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By Tom Keogh

Tough but not swaggering, serious but not solemn, S.W.A.T. won over its Super70s television audience with several unexpectedly interesting elements: A degree of storytelling sophistication; visually exciting, guerrilla-like street violence; and a subtle but determined fascination with the psyches of the show's five principal characters. To a non-viewer, S.W.A.T. looked like a fatuously reassuring, law-and-order shill in the aftermath of the Vietnam war and Watergate. In reality, creator-producer Robert Hammer (a Peabody Award winner for the 1979 POW TV drama, When Hell Was in Session) managed to make an ideal, mid-'70s Aaron Spelling cop show with an extra emphasis on the human factor in peacekeeping.

Spun off from an earlier Spelling series, The Rookies, S.W.A.T. was the story of Special Weapons and Tactics, an elite branch of the Los Angeles Police Department assigned the most critical cases of urban violence in an American era of cult terrorism, snipers, assassinations, traumatized war veterans, and organized crime. Considering what the S.W.A.T. team is up against in every episode--shooters with sophisticated weaponry, psychotic revolutionaries, vulnerable takeover targets (nuclear reactors, etc.)--one might have expected the show to be swallowed up in gadgetry and fancy police protocol for extreme emergencies. But from the pilot (technically, a two-hour Rookies episode not included in this set) on, S.W.A.T. was clearly much more interested in the way team leader Lieutenant Dan "Hondo" Harrelson (Steve Forrest), Sergeant David "Deacon" Kay (Rod Perry), and officers Street (Robert Urich), Luca (Mark Shera), and McCabe (James Coleman) tried to understand the modern world even while keeping its meanest tendencies in check.

Inventive stories with occasional twists and appealing guest stars (James Keach, Cameron Mitchell, Annette O'Toole) keep one glued to the 13 episodes contained on these DVDs. Among the best: "A Coven of Killers," starring Sal Mineo as a Charles Manson-like monster; "Jungle War," featuring Mitchell as a career cop and war vet facing an emotional breakdown; and "The Bravo Enigma," an apocalyptic tale of a curiously likable hit man (Christopher George) unknowingly spreading a plague through L.A.

S.W.A.T. on DVD!
S.W.A.T. is now available on DVD! Get it at!
Season One


Share Your Memories In Our Forums!

Check out our S.W.A.T. forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other S.W.A.T. viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

Your Memories Shared!

I was watching a "Love Boat" episode on TVLand last night and Mark Shera was on it. I had pretty much forgotten the huge crush I had on him when "S.W.A.T." was originally on. I don't remember much about the episodes, except one where they were celebrating Christmas. Being from Iowa, it was hard for me to imagine it being Christmas and everything was green and sunny.


Note: This is just a random sample of the S.W.A.T. messages in our TV forums! Click here to see what others have said or to post your own comments!



Aired: February 24, 1975 - June 29, 1976

Cast: Steve Forrest, Robert Urich, James Coleman, Rod Perry, Mark Shera

Network: ABC

Genre: Police Drama

Theme song

Image courtesy of ABC

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