- 6 Seasons
S.W.A.T. is a gripping action-drama series that aired on ABC from 1975 to 1976. It stars notable actor Steve Forrest, known for his brooding charisma and commanding screen presence, in the lead role. Conceived at a time when crime dramas were gaining popularity, S.W.A.T. effectively marries suspense, drama, and action with episodic storytelling that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.
In the series, Forrest plays character Lt. Dan "Hondo" Harrelson, the zealous leader of an elite division of the Los Angeles Police Department - the Special Weapons And Tactics (S.W.A.T.) team. His squad consists of five hand-picked, highly-trained officers with distinct personalities and backgrounds. They are charged with tackling high-risk situations that go beyond the scope of conventional policing, where their specialized skills are put to the rigorous test. From hostage situations to bomb threats, from gang violence to armed robbery, each episode presents a unique mission, adding to the unpredictability and variation in plotlines.
While Forrest's Lt. Hondo forms the ethical and dramatic heart of the show, his team includes Sgt. David "Deacon" Kay, played brilliantly by Rod Perry, an African American actor who was a standout performer of his time. The rest of the squad comprises Officer Jim Street (Robert Urich), Officer Dominic Luca (Mark Shera), and Officer T.J. McCabe (James Coleman). The interplay between these characters, their camaraderie, and the occasional clash of ideals contributes to the deeper narrative undercurrents that make the show more than just a typical police drama.
The series doesn't shy away from exploring the personal lives of the characters, intertwining their off-duty experiences with the challenges of their adrenaline-charged profession. The character development is done in a way that cuts through the surface level, reflecting their evolving perspectives and engagement with the demanding realities surrounding law enforcement.
S.W.A.T. also has a knack for portraying the complex relationship between the police force and the public, with its substantial share of triumphs and complications. The writers delicately balance the portrayal of S.W.A.T. as part of the solution and occasionally being perceived as part of the problem. This nuance adds another dimension to the narrative, keeping it relevant and rooted in reality.
Visually, S.W.A.T. packs a punch with its gritty ambiance and realistic portrayal of the 70s era's urban socio-political landscape. The series embraced the cinema vérité style, shooting on location in real streets, buildings, and neighborhoods of Los Angeles. This gives the series an authentic feel and enhances the atmosphere of suspense and intense realism that complements the show's content.
Despite being a period piece, the issues and themes explored in S.W.A.T., such as the dynamics of power, human resilience, and the conflicts between duty and morality, still resonate today. Coupled with strong performances, well-crafted storylines, and intense action sequences, it's not surprising that the series still maintains a cult following among fans of classic television.
The show also boasts a remarkably iconic theme, composed by Barry De Vorzon and performed by Rhythm Heritage, which became a popular hit and has been recognized as one of TV's unforgettable tunes. The music and other elements of S.W.A.T.'s production design contribute to the distinctive feel and identity of the series, making it a unique offering in the cannon of 70s TV shows.
Although S.W.A.T. only ran for two seasons, its impact on popular culture is undeniable. It was one of the first shows to feature a S.W.A.T. team as the protagonist, inspiring a slew of similar dramas in the years to follow. It's a pioneering series that set the tone for a genre of police procedural dramas that would become a mainstay in television.
In totality, S.W.A.T. remains a highlight of Steve Forrest's career and a trailblazer in its genre. Its blend of high-stakes action, dynamic character relationships, and riveting drama still holds the power to engage and entertain viewers decades after its original airing. The show's legacy continues with a modern-day reboot, a testament to its enduring influence and popularity.
S.W.A.T. is a series that is currently running and has 6 seasons (130 episodes). The series first aired on February 24, 1975.