When Jack Webb returned to primetime television in the late 1960’s with Dragnet, he also stayed busy as a producer. One of his most enduring creations was Adam-12, a realistic cop show that became a major hit through its combination of compelling stories and detailed policework. This half-hour drama also continues to be a major cult favorite amongst cop show enthusiasts, who consider it one of the finest of its type.
Adam-12 was a spinoff from Dragnet that was built around some police characters who had appeared on that show. It focused on the day-to-day travails of Officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed as they went about their daily duties as patrolmen for the Los Angeles Police Department. Malloy was a veteran cop and Reed was a rookie, so these differing levels of experiences added an interesting spark to their working relationship.
Instead of focusing on one crime each week a la Dragnet, Adam-12 took the novel approach of tackling several cases each week. Each episode took the two men driving around the city and answering various calls for help. Some ended with laughter and some with tragedy, but they were always riveting. The show also benefited from its thoroughly realistic depiction of police procedures, which gave the show a reality that enhanced its drama.
Like Dragnet, Adam-12 was an instant hit that enjoyed a long run. As the show continued into the 1970’s, both policemen were promoted: Officer Malloy became a Policemen 3 (the closest rank to a Sergeant) and Reed went from rookie to full-fledged officer. The show eventually racked up an impressive 174 episodes before ending its run in the summer of 1975. Adam-12 also inspired another Webb-produced series, the medical drama Emergency! Periodically, both shows would feature crossovers of their characters.
Since then, lead actors Milner and McCord were reunited in a television film called Nashville Beat. Adam-12 was also remade with new actors in 1989 for a short-lived program entitled The New Adam-12. Meanwhile, the original Adam-12 continues to be a popular item in television syndication. This enduring success shows that Adam-12 can still capture the attention of viewers as well as its policemen characters capture the bad guys.
USA / NBC – Universal – Jack Webb / 174×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 21 September 1968 – 26 August 1975
Creators: Jack Webb, Robert Cinader / Producer: James Doherty
MARTIN MILNER as Officer Pete Molloy
KENT McCORD as Officer Jim Reed
WILLIAM BOYETT as Sgt McDonald
GARY CROSBY as Officer Ed Wells
SHARON CLARIDGE as Dispatcher’s Voice
WILLIAM STEVENS as Officer Jerry Walters (1968-69)
JACK HOGAN as Sgt Jerry Miller (1969)
MIKKI JAMISON as Jean Reed (1969)
CLAUDE JOHNSON as Officer Norm Green (1970-71)
FRED STROMSOE as Officer Woods (1974-75)
WILLIAM ELLIOTT as Officer Grant (1974-75)