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Watching this show as a teenager, Julie was my idol; hip, intelligent,
beautiful, with a cool job, great clothes, and hot guy friends.
Seriously, Mod Squad was a well-done show with interesting characters. When Aaron Spelling, with Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard, ran the show, it was very good. Later, when Harve Bennett replaced Spelling, it went down a bit, but was still worth watching just for the stars: Michael Cole, Clarence Williams III, and Peggy Lipton. No insult intended for the stars of the movie, but these three will always be the Mod Squad, with Tige Andrews as Captain Greer. I would still rather watch episodes of the show than the movie.
For a young girl living in a small town, Mod Squad was a window into another world, giving me a glimpse of life outside my boundaries. What I learned about being cool back then, I learned from Julie Barnes.
When this show first premiered in 1968, little did anyone know that over the next three decades that there would be several youth oriented shows. Shows like "21 Jumpstreet", "Starsky and Hutch" and "David Cassidy-Man Undercover" were all cop shows aimed at the youth market, but this was the granddaddy of them all. Michael Cole, Peggy Lipton and Clarence Williams III were perfectly cast and this show will always come to represent the era that it was produced in.
Its premise was exactly this: Three teenagers who get into trouble with the law and help out others out of trouble by solving crimes with the help out the Lieutenant(played by Tige Andrews) who keeps one step ahead of everything they do. Out of all the Aaron Spelling shows that he ever produced this was one of the best ever(which is second to "Starsky and Hutch" and his earlier works too including the long forgotten detective show "Burke's Law"). Three teenagers from different backgrounds were basically detectives in their own way in getting the bad guys. The concept of this show was just that: kids ratting on kids,and going undercover to break up drug busts or sometimes save a girl from great danger. Pete, Linc,and Julie were the kids of their generation and it will never be a show like it ever. The show itself had some of the grooviest fashions ever from that period along with the stylings of the Afro and its standard of unity for all. The show was a top ten hit when it ran on ABC from 1968-1973. The executive producers were Danny Thomas(of Make Room for Daddy fame),and Sheldon Leonard(who was also producing I Spy and Andy Griffith at the time)and they kept the story lines with great action and one of the best crime drama shows ever to come out of that era. The guest stars who appear on the show were making their mark during its run with stars like Richard Dreyfuss, Richard Pryor, Michael Douglas,and Karen Black. Was one of the hippest ever....catch the episodes on videocassette if you can..
As a teenager I thought that Mod Squad was one of the coolest shows around. The three friends with their youth, enthusiasm, and beauty fighting crime. They were young people who got in trouble with the law, who got themselves out of trouble and now helped others in the same situation. Michael Cole (General Hospital) "Pete Cochran" stole a car; Clarence Williams III (Twin Peaks) "Linc Hayes"was arrested during riots and gorgeous "Julie Barnes" Peggy Lipton (Twin Peaks) ran away from her San Francisco home. I was fascinated by their fashionable counterculture outfits and the entire idea of the show. It was the sixties and that a cool way to be. There have been movies made for the big screen based on the series. I never cease to be amazed to see how many series Aaron Spelling has produced that had such an impact on my teenagers and young adult years. I enjoyed that type of series as an adolescent.
I write this commentary not as someone reminiscing about a show that
they watched as a kid or adolescent; that reflected the era they grew
up in - as many do on here, but as someone who discovered the show a
generation later. I was not born until 1972 - so just as the show was
ending its successful run. I didn't see the MOD Squad until it was
shown as a rerun in the UK (where i was born and raised) in the late
90's/early 2000's. From memory it was on at 1.30 in the afternoon and I
watched it during a brief period of unemployment. From reading episode
synopsis' on several sites, it must have been season 4 I was watching.
What I remember thinking was - what a cool premise. Three kids from
conflicting backgrounds, anti-establishment, setting aside their
differences, working together to help others. Yes, the cover is that
they are working as young cops, ultimately to solve crimes but, to me,
the show had a much more philanthropic message. At a torrid time in the
USA and the world as a whole, the show commented on things such as
Vietnam, race, social injustice - things that were actually quite risky
for a mainstream TV show to be commenting on at the time. One thing
that really sticks out is an episode where a soldier has just returned
from Vietnam. Pete firmly shakes his hand and welcomes him home - in a
time and a USA where returning veterans were, generally, not welcomed.
The villains weren't always clear cut villains - it wasn't a case of
black and white - the show exposed the fact that there are always
several shades of grey in between; that there are often human tragedies
lurking beneath the surface. The show had a lot of angst, the central
characters Pete, Linc and Julie often having to examine their
consciences; being faced with making difficult decisions. However,
amongst all this, they always had each other. Maybe I am looking at
this through rose tinted glasses but what I have really enjoyed through
rewatching the newly released to DVD season 1, is the fact that these
three 'kids' really care for each other; look out for each other - are
always THERE for each other. Was it really like that at the time? Well,
I like to think so - I think people were more neighbourly and mindful
of each other back then. Is it like that now - sadly...no. I wish I
could say it was but I really can't say it is. And this is from someone
who did not live through that era - I was born to it but the world had
changed a great deal by the time I was old enough to really start
taking notice. I really hope that the distributors have had enough
success with the release of the two season 1 DVD's to warrant a release
of the subsequent 4 seasons. I know its all about profitability -
sadly. But I think a lot of people would really appreciate this show -
not only those who remember it first time around but perhaps those who
enjoyed the reruns in latter years and, who knows, there may well be a
new audience waiting amongst the generation of today. I can't think of
any other show at the time that gives such an accurate social
commentary of the time and if I was pointing anyone in the direction of
a memorable show from that era to reflect ' how it really was' that
would be the one.
And boy......Was Pete Cochran ever sexy!!!!
The Mod Squad centered around three youthful cops, that were recruited
to the LA police force in the late 60s. This show was truly
cutting-edge as a concept back then. Three cool, under thirty hipsters
as cops?? Yep! And it worked, because this was one of the most popular
crime dramas of all-time.
The Mod Squad included Pete Cochran, a rich kid looking for kicks, who runs afoul of the law. Then there's Linc Hayes, a black ghetto youth who's struggling to survive, and gets himself busted. Lastly, there's Julie, a gorgeous young woman who suffers from a sad home life, and flees it. She too gets wrapped-up in law-breaking. Instead of throwing these three offenders in the clink, Capt. Greer has the idea of making them undercover cops, as long as they all agree to obey the law from then on.
Linc, Pete, and Julie were the coolest cops on TV in the late 60s. They all dressed in the latest 60s youth fashions, used hip lingo, and had the street-smarts necessary to do their jobs, as cops in the urban jungle of LA. The three were almost like a family, with Capt. Greer looking out for them like a kindly father would.
By working together in harmony, the Mod Squad showed that the societal chasms of race, class, gender, and even generational strife, could be overcome. It may have been an idealistic vision, but then the 60s were an idealistic period. It was so positive to see the three very different Mod Squad members, have a cooperative working relationship, despite their differences. They set an example, that folks could strive to follow in real life.
I highly recommend the Mod Squad, and not only for those who are nostalgic for the 60s. It's simply a quality show, enjoyable for all ages. Like Linc Hayes would say, it's 'solid man'.
I could see why Peggy Lipton became a star from this television show. She captures the role of Julie perfectly with a range of vulnerability and innocence in the role. Peggy Lipton's performance as Julie is believable in this somewhat unbelievable series. Anyway the series may be dated but there are plenty of surprise guest appearances. The other actors like Michael Cole, Clarence Williams, and Tige Andrews complete the male dominated cast. Each episode features a mystery to solve but without the gore and violence of today's crime dramas. The Mod Squad is largely more character driven than plot and action driven. Plenty of guests are familiar faces on television. The Mod Squad are three very different individuals whose lives are turned around by a police captain. He gives them a second chance in redemption and becoming unlikely police officers. I love the California scenery. The show was a hit largely because of the chemistry among the cast members and the time period for audiences. To see African Americans and Caucasians interact was still a new experience on television but not in reality. This show was caught up in the hype of the late sixties and early seventies of the counterculture. This show didn't shy away from controversial issues as well.
As I'm re-watching the series on DVD, two things stand out to me:
* It's very much of its' late 1960s time with the counter-culture and all. But it's amazing to me that three full-time undercover cops have so much time to not do, well, cop things. They seem to start their own cases all the time instead of being assigned what you'd expect undercover cops to do... long-time stake outs of drug dens and such. They're being paid for something but they're always just living a teenage life and crime just happens to show up while they're doing it.
* The fact that Julie apparently can't do anything to defend anyone except running for Linc and Pete just grates my nerves. She sees trouble, she screams, and she runs for help. There were some strong women in the 1960s -- nobody messed with Kitty on "Gunsmoke" -- but "Mod Squad" isn't there. It would be a decade before a show like "Cagney and Lacey" hit the airwaves but it was desperately needed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Great show. Back when I was in high school,it was like, "Did you see Mod Squad last night?" Perfect casting. For some reason, I was never really hot for Julie...she always seemed tired...maybe Peggy Lipton was stoned all the time. But she was definitely cool. Lots of girls looked just like her back then...they all had drippy personalities but were total nymphos. Pete was very cool...the way he talked, his attitude...but he ran like a girl. Linc was a bad dude...I heard he did most of his own stunts.I like how he ran down criminals using an angle, like in football. Then, he slammed them against the wall. He had this blank stare with those shades...solid. Back in 1982 when I was teaching special ed., I had a teacher's aide named Ms. Wiley...she looked just like Linc Hayes..huge Afro, blank stare... all the kids were scared of her. Adam Grier...good actor..was the glue that kept the Mod Squad focused...one tough cop. Glad I bought the complete series DVD.
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