.A.T promises to deliver one explosive ride!"

The Case

The call just came in. Hostage situation. Corner of liquor store and abandoned warehouse. Gunman has priors: The Rookies, Starsky And Hutch, T.J. Hooker, and quite possibly Finder of Lost Loves. Proceed with extreme caution.

With that, Lieutenant "Hondo" Harrelson (Steve Forrest, The Baron) and his heroic team are off, suiting up in color-coordinated riot gear, and speeding towards danger in their souped-up, tricked-out Metro bread truck. No-goodsters, beware!

Ominously and definitively titled, S.W.A.T. The Final Season tackles twenty two fraught-filled assignments:

* "Deadly Tide"
* "Kill S.W.A.T."
* "Dealers In Death"
* "Vendetta"
* "Criss Cross"
* "Vigilante"
* "Courthouse"
* "Ordeal"
* "Strike Force"
* "The Swinger"
* "Terror Ship"
* "Murder By Fire"
* "Silent Night, Deadly Night"
* "The Running Man"
* "Lessons In Fear"
* "Deadly Weapons"
* "The Chinese Connection"
* "Dragons And Owls"
* "Any Second Now"
* "Soldier On The Hill"
* "Dangerous Memories"
* "Officer Luca, You're Dead"

After some deliberation and soul-searching, I decided against including episode synopses here, due to the extreme repetition. Remember that "hostage situation" I mentioned earlier? Nine out of every ten S.W.A.T. scenarios devolve from some variation of the same. Maybe it's a ragtag bag of robbers (jewel thieves, dope peddlers), or a group calling itself "The New Patriots" taking over a radio station in order to start their revolution. Without some innocent bystander to press a gun barrel into the neck of, what kind of protection would a villain have from instant arsenal barrage by these "Special Weapons and Tactics" types, anyways?

Each episode begins with the thumping disco theme song over the opening credits. Did you miss that first establishing shot, the one where team members denude a sturdy rack of assault rifles? No worries; you'll be treated to the same sequence again. In fact, that sequence gets repeated just about every time the boys spring into action from their basement squad room. Speaking of the squad room, here's a tip: you can expect any scene set there to conclude with either a call to action, or a bright blue screen wipe leading straight into the closing credits.

The guys slipping on their bullet-proof vests, grabbing ropes, scaling fire escapes, or rappelling down the sides of buildings, scuttling into position, weapons pointed into the air as they tumble, dart, dash, and leapfrog over each other into darkened doorways or down precariously exposed halls. This is what passes "action" in S.W.A.T.

"How come they never fire their weapons?" my nine year old son asks me, during one episode we start watching together but I finish watching alone. I could have gone into a dissertation about the climate of the times for mid-'70s network television, which had recently taken a big pummeling over its excessive violence in prime time police dramas; how the situation was (temporarily) solved by the introduction of a "family" hour to start each programming night; followed by a new breed of inert action crime dramas that trafficked in wisecracking heroes who took out their villains in the final moments by bullet-grazing their arms. "But what would be the point of that?" I wonder. Turning back to S.W.A.T., with its mind-numbing scenes of skin-deep camaraderie and over-emoted guest stars, I ask myself, "What's the point of THIS?!"

Picking up where Sony left off a decade ago, the pop-culture curators at Shout! Factory have swooped in to bring the balance of this short-lived Spelling/Goldberg project to its small but rabid fan base. The filmed full frame (1.33:1) episodes betray a bit of time depreciation (there's a not unreasonable faded quality to the color) and some specks of dirt, but by and large the episodes look darned good; certainly an improvement of the first season's presentation. The Dolby 2.0 Mono mix is serviceable, but a bit of volume control manipulation may be required. Sadly, the absence of English subtitles for the hearing impaired means some precious bits of dialogue may be lost forever.

With all due respect to Messrs.' Forrest, (Robert) Urich, (Rod) Perry, (Mark) Shera, and (James) Coleman, the real heroes of S.W.A.T. are the largely uncredited crew responsible for composing, arranging, and performing the musical score. Even the most devoted "Swatters" are bound to admit that, for all the stair-climbing and getting-into-position the athletic actors engage in here, that's nothing compared to the sweats broken by the bassist, drummer, wind and horn sections wailing away behind them.

Boogie, not bullets!

The Verdict

Guilty of intent to loiter on my TV screen, when it should've been delivering pulse-pounding excitement.

Oh well...No real harm done, I guess. Sentence suspended.

Review content copyright © 2012 P.S. Colbert; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile
Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

* None

Running Time: 1080 Minutes
Release Year: 1975
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb