Series premiere: S.W.A.T.

Picture of man watching big screen tv to represent TV reviews

From the original description, my prediction was:

CBS: S.W.A.T. – With H50 and MacGyver not strong enough to continue in my view, I’m going to bet on another throwback continuing with this one, so RENEWED

When the original S.W.A.T. premiered back in 1975, I was seven. I don’t see how that is possible, that I was that young when it debuted and yet still was allowed to watch it, but I had an advantage over other kids — I had a brother who was six years older and often I got to watch a lot of shows simply because he was watching them. And the show was kick ass cool. Hondo as the guy in charge, played by Steve Forrest. Robert Urich was the baby-faced Street, Mark Shera was Luca, Rod Perry was Deacon, and James Coleman was T.J. As sniper, he was frequently the trigger for Hondo to say, “T.J., on the roof!”. It was high-energy, fun and campy, and at the time, new and different. People had heard of SWAT back in the 60s with riots and things, but here they were in urban settings applying their special weapons and military-style tactics against new and more heavily armed bad guys. Two seasons later, it was done. 

Samuel L. Jackson tried to reboot it with a movie version, and it was watchable for nostalgia, not much more.

And I thought my prediction was good enough for this new one, sight unseen.

The new series has some twists from the old crew. Hondo is no longer the whitest cop you’ve ever seen, he’s a black Hondo played by Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds, Young and the Restless, Birds of Prey). He’s watchable when he’s playing everything super serious, but since he’s dating his boss, you have to watch some excruciating attempts at interpersonal acting. Deacon is played by Jay Harrington, and I knew he looked familiar, which I attributed to him likely having been guest star of the week on a lot of procedural shows. Nope, he was Steve on Coupling? Really? Never pictured him as comedic, but you almost never see him either, his role is extremely limited. Luca is played by Kenny Johnson, and once I got over reminding myself he wasn’t a young Gary Busey, I started thinking where I’d seen him. I recognized him more from shows I haven’t seen — like The Shield. I knew he was on it, but it wasn’t a show I watched. IMDB filled in the missing trivia — holy crap, he was Dewey on Saving Grace. I loved him then, which is also partly why I like him now. It’s kind of the same character…good cop, not the brightest acting, etc. Good casting. Victor Tan is a new team member, played by David Lim, and other than being Asian, his contribution to the show is extremely limited.

The two additions to the team though that are pretty great are Alex Russell as Street and Lina Esco as Chris, a female member of the team this go-around. Russell has a bunch of roles in shows and movies I’ve never heard of, so mostly a newbie, but he seems a bit like Chris O’Donnell in NCIS: L.A. While he doesn’t do much in the opener, a later episode has him undercover and the Ep was great. Equally, I like just about every scene that Esco is in. She looked familiar, and it took IMDB again to help me realize it was from the TV show Cane back in ’07.

There are a bunch of other support characters, including Hondo’s boss / girlfriend, but they add little to the show other than exposition.

Is the show great? Not really. It’s okay, if you can excuse race riots and other complicated social issues all being wrapped up in 44 minutes by a relatively new team leader. The show debuted really late for premieres, holding off until November, but as far as ratings are going, TV Grim Reaper is predicting renewal.

Why am I watching? I don’t know. It’s not great acting, little action, and not much in the way of special weapons or tactics.

Maybe I’m waiting for the rotation of “let’s have a special episode with THIS character” to make it around to Escu. Or just nostalgia. I didn’t think I’d still be watching after 7 episodes, but I am.