Thursday, March 27, 2008


What American male between the ages of thirty-nine and fifty-five doesn’t smile at the phrase, “One Adam 12, One Adam 12, 211 in progress.” Yes, that’s one of the signature lines from the classic TV show Adam-12 and I’ll admit that it holds a special place in my heart. It may even be one of the reasons I turned to a career in police work (Although I can point specifically to Police Story as being the main reason I became interested in the field).

Created by Jack Webb, Adam-12 ran from 1968 through 1975 and aired 174 episodes. It was a simple premise; follow the lives of two uniformed LAPD cops, veteran Pete Malloy, played by Martin Milner and rookie Jim Reed, played by Kent McCord. The show was a drama without a lot of gun play. There were long conversations between the cops while on patrol and encounters with all sorts of odd and interesting characters off the street. A lot like real police work.

Adam-12 is listed as writer Stephen J. Cannell’s first permanent writing job when he joined the show in its fourth season. I remember it as the first TV show I watched and cared about. In fact, when the local NBC station changed the airing time to past my bedtime I was moved to write a letter to the station. Back then there were only three channels and we were a long way from VCRs, not to mention DVRs. You watched a show when it aired and 9:30 on Thursdays was not a time I was allowed to be in front of the TV. The irony of it is that 9:30 at night is once again past my bedtime. At least now I have the flexibility of just touching a button on the DVR to watch something at my convenience. If not for the DVR I would not have seen a Saturday Night Live in a couple of years and thought Dana Carvey was still hilarious on it.

The beauty of hundreds of cable TV stations allows me to occasionally see old shows I loved. I discovered that F-Troop was not nearly as funny as I thought when I was six-years-old. Dark Shadows is not as scary. Even my old favorite Adam-12 is a little dated, slogging through dialog that seems wooden and situations that are dull at best. But I prefer to remember it as I did as a child; exciting and fresh, pointing me to career which I have found rewarding and interesting.

What shows influenced you? Can you still see them on Nick at Night?


  1. And for all you Adam 12 trivia experts. Remember when they called in on the radio? They always said, "One, Adam, twelve." The one represents their division number (Central Division), the Adam describes the type of car they were in (A=two-person patrol vehicle). The 12 represents the beat to which they were assigned.

  2. Re: Adam 12

    Officer Jim Reed (Kent McCord): "You just have to know how to arrest them and still make them like you. We call it technique."

    Jimbo, do you make use of this technique?

  3. I, too, LOVED Adam-12 as a kid. Also Perry Mason. My very favorite was Batman, which REALLY doesn't hold up as well as the first two.

  4. The Dick Van Dyke Show, Jackie Gleason, Mission:Impossible and the Twilight Zone. You can catch Rob and Laura, and Rod Serling streaming over Netflix. Both of the shows hold up pretty well. But then I always had a thing for Mary Tyler Moore.

    Speaking of Jack Webb, what I remember about Dragnet was the way he minced when he walked, the hysterically reactionary scripts (especially about hippies and drugs), and the way Jack and Harry Morgan had to sit close together on that sedan's bench seat so they could both be on camera. They looked like two old lovers reliving prom night.

  5. Nice post, Paul.

    And here I would have thought that most guys of that generation became cops because of Sergeant Leann "Pepper" Anderson--or Angie Dickinson, who played her in Police Woman.

    Among all the non-mystery shows (M*A*S*H*, Happy Days, etc, et al) of that era and slightly later (Gomer Pyle doesn't hold up well, either), I always loved the NBC Mystery Movies. As well, in seventh grade when we were supposed to do a A/V slide show for English class, I offered up the idea of a detective named "Cannonball" to my group--and they ran with it. It's a lot easier to draw a picture of a cannonball with a bushy mustache and eyebrows on clear slides than a person--and you can guess how he caught the bad guys.

    Of course, I'm sure that William Conrad wouldn't have appreciated such a tribute. ;o)

  6. I don't suppose it will surprise anyone to know I was a huge Beverly Hillbillies fan.

    Oh, and Wild Wild West. Don't know if it's on TVLand or whatever, but I was chatting with a friend the other day who mentioned he'd just gotten the DVD set for the WWW fourth season. Lucky bastard.

    Twilight Zone...definiteley. But remember the spinoff: Night Gallery? That had some really creepy stuff.

    I really can't believe no one's mentioned original Trek yet.

  7. Good shows all.

    I watch Star Trek now but not as a kid.

    Patty, thanks for explaining the code. That's cool.

    I'm in HOuston right now.


  8. My mother was a huge fan of police dramas and mysteries so I grew up watching shows like Mannix, The Streets of San Francisco, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, Barretta, Police Woman, Swat,etc. I can also remember watching shows like Hart to Hart. I used to wonder why anyone would remain friends with these people because the moment they were coming to visit you one of two things were going to happen- you were going to die or someone close to you was going to die and you would be implicated in the murder. Oh no, the Harts are coming!!

  9. My fav was It Takes a Thief, which might have something to say about what I read and right.

    A lot of the shows you folks have mentioned are available for FREE over Air Wolf, Hart to Hart, I Spy, Hitchcock Hour, Addams Family.......way too many to list here.

  10. how about "write" (hate having to sit in meeting, interfers with my web-surfing)