When Jack Webb decided to shine a spotlight on the beat cops of LA, he created Adam-12.
The show featured veteran officer Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) and his novice (and later fellow veteran) partner Jim Reed (Kent McCord) handling the every day street work of two uniformed officers under the direction of their supervisor Sgt. MacDonald (William Boyett) and sometimes with the help of fellow officers Wells (Gary Crosby) and Woods (Fred Stromsoe). They received calls from real-life LA dispatcher Shaaron Claridge (I love it when she denies them a dinner break; her word is law!).
Unlike Dragnet, viewers weren’t treated to one case seen all the way to completion. Instead they got what beat cops got: sent out on several calls during the episode with no follow-up later on. And though there were some high-action, dangerous episodes, there were a lot of episodes that featured the every day, mundane calls that every cop in uniform has handled: traffic stops, domestic disputes over the stupidest things, theft calls in which there was no theft, lonely old ladies needing someone to talk to, nosy ladies constantly ratting on their neighbors.
My favorite was the two ladies fighting over a bruised melon. One wanted the other one arrested for taking it out of the store without paying for it and the other one wanted the owner to get into trouble for selling crap fruit. Malloy had a look of pure “You have GOT to be kidding me” during the whole thing.
You also had the pleasure of watching Malloy and Reed’s relationship develop from student-mentor to true partners. The chemistry between the two was fantastic and the good-natured ribbing is real. Married Reed could be quite dedicated to convincing bachelor Malloy to join the club sometimes.
Like Dragnet before it and Emergency! after it, the show did wonders to boost the public’s understanding of how those jobs paid for by the taxpayers, this one being uniformed officers, worked. It was as much instructional as it was entertaining and I believe episodes are still shown to police officers as examples of how to handle certain situations.
As this was a Jack Webb show, several of his regulars showed up, including: Virginia Gregg (of course!), Burt Mustin, and James McEachin. Marco Lopez, Tim Donnelly, Bobby Troup, Ron Pinkard, and Randolph Mantooth all appeared in episodes as non-Emergency! characters (Kevin Tighe, Julie London, and Robert Fuller made their appearances during the cross-over episode “Lost and Found”). For Emergency! fans, the episode “Log 88-Reason to Run” is a highlight because Randolph Mantooth, Marco Lopez, and Tim Donnelly are all in it, though none of them share a scene. Fun!
Other familiar faces that popped up during the seven season run include: Larry Linville; Maidie Norman; my favorite guest-star J. Pat O’Malley; Frank Sinatra Jr; June Lockhart; Rose Marie; Jean Allison; Butch Patrick; Ellen Corby (before she was Grandma Walton); Keye Luke; future teen idols Willie Aames, David Cassidy, and Barry Williams; baby versions of Ed Begley Jr, Tim Matheson, and A Martinez; Karen Black; Cloris Leachman as a real crap mother; Tony Dow; Angela Cartwright; Barbara Hale; Robert Conrad sans Ross Martin (unless he was in disguise somewhere); George Murdock;
*takes a deep breath*
Micky Dolenz not Monkee-ing around; Harry Dean Stanton (who never looked young); Lindsay Wagner before she was Bionic; Sharon Gless; Scatman Crothers; Vitto Scotti because he was in everything; Dabbs Greer; Dick Clark; Brucke Kirby; Jo Anne Worley playing another roller derby girl; Mark Harmon; Mark Harmon’s sister Kristin Nelson; and Kent McCord’s daughter Kristen.
It was a good guest-breeding ground.
This is one of those shows that I only had the opportunity to start watching recently. And I’m grateful for that. I’ve developed quite the soft spot for Jack Webb and company shows anyway, but as a cop’s kid, this is one I can really relate to.
It also gave me the greatest intoxication measure ever.
‘Cause that’s drunk.