Adam-12 is a television police drama that followed two police officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Pete Malloy and Jim Reed, as they rode the streets of Los Angeles in their patrol unit, 1-Adam-12.
Created by R. A. Cinader and Jack Webb, also known for creating Dragnet, the series starred Martin Milner and Kent McCord and captured a typical day in the life of a police officer as realistically as possible. The show originally ran from September 21, 1968, through May 20, 1975, and helped introduce police procedures and jargon to the general public in the United States.
Adam-12 featured the year-old LAPD Rampart Division station at 2710 West Temple Street as the setting for the series. However, according to the radio call sign of the unit "1-Adam-12", the patrol area was within the Central Division (Division One), which serves Downtown Los Angeles, rather than Rampart (Division Two). Many of the filming locations were in the San Fernando Valley, and the garage used tow trucks from the North Hollywood Division, close to Universal Studios which co-produced the show with Mark VII Limited. The Temple Street building was closed in 2008, as a newer and larger station now houses the Rampart Division; the old building is being renovated to serve as headquarters for LAPD's Metro Division, an elite reserve unit that includes counterterrorism andSWAT platoons.
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The designation "1-Adam-12" is a combination of three elements. The first elementINDICATES the unit's LAPD division. The second element indicates the type of unit. The third element identifies the patrol car's number. The one in 1-Adam-12 means the patrol car operates in Division 1 (Central Division). LAPD assigns two-person units the letter "A". In the LAPD phonetic alphabet, the letter "A" is spoken as "Adam". The third element is the area within the division to which they are assigned. In the program, 1-Adam-12 typically operated in the Rampart Division, Division 2, not the Central Division, Division 1, meaning the unit's call sign should have technically been 2-Adam-12. There was never an actual patrol car with the call sign of 1-Adam-12.
Adam-12 was a realistic-style police drama following the lives of two officers of the Los Angeles Police Department, veteran Police Officer III (P-3) Pete Malloy, Badge 744 (Martin Milner) and his rookie partner, probationary Police Officer I (P-1) Jim Reed, Badge 2430 (Kent McCord). Each episode of the series, like those of Dragnet, was based on actual cases with names changed toPROTECT the innocent, and covered a variety of incidents that the officers encountered during a shift, from the tragic to the trivial.
In the series' first episode (filmed in September 1967, a year before the pilot was picked up, andDIRECTEDby Jack Webb), Reed is less than a week out of the prestigious Los Angeles Police Academy, and is eager to begin hisCAREER. Three weeks before, Malloy's patrol partner (and friend) had been killed in an attempt to apprehend an armed robbery suspect; Malloy is deeply saddened, to the extent that he plans to resign from the force. On what is to be Malloy's last night on patrol, the watch commander Lieutenant Moore (Art Gilmore) assigns Malloy to take the young, raw, rookie Reed out for his first night on patrol. Moore was Malloy's first training officer 7 years earlier. While Reed shows tremendous potential on his first night on theJOB, Malloy realizes that his new partner has plenty to learn, and with renewed purpose, the veteran officer decides to stay on the job and guide Reed during his nine-month probationary period. His comment to Reed at the end of their first watch together was: "I couldn't turn you loose on the citizens of Los Angeles, not without a leash."
Reed's probationary period is played out during the first and second seasons, after which he is promoted to a full officer. Reed and Malloy remain beat partners. In later seasons, Malloy and Reed began patrolling otherbeats of Los Angeles, including the L.A. International Airport, the Los Angeles Harbor, the Foothill District, the West Valley area,VENICE, Van Nuys, Hollywood, Rampart, and North Hollywood. With Reed having completed his probationary police officer training period and now holding the rank of Police Officer II (P-2), several episodes featured the officers working with other rookie officers, with guest actors playing these one-time characters; some episodes had Reed serving as the training officer, whereas Malloy, having been promoted to the rank of a Senior Lead Officer (P-3+1), who coordinates patrols in many neighborhoods, worked as the acting shift supervisor.
Malloy displays a distinguished expert shooting medal, Reed displays an expert medal.
Malloy and Reed reported to Shift Supervisor (Sergeant 1) William "Mac" MacDonald (William Boyett), who occasionally took a black-and-white command cruiser (a Plymouth station wagon carrying extra police equipment) with the call sign 1-L-20 into the field. Reed once questioned why Malloy had not taken the sergeant exam, as he would have rated higher than Mac did. Malloy related he preferred working patrol on the street to supervision. Malloy later showed he could supervise when Mac was ill, and Malloy filled in.
Over the course of the series, Sergeant "Mac" MacDonald was promoted to Sergeant 2. Lt Moore was promoted to Captain, and served as the commanding officer of the division, apparently replacing Captain Grant (Art Balinger).
The personal lives of Malloy and Reed come up on occasion, and are always tied into their duties. Malloy is a confirmed bachelor who has at least two girlfriends during the course of the series (the last being Judy (Aneta Corsaut), while Reed is married to a woman named Jean (played by several actresses includingKristin Nelson) and later becomes a father.
The police vehicles were central characters in that "mobile patrol units [became] associated with the black and white units made famous in such television shows as Adam-12". It was one of the shows that portrayed "the professionalism of the officers and police departments". Ronald Wayne Rodman pointed out that the theme of Adam-12 referred to a "military style topic while portraying a sense of contemporary action". Douglas Rushkoff noted: "Adam-12 also marked [the] last gasp of the righteous style of cop TV."Their set was not a squad room or an office, but the actors "watched the changes in American culture through the windshield of their squad car".
In 1999, Mattel toys paid homage to Adam-12 by producing a die-cast toy police car based on the series a part of their "Star Car" series.
The production of the program involved showing all aspects of correct police procedures, and “Webb wanted the vehicle itself to be considered a character.” The show specifically centered on police radio cars and helped reinforce “the sound of radio as an anti-crime technology.” The police vehicles used in the production of show were purchased from local dealerships and outfitted by the prop department to LAPD cruiser specs.
In seasons two and three, there were many instances where Reed and Malloy would be seen driving a 1969 Plymouth one minute, then with a camera or scene change, they would be in a 1968. The two years were very similar, with only minor differences between them.
The LAPD had purchased 534 Matadors for its patrol fleet. An event in 2001 that featured aRESTORED LAPD Matador police car, brought togetherBernard C. Parks, the former LAPD Police Chief, and Tom Williams, the producer of Adam-12.
Dragnet, Adam-12, and Emergency! take place in the same universe and depict different aspects of the public safety infrastructure of Los Angeles, California. There are several "crossover" episodes on each series with characters from other Mark VII shows.
Officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed appear on the Dragnet episode "Internal Affairs: DR-20", The D.A. episode "The People vs. Saydo" (the conclusion to a crossover that begins on "The Radical") and the Emergency! pilot movie, "The Wedsworth-Townsend Act". Sergeant MacDonald appears on the Dragnetepisode "Personnel: The Shooting". The episode "Lost And Found" was set at Rampart General Hospital and featured the Emergency! cast. However, during an Emergency! episode, Adam-12 is shown as a TV show that the paramedics like to watch, causing somewhat of a paradox between the shows. Several years after Adam-12 was cancelled, McCord was signed to appear in a planned third series of Dragnet playing Sgt. Friday's partner, but the project was cancelled due to Webb's sudden death in 1982; it is not known if McCord's character was to have been Jim Reed.
In fall 2008, Shout! Factory acquired the distribution rights through an agreement with Universal. They have subsequently released the remaining 6 seasons, with season 7 packaging titled "The Final Season."