Adam-12: On The Beat With L.A. Cops In Changing Times

By | July 18, 2018

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Kent McCord as Officer James A. Reed, and Martin Milner as Officer Peter J. Malloy in the TV show Adam 12 (ran 1968-1975). Undated. Source: Bettmann/Getty

On the TV police drama Adam-12, Martin Milner and Kent McCord played two beat cops in Los Angeles in the late '60s and early '70s. The series purported to be a dramatic recounting of actual cases investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The show chronicled the daily shifts of Officers Pete Malloy (Milner) and Jim Reed (McCord) as they served to protect the city's streets in their patrol unit, 1-Adam-12.

The show was one of the last to depict uniformed cops as its central good guys. Televised police dramas in the years since have focused on special units, undercover work, detectives, and other specialized law enforcement officers -- regular policemen driving black-and-white patrol cars on the beat, responding to local crimes or emergencies, seemed less interesting as audiences hungered for mystery or psychological plot elements.

From The Team That Brought You Dragnet

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Jack Webb wasn't just one of the lead actors in the detective show Dragnet -- he was also its co-creator (with Robert Cinader). Dragnet had begun as a radio show in 1949, then expanded to TV in 1951 (while still continuing on radio). Dragnet ended its first TV run in 1959, but returned in 1967. With Dragnet back on the air, and again a hit, Webb and his production company Mark VII Limited set about creating Adam-12. The series aired after Dragnet and shared its “names were changed to protect the innocent” claim. Adam-12 first aired in 1968 and ran through mid-1975.

Mark VII had one more show -- the fire and rescue series Emergency! All three took place in the same Los Angeles setting, and the series had numerous crossover episodes.