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TV Series Review

Back in the 1970s, the streets of Los Angeles were paradoxically the safest, most dangerous streets you could find—at least on television.

L.A. crime was astronomical on the tube—like, Gotham City levels of crime—but necessarily so. If it wasn't, what would all those bell-bottomed, L.A.-based television crimefighters do? From Columbo to Adam-12, from The Rockford Files to CHiPs, almost every corner of Southern California was guarded by a police squad or private eye and his/her/their attendant camera crew. No one could so much as jaywalk without Barnaby Jones or a couple of Charlie's Angels whipping out a pair of handcuffs.

In that overbloated crime-fighting landscape, it's no wonder ABC's original S.W.A.T. series lasted just two forgettable seasons, from 1975-76: There just wasn't enough crime to go around.

More than 40 years later, crime's down in Los Angeles, both in real life and on television. But the television landscape is as brutal as it's ever been. Can you blame CBS, whose median viewer age is 59 and which already serves as a rest home for a dizzying array of geriatric reboots, for dusting off yet another golden oldie?

Why, yes. Yes we can.

You Have the Right to Remain Insipid …

Dan "Hondo" Harrelson leads Los Angeles's super-weaponized S.W.A.T. team, and he and his squad dash through every episode as if the script itself was on fire. Clever, daring criminals stand no chance against Hondo and his stern glare. Would-be murderers and racketeers cower in the face of S.W.A.T.'s collective muscle. (No, literally: Cast members seem hired solely based on biceps radius.) Every episode involves detective work and derring-do aplenty, with plots seemingly constructed from particularly boring games of crime-procedural Mad Libs.

But there's more! When S.W.A.T. members aren't catching bad guys, they're supporting each other as only best friends on television can. They commiserate with each other when things go bad and tell each other how special they are in between shootouts. Character complexity varies between the stuff of generic Facebook posts and spam email, and every episode contains at least a little subplot flotsam, 'cause CBS apparently told S.W.A.T.'s team of possibly-imprisoned writers that television shows should have it, even if no one (including the characters) seems to care much what said subplot flotsam actually is.

It'd be nice to bring this review to an end right there, but alas, we must say more.

Low Swattage

Television reboots are all the rage circa 2018—even if television viewers are getting increasingly sick of the trend. And broadcast networks like CBS, struggling with dwindling audiences and a sinking bottom line, are always on the lookout for something tried and true that can grab a few eyeballs and keep advertisers happy. (Or, if not happy, at least content enough to keep the laundry-detergent and acid-reflux-medication commercials airing.) And CBS never met a crime procedural it didn't like—even if no one else liked it much the first time around.

Whatever appeal shows like S.W.A.T. have is rooted in familiarity—giving viewers safe, reliable comfort food. But with this one, the show's makers decided to give an otherwise aggressively milquetoast show a cutting-edge turn in the sexual department.

It's hard to get a show greenlit today without a little sexual diversity. So do we have gay character? Nope. A transsexual character? Still not enough these days to boost the ratings. No, S.W.A.T. has introduced, to my knowledge, network television's first ongoing, consensual polyamorous relationship.

The initial tryst comes courtesy of S.W.A.T. member Chris, a woman who was originally interested in just hooking up with another woman. (Again: so passé.) But when she learns that her intended lover, Kira, is engaged—to a guy—Kira invites Chris to become part of a consensual threesome.

"Yes, we are getting married," she tells Chris. "But if we start a relationship with you, you will be an equal part in that new relationship."

So now, Chris is relating to both of her lovers, and her S.W.A.T. teammates are reasonably supportive. ("People are surprisingly tolerant when you give them a chance," Kira tells Chris.) It seems that S.W.A.T. wanted to join the ranks of buzzy, controversial, envelope-pushing shows that introduce "the first ever" flavor-of-the-month. Ironically, the show is otherwise so forgettable that apparently no one even noticed.

S.W.A.T. has other problems, too. Though not particularly bloody, the show's viewers will still reliably see murders, assaults and shootouts in almost every episode. Language can be rough, too. And, naturally, watching the program risks lowering one's IQ with each episode.

On the bright side, the theme music—lifted from the original S.W.A.T.—is pretty catchy. And the show's name is fitting, too. After watching it, "swat" is what I want to do to the television power button.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Dec. 6, 2018: "1000 Joules"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Shemar Moore as Daniel 'Hondo' Harrelson; Stephanie Sigman as Jessica Cortez; Alex Russell as Jim Street; Lina Esco as Christina 'Chris' Alonso; Kenny Johnson as Dominique Luca; Jay Harrington as David 'Deacon' Kay; David Lim as Victor Tan; Patrick St. Esprit as Robert Hicks; Peter Onorati as Jeff Mumford

Director

Distributor

Network

CBS

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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