Vintage TV: Adam-12
When I was five, I wanted to be Jim Reed, the rookie police officer on the TV show Adam-12. The show had everything a five-year-old boy could want – cop cars, sirens, and bad guys – and Reed was in the thick of it, yelling “Freeze!”, cuffing suspects, and saying “One Adam 12 roger” into the radio. It was big stuff to little me. It helped a lot that Reed and I had the same first name and that we looked a bit alike; his black hair was even parted on the same side as mine! Check it out:
Reed was the man.
I faithfully watched nightly reruns of Adam-12 during my 1970s kidhood. (I couldn’t watch in prime time because the show was on after my bedtime.) I became a student of all things LAPD that I could learn from the show. I knew what all the radio codes meant – Code 2 meant drive to the scene with no lights or siren, Code 3 meant drive real fast to the scene with lights and siren, Code 6 meant they were away from their car investigating something, and Code 7 meant they were at lunch. And I used to hold forth to my longsuffering family about the various crimes committed. 211s (armed robberies) were my favorite because they were always handled Code 3, but I totally grooved on 459s (burglaries) and usually dug even routine 415s (disturbances).
Okay, so I liked the show more than a little bit. I could tell you, just by listening to the first five seconds of the opening theme, which season an episode was from. I even had a favorite police car in the series – the 1972 AMC Matador used in seasons 5, 6, and 7, which just looked the baddest. The 1968 Plymouth Belvedere used in season 1 (and the almost-identical 1969 Belvedere used in seasons 2 and 3) looked like dowdy grocery getters in comparison. I disliked the bloated and ungainly 1971 Plymouth Satellite from season 4 so much that I quit watching episodes from that season after I’d seen them three or four times. And yes, I knew the year, make, and model of all the cars. This promo from the show’s final season features the Matador:
Frankly, I drove my family crazy with my Adam-12 obsession. I’m sure riding my bike around the neighborhood making siren noises all the time didn’t endear me to the neighbors, either. But I figured my family’s pain, at least, had healed this Christmas when my brother gave me seasons 1 and 2 on DVD. They’re not AMC Matador seasons, but they’ll do.