The Rookies and S.W.A.T.

The Rookies(1972-1976)
S.W.A.T. (1975-1976)
Type: Spin Off

   I loved both of these shows when I was a kid. Of course this should be taken worth a grain of salt since at the time I loved them I was about 4 or 5 and all it took for me to love a show was a kick ass theme song behind a great credit sequence. Past that I largely lost track. I was five, they were hour long dramas... But they those opening sequences, ooh baby. So, with that shameful admission out of the way, on to business.

   The Rookies was, to state the obvious, a 70's cop show. But "70's cop show" says a lot. It says a show is gritty with some good action, violence and edge. And given the title you can guess it was about new cops, rookies. It was about three cops, to be precise, new to the force of a Southern California city (gee, looked a lot like L.A.) and learning the ropes. So it wasn't just "bang bang" shoot'em ups by harden cops. It was green officers thrown into action that would probably scare the crap out of them and get their pulses pounding. It upped the stakes a little in terms of dramatic tension that way. If you still don't have the feel for this show, you should also know it was an Aaron Spelling production - the man who put the heat and excitement into Melrose Place and about a zillion other shows. So, just like he upped the ante on prime time soap operas, in this case he pushed police dramas that one step further.

   And it worked. It was a solid success, one of many for Mr. Spelling in the 70's. And Spelling isn't exactly known for passing up a chance to expand on a success. So in February of 1975 on a special two hour episode of The Rookies, one of the three rookies - Officer Terry Webster played by George Stanford Brown - ended up working with a unit of the police known as S.W.A.T. - the Special Weapons And Tactics team. On the show and in real life S.W.A.T. teams are the police forces heavy artillery guys - the big guys you call in when a situation is way out of control. Well, after one adventure with S.W.A.T. Officer Webster was out and the next week S.W.A.T. was a show of its own, hopefully drawing some of the Rookies audience with it.

   The weird thing is even though S.W.A.T. is totally ingrained in my brain (again the good opening sequence thing) it actually only went a season. Why? Well part of the problem might be the very setup. I mean everybody... most people... like action in their cop shows. But we are talking the MOST violent cop team around. That means a lot of tough limit pushing action pumped into people's houses every week. And on top of that you have to keep coming up with plots that warrant such action on a weekly basis. I mean, come on, in the real world S.W.A.T. is needed a couple times a year maybe. But 22-some times a year? What crime ridden hell hole of a city would need that? Oh yeah... it sorta looked like L.A. Heh heh.

   But really, it was a little too much, too many huge incidence needing the big guns. Think about it this way. A film about a team of guys stopping a meteor from destroying the world is a cool idea... a cool enough they made two movies with that premise. But would you buy Armageddon: The Series where each week another meteor had to be dealt with? Nope. Now S.W.A.T. is called into play more than a meteor strike force but I think you get the idea. So after a season S.W.A.T. killed everybody that might be dangerous or even cranky I guess, collected their pensions and headed to cancellation city.

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