Monday, September 17, 2007


Action! Adventure! Hippies! THE MOD SQUAD is finally coming to DVD. Though it was quite popular during its original five-season run on ABC, it doesn't appear to have been in syndication in quite a long time. I believe a few episodes came out on VHS, but I never saw one for sale or rental anyplace.

I was going to say that I'm surprised nobody has ever tried to remake THE MOD SQUAD, because it's such a good premise, but I just remembered that MGM produced a terrible theatrical remake in 1999 that justifiably sank without a trace. More on that later. Firstly, THE MOD SQUAD hit the ABC airwaves in 1968 starring "one white, one black, one blonde," as the print ads proclaimed. Instead of going to jail, three juvenile delinquents--Pete (Michael Cole), Linc (Clarence Williams III) and Julie (Peggy Lipton)--were given the opportunity to join the Los Angeles police force as undercover detectives. Their youth and their real-life experiences with criminals allowed them to pass freely among the counterculture and investigate drug deals, car thefts, rapes, murders and any other sordid events infecting prime time during the turbulent '60s. Their boss and mentor was Captain Adam Greer (Tige Andrews), who gave the squad their assignments and worried about them while they were in the field.

One of Aaron Spelling's earlier successes as a producer, THE MOD SQUAD ran for 124 one-hour episodes and made its three hip leads major stars among the preteen and teen set, combining standard action/adventure elements like shootouts and chases with important social issues of the day. Among the episodes included in the Season 1, Volume 1 DVD set are "When Smitty Comes Marching Home" (Linc attempts to help his pal, a Vietnam vet played by Louis Gossett Jr., avoid a murder charge), "A Quiet Weekend in the Country" (Julie and Pete investigate the death of a junkie) and "The Guru" with Dabney Coleman, where the squad looks into the destruction of an alternative newspaper. Also, look for a young Harrison Ford in the 90-minute pilot episode.

All three stars remain popular supporting actors in movies and television (Tige Andrews died earlier this year). Williams appears with Kellie Martin (LIFE GOES ON) in the Hallmark Channel's popular MYSTERY WOMAN series of made-for-TV movies, and Cole has guest-starred in a couple of them. Beautiful Lipton, the mother of THE OFFICE co-star Rashida Jones from her marriage to Quincy Jones, appeared on ALIAS and has done some stage work. It will be fun to see THE MOD SQUAD again, although I really hate the studios' bogus new practice of releasing a whole season over two volumes, in effect making you pay twice for what you used to get for half the price.

As I mentioned earlier, MGM released MOD SQUAD in 1999 with Giovanni Ribisi, Omar Epps, Claire Danes and Dennis Farina as Greer, but it was a rotten R-rated film that ended the budding directorial career of Scott Silver, who co-wrote it. You're better off sticking with the cool, collected original. Here's a peek at it via a 60-second 1970 ABC promo:

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