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S.W.A.T.: The Complete First Season (1975) – DVD Review

S.W.A.T.: The Complete First Season


Series Created by Robert Hamner
Starring Steve Forrest, Rod Perry, Robert Urich, Mark Shera, James Coleman


  • Contains all thirteen first season episodes

Released by: Columbia TriStar.
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Skip It.

In response to the increase in violent crime during the 60s and 70s, the average patrolman wasn’t up to dealing with snipers, hostage negotiation, or protecting V.I.P.s. These duties fall to S.W.A.T (Special Weapons And Tactics) teams. Capt. Dan “Hondo” Harrelson (Forrest) heads one such team with his loyal second in command Sgt. David “Deacon” Kay (Perry). With Officer Jim Street (Urich), Dominic Luca (Shera), and T.J. McCabe (Coleman), this tight knit band battles criminals with paramilitary training, assault rifles and a funky 70s theme song.

[ad#longpost]I knew there was something wrong with S.W.A.T., but I couldn’t place my finger on it. After thinking on it a while, it hit me. There were no Miranda warnings. In thirteen episodes, not once where these supposed police officers arrested someone (assuming there weren’t shot dead), they never said that mantra to individual rights “You have the right to remain silent…” Now I understand that you have to sacrifice reality for good drama. When Capt. Harrelson traded himself for a hostage, I checked and that never happened. But it makes for some dramatic tension and nobody was saying this was supposed to be realistic anyway.. And in its time it was a fairly popular show even though it lasted only two seasons.

But modern audiences who have been exposed to Hill Street Blues, Law & Order, and The Shield, not to mention all the real-life crime shows on cable, expect a lot more. The plots are downright goofy. One episode had a shadowy crime figure hire an assassin to kill a senator opposed to legalizing gambling, but the assassin has pneumonic plague and is spreading it through the city. Huh? Another has students who manage to get into a highly secured chemical lab and cause it to almost blow up by flipping a few switches. What? Weak writing and over-the-top acting simply puts the final nail in the coffin. There’s not even the guilty pleasure you get from watching CHiPs or Charlie’s Angels. It’s just boring and really, really dated.

We all know they released this DVD set to capitalize on the premiere of a big-budget version of S.W.A.T. when it hit cinemas. But they missed an opportunity with the lack of special features. Without them, there’s nothing to contextualize the series to counteract how dated it is, or to explain where they got these wild plot ideas from. Without that, unless you’re a hardcore fan, I’d give this one a wide berth.

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