Judge Maurice Cobbs handles everything code three, baby.
Our reviews of Adam-12: Season One (published October 12th, 2005), Adam-12: Season Two (published October 23rd, 2008), Adam-12: Season Three (published October 21st, 2009), and Adam-12: The Final Season (published April 4th, 2012) are also available.
"You just have to know how to arrest them and still make them like you. We call it technique."—Officer Jim Reed
Did you ever notice that Kent McCord has a very serious face? Two severe black slashes over squinty eyes, no-nonsense nose, earnest, manly, sincere mouth that seems serious even when he's smiling. Very serious. This guy is Dick Tracy as a patrol cop. Even the character's name is serious in that Jack Webb kind of way…how could an upright, forthright, Dudley Do-Right kinda guy like Officer Jim Reed, badge number 2430, ever be mixed up in tomfoolery or shenanigans? Just as well, I suppose, since Reed and his partner, the also-serious (but not quite as serious as Reed) Officer Pete Malloy (Martin Milner), badge number 744, haven't got that much time for tomfoolery, aside from the usual joshing with the boys back at Rampart. No, down the mean streets of Los Angeles two serious men must go who are not themselves mean, who are neither tarnished nor afraid; as they confront purse snatchers, smugglers, drug fiends, stick-up men, burglars, hopheads, drunks, and assorted other menaces to society…and always with the calm, polite, professional demeanor we've come to expect from the dedicated public servants in the Mark VII City of Angels.
Adam-12 is comfort food, and Season Five does nothing to buck the trend. You pretty much know what you're gonna get…good, solid, exciting, no-frills entertainment seeped in the attention to detail that Jack Webb always insisted on. Most of the episodes tend to be 'slice-of-life' type stories, with the officers confronting a wide variety of crimes and crisis situations while on Patrol (with Frank Comstock's driving score behind the action); though a few episodes, such as "Anatomy of a 415," focus in on a situation that dominates the episode…in this case, an escalating domestic disturbance that turns to tragedy by the episode's end. As you might expect from a Jack Webb production, a few episodes read as morality plays, such as "Easy Rap," which concerns Reed and Malloy's efforts to reach a teenaged car thief who always manages to escape punishment. And this season even brings a crossover with the cast of Emergency!. Sure, the acting and dialogue might be a little hokey by today's standards (meaning the characters don't curse and swear every five minutes), but the fact that police departments even today use episodes of Adam-12 (and Dragnet, for that matter) as training tools is a testament to the incredible level of technical accuracy and procedural realism of these shows. In point of fact, certain episodes are specifically structured to allow the audience to understand how some of the seldom-seen internal functions of the police department work, such as in "Suspended," when Reed must face a shooting review board after his judgment is called into question when an off-duty mugging turns deadly. Don't get me wrong, you've still got car chases and gunfights and such as that, but by the book, man, by the book!
Shout! Factory has done their usual outstanding job in bringing all 24 episodes of the 1972-73 season of this venerable cop show to DVD in style. The picture is sharp and clear, with no hint of dirt or grain. The sound is the best you could expect from a forty year-old show, with no distortion. Sure, it's a bare-bones set, and at least some commentary from McCord and Milner would have been nice, but all things considered, this is a fantastic package that offers an optimal viewing experience.
Frankly, I find Adam-12, and Dragnet and Emergency!, a breath of fresh air. These are shows that idealize, perhaps, but they don't glamorize. After watching Adam-12, it seems that you walk away with more of a feel of what the average patrol cop's day is like. Can you say that about CHiPs or T.J. Hooker? Only if you think the average patrol cop spends his day leaping from explosions and pulling dateable single mothers from flaming car wrecks. In which case, you could stand to watch a little Adam-12. Get yourself to a video store Code 3. Me, I'm Code 7.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
Review content copyright © 2010 Maurice Cobbs; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.