This was my favorite show as a kid! It's one of the best of the '70s cop shows, and never fully got the recognition it deserved. It gave the audience a look at a police unit many didn't even know existed at the time. Aaron Spelling and Robert Hamner showed them as a group of men who had to depend on each other and work as a team in very difficult situations.
Back then, people WANTED to see action shows, but the writers still had a lot of restrictions on content and visuals. What's called `violence' in this show you can find in children's television these days. This show managed to get the violence of crime across without the gore most shows rely on today.
SWAT also had a very good ensemble cast. Steve Forrest (as Lt. Harrelson) obviously had a bit more to do, but the writers did a great job of showing the personal and professional sides of all the characters. In the '70s, these shows were truly episodic - there were no story arcs or follow-ups to an episode, unless, of course, it was a two-parter. A story began, developed, and wrapped in an hour. Yet, the writers managed to give some depth to these characters (and the actors something to work with) from time to time.
Robert Urich (Jim Street) was a good actor, and I think because he was considered the `GQ' man of the group, he was given a bit more screen time than the others. I absolutely loved him in `Vegas'. Rod Perry (`Deacon Kay'), Mark Shera (`Dominic Luca' - the object of MY personal teenage crush), and James Coleman (`T.J. McCabe') ALL gave consistently good performances and delivered in every episode.
In my opinion, SWAT is a great example of '70s police action episodic television. And personally, I'm VERY glad they've put it on DVD.
S.W.A.T was a spin-off off the other great police drama of the 1970s - "The Rookies" SWAT told the stories of an elite police unit called Special Weapons and Tactics Unit or S.W.A.T for short.
They handled situations to dangerous for the regular police.
The show was very violent for the time and the SWAT officers were more violent than the criminals they were going against.
What was cool about this show was the title music which hit the TOP 10 in 1975 and the team scrambling into their truck, speeding to a scene, and then rushing into action. They did it without the body armor and helmets we see such officers wear today.
When I kid, my friends and I would play SWAT and today I wish I could watch the repeats.
Without the theme music and action it would be a run of the mill police show.
I wish that they would make shows like this today. I don't know about everyone else my age but I'm sick of these shows today like CSI, Cops, N.Y.P.D. BLUE etc. We see that on the news every night. I'm ready for shows to become fun again! And who wants to see blood and guts during dinner? But anyway S.W.A.T. has a wonderful cast, great action and is worth a look for fans of Starsky & Hutch and The Rookies.
S.W.A.T. was my favorite show that came out of the 70's and I still enjoy it as much today as I did back then since it was shown on TVLand for a month and now the first season has been released on DVD. I read all these reviews saying that the show doesn't transcend to today but I think that is totally wrong. My teenage boys think the show is as cool as I did back in the 70's, I have yet to sit down and watch an episode without one of them coming in to watch with me. I only hope that the second season is also released on DVD because there are episodes in the second season that I haven't seen since the show originally aired.
I only had a few complaints with the show, one is that they would change details from one season to the next without explanation, such as in the first season TJ was engaged but in the second he was out dating again. That seemed to happen a lot on shows in the 70's.
My major complaint with the show was that it seemed to focus mainly on the character of Hondo. Each episode seemed to make him out to be the hero, instead of ever letting one of the other members of the team get any glory.
All in all I think this was a great tv show that never got the praise it deserved.
As a kid growing up in the seventies, I just couldn't wait for the next episode of swat. Came on after the Bay City Rollers. I know the younger folks probably think of this show as kind of goofy or something, but I believe its better than some of the cop shows we have today. Todays shows are very much more violent and I wouldn't let children watch them. Great theme song, M-16s and a big blue van. Wow!! These guys always got their man, and the issues they handled sometimes went with the time which the show ran. Steve Forrest was great, as was the rest of the team. I have the first season DVD set and hope they produce the second season. I hope TV Land brings this series back soon.
"When you need help, you call the police. But when the police needs help, they call S.W.A.T." I vividly remember this tag used to advertise this then-new TV crime drama, which debut in 1974 when I was 13.
Having watched a number of detective and conventional police crime dramas on television, S.W.A.T. was indeed a different type a crime-drama TV series about the quasi-military arm of the Los Angeles police department, assigned to respond to extreme/emergency situations. The show became an instant hit, with its theme song even becoming one as well on many radio stations during the mid-seventies.
A strong cast lead by Steve Forrest, who plays the stern, level-headed Lt. Dan "Hondo" Harrelson--and featuring Rod Perry as "Deacon" Kay, his loyal right-hand man, Marc Shera as Officer Dominic Luca, the free-spirited Italian, James Coleman as Officer T.J. MaCabe, the expert marksman, and Robert Urich, as the no-nonsense young Officer Jim Street--provides solid and intriguing drama that would hold the TV viewers' attention in almost every episode.
However, I recently viewed the series again in re-runs on TVLand, and as a middle-aged man now instead of a young teenager, I've become a bit more critical. When watching the series now, it seems quite unrealistic how in certain episodes a S.W.A.T. team member had personal connections to an individual who was involved in a particular case that the S.W.A.T. team responded to.
In one episode, T.J. reunites with his former high-school basketball teammate and introduces him to the other members of the S.W.A.T. team. Later that evening, T.J.'s buddy, who's now a pro basketball player, plays a basketball game at the local arena and thugs kidnap his team. They hold the players hostage in the locker room, and you can guess--by the strangest coincidence--what particular law enforcement unit comes to the rescue.
In another episode, a college professor of a university is also held hostage by extremists with the S.W.A.T. team responding to the emergency. Interestingly enough, the professor just happens to be Street's instructor of a course that he's is currently taking in night school at the university.
Yet in spite of these "Hollywoodish" moments, the show still holds up fairly well after 35 years. It can still captivate TV audiences with its action-packed, dramatic moments and provides sufficient entertainment to merit viewing.
The movie was pretty good too, so I bought the Season One DVD series. The 1st review here was right on accurate! Ditto everything he said! The TV series seems to have been well reflected in the Movie, even the character names are the same. Some of the TV show scenarios wound up in the movie also.
The short-lived television series "S.W.A.T." was another successful action-packed police dramas that came from powerhouse television producer Aaron Spelling,and under the creation of Rick Husky, Lee Stanley,and Robert Hammer. Aaron Spelling served as executive producer of the series along with Leonard Goldberg under their production company Spelling-Goldberg Productions for ABC-TV. "S.W.A.T." actually was the spin-off of another successful Aaron Spelling produced series "The Rookies" where Steve Forrest was a guest star on that episode. "S.W.A.T." premiered as a mid-season replacement on ABC's prime time schedule on February 17,1975 and lasted a mere two seasons on the air until April 3,1976. A total of 37 color episodes were produced in which Season 1 consisted of 12 episodes produced airing between February 17, 1975 through May 26,1975. Season 2 consisted of 25 episodes produced airing between September 13,1975 through April 3, 1976. "S.W.A.T." basically premiered as a mid-season replacement for ABC's Monday Night Football where it faced competition between two prime-time CBS comedies "Maude",and "Rhoda"(which was the spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show),and NBC's Monday Night at the Movies. The second and final season saw the series moved from Monday nights to Saturday nights where it again faced competition from two CBS comedies "The Mary Tyler Moore Show",and "The Bob Newhart Show" which clobbered it in the ratings along with NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies.
The premise of "S.W.A.T."(Special Weapons and Tactics Unit) consisted of a group of highly skilled men that were called on to tackle cases not to mention handle dangerous situations to intense for the police to handle. These quasi-military armed men worked for the Los Angeles Police Department and were all Vietnam Veterans(that fought in Vietnam) that were called on to handle situations in a precision style manner that had to be done with split second timing in order to save lives and take down the baddies or thugs as quickly as possible and bring them to justice. The series starred veteran actor Steve Forrest(of "The Baron" television series)as Lt. Hondo Harrelson the head man of operations. His second in command was Sgt. Deacon Kay(Rod Perry),and his back up in dangerous situations were Officer T.J. McCabe(James Coleman); Officer Luca(Mark Shera); and Officer Jim Street(Robert Urich).
"S.W.A.T." brought in big time directors,big time writers for some of the great episodes,and not to mention big time guest stars in various episodes ranging Sal Mineo, Christopher George, Cameron Mitchell, to Aldo Ray, Robert Loggia, Stuart Whitman, Leslie Nielsen, Mark Slade, William Windom, Farrah Fawcett, Don Stroud, Clint Young, Robert Webber, Carl Weathers, James Darren, Susan Dey, Rose Marie, Phil Silvers, to Michael Conrad, Lesley-Anne Warren, Tom Skerritt, Belinda Tolbert, to Simon Oakland, Loni Anderson, just to name a few of the guest stars that appeared in several episodes.
The best episodes from it's First Season starts off with the groundbreaking pilot episode "The Killing Ground". The other episodes that were not only dramatic but action-packed excitement consisted of "A Coven of Killers"(Season 1,Episode 2); "Pressure Cooker"(Season 1, Episode 4); "Jungle War"(Season 1, Episode 6); "Blind Man's Bluff" (Season 1, Episode 11); "Bravo Enigma"(Season 1, Episode 8); "Death Score"(Season 1, Episode 13);and "The Sole Survivors"(Season 1, Episode 12).
The best episodes from it's Second and Final Season consisted of the two-part season opener "The Deadly Tide",Parts 1 & 2(Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2). Others included "The Vendetta"(Season 2,Episode 6); "The Running Man",Parts 1 & 2(Season 2,Episodes 16 and 17); "The Soldier On The Hill"(Season 2,Episode 23); "Kill S.W.A.T"(Season 2,Episode 3),and the final episode of the series "Officer Luca,You're Dead!"(Season 2,Episode 25).
The series was known for it's opening theme song which became a top-ten hit for the R&B/Pop group Rhythm Heritage in 1976 that were certified Gold and was Grammy nominated that same year. As far as the television series itself was concerned, it premiered in a decade that was littered with detective dramas,and police shows and it was highly criticized for it's violent content that was a rarely with cop shows of the 1970's. When "S.W.A.T." was abruptly canceled in the Spring of 1976, the powers that be over at ABC didn't waste any time for it's replacement where another successful Aaron Spelling produced cop drama "Starsky and Hutch" took over on it's Saturday night prime time slot.
**This commentary was written on January 29,2016 in commemoration with the show's 40th anniversary that was timelined to be written on February 17, 2015.
When I was a kid, that's what the viewers wanted in the police show. At the time the most realistic police show was Adam-12. In the 1960's and 1970's, Jack Webb produced the most realistic shows on television. Aaron Spelling did his thing even back then. One thing about SWAT was that they did function as a team.
I remember back in the 70s the show SWAT and its cast were introduced in an episode of The Rookies. There was one of the eager young idealistic cops in a hostage negotiation situation when along came Steve Forrest and his team and just blew hell out of the place and the criminal. That episode in the end showed just how much we need a SWAT team when they don't negotiate.
Echoing John Wayne was Steve Forrest as the SWAT team leader 'Hondo' Harrelson and part of his team was future series stars Robert Urich of Vegas, etc, and Mark Shera who joined Barnaby Jones. If you liked a lot of loud explosions SWAT or Special Weapons And Tactics was your show.
My guess is that it only lasted for two seasons because how many different ways can you blow something or shoot the crap out of a place to make it interesting. And you never got into any of the personal lives of the team really.
I think the Canadian series Flashpoint better handles the whole concept of SWAT.
This is another show that portrays policemen as super heroes. Shows like this and other Spelling/Goldberg productions such as The Rookies, T.J. Hooker and Starsky and Hutch would often portray police officers inaccurately as super heroes who rushed in and beat up the bad guys. Thank God for shows like N.Y.P.D. Blue, C.S.I. and the Law and Order franchise for bringing realism back onto television.
We'd been through "Mod Squad" and similar 'groovy' attempts at television showing us that it was awkward to be a Vietnam vet - because ALL of them were either cops or robbers. What the medium at the time was NOT showing, was that things hadn't changed since the First World War: when the troops come home, they are not the same people they were when they went away.
OK. That's something best discussed on another day.
SWAT is crap because the actors make the notion of watching paint dry exciting. It might be an early Spelling production, but it's as terrible as the 'seventies Hannah Barbera cartoons. 'Wooden' is an insult to trees.
There is NO attempt to be 'real' or even occasionally-accurate when it comes to weapons per se and why people steal/use them.
Occasional 'through-the-scope' sniper views make me want to weep. Trust me, you don't want to know.
Stories/scenarios are as hackneyed as the characters. Let's face it: pneumonic plague (?!) is not got rid of as easy as "We've been inoculated, therefore you're safe". That particular episode with 'Little Billy' surviving is, indeed, a classic.
If it weren't for the theme song being a disco hit and the level of violence (relative to the time), this show would largely be forgotten. The stories were mundane and the characters one dimensional. We had the tough-as-nails commander, the level-headed second-in-command, the ladies man, the kid, and the poor boy hunter turned marksman. Each week we were treated to some violent criminal with an automatic weapon and, "cue the music", off the guys go, leaping into their UPS truck; one shoot-out after another. Now, when I was 9 years old, I thought that was cool; but, quite frankly, the pilot was the only really interesting episode that I can recall. There were far better police shows in that era: The Rookies, Police Story, Adam 12.
The lone standout in the cast was Robert Urich. He had some charisma and was able to parlay it with his own series. The rest are pretty well forgotten.
I'm amazed that the first season is now available on dvd (due to the Samuel Jackson movie) when more deserving shows are nowhere to be seen. How about Police Story, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild, Wild West, Barney Miller, Miami Vice, Batman? The list goes on and on. If you want a shoot-em-up, watch a war film or a Die Hard movie. At least they are entertaining.
When I was a kid, I loved "S.W.A.T." and was sad when the show was canceled after only two seasons. Recently, I discovered season one of the show on Netflix and was thrilled to see the show once again. At first, I really liked the episodes but after seeing many of them I detected some silly clichés. Whenever one of the characters introduces a friend to his co-workers with the S.W.A.T. team, you could guarantee that the person would either go psycho (like Cameron Mitchell did) or they'll be kidnapped (like the basketball player and girlfriend of T.J.). This same pattern happened again and again. And, the show occasionally degenerated to such silly plots as people who are going to kidnap the beauty contestants or blow up a movie studio!! Huh?!?! What were they thinking?! I think the problem was that the S.W.A.T. team in real life is really a special occasion task force--there for some pretty insane situations. BUT, these insane situations are generally predictable and too dull for TV--such as bank robberies. So, to add spice, the show made the crimes ridiculous and outrageous--the things most S.W.A.T. teams would never dream of seeing. Aaron Spelling couldn't have the team taking out bank robbers or ending a common domestic dispute in 5 of every 6 episodes--realistic, yes, but not very exciting. So, they went the opposite direction--making the shows insanely impossible--week after week. What you are left with is NOT a show like "Dragnet" (which showed ALL the many facets of police work--the exciting and the mundane) but one that wasn't that far removed from "Charlie's Angels"--kind of mindless and entertaining. Overall, I'd say the show wasn't bad but clearly it wasn't all that good. And, what did I know--I was only 10 when the show debuted!