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DVD Review: The Mod Squad – Season 1, Volume 1

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Written by Senora Bicho

The Mod Squad is a police drama that originally aired from 1968 to 1973. The show is centered on a small undercover unit within the police department that can get inside the youth crime scene. The trio includes Pete Cochran (Michael Cole), a runaway from a rich family, Lincoln Hayes (Clarence Williams III) from Watts, and Julie Barnes (Peggy Lipton) who is all about flower power. They are all young, living off the streets, and causing trouble until police captain Greer (Tige Andrews) talks them into they becoming undercover cops in order to avoid jail after they get each busted.

Bud Ruskin, a real life police officer who ran an undercover narcotics unit, created the show. It is said to be partially based on his experiences with that unit. The Mod Squad was also Aaron Spelling’s first television success for his newly formed production company with Danny Thomas. Spelling always had his finger on the pulse of the youth market and his first show is clear evidence of that. It offers hip kids with cool clothes, great music and a beautiful locations.

The series achieved modest popularity along with several Emmy and Golden Globe nominations with Lipton winning a Golden Globe in 1971. She was one of my favorite actresses on Twin Peaks and I always thought she was gorgeous with an air of grace, but in The Mod Squad she is hot and feisty although sometimes her broken spirit  surfaces. She is the best part of the show and was very deserving of the Golden Globe. She was nominated four out of the five years that it ran while the series was nominated three out of five.

Season one sets up the story and background and features cases including murder, counterfeiting, kidnapping, and lots more. It is your typical police drama but what sets it apart is the group’s youth and the bonds they form. What is also unique is that the unit tries to help out both sides, being young they understand the problems and issues that the people they are trying to arrest are going through. This presents them with a lot of internal struggles and who exactly are the good guys and the bad guys

The time frame of the show provides a interesting element too. The clothes, slang, music, and attitudes of the ‘60s are fun to watch and really come shining through. There is no gratuitous violence and the trio doesn’t even carry guns. One marketing tag line of the show was “One White, One Black, One Blonde” which illustrates the groundbreaking aspect of the show. Putting a black guy, a white guy and a woman together as a tight-knit group let alone working together as cops was unheard of at the time.

This DVD collection includes the first 13 episodes of the first season, there were a total of 26, along with some special features. “Forming The Mod Squad” provides information about the creation of the show and includes interviews with Lipton and Cole. “Inside ‘The Teeth of the Barracuda’ 1968” offers more interviews with Lipton and Cole and focuses on the year 1968. “The Friends of The Mod Squad” is about the guest stars of the show and has interviews with Lou Gossett, Jr., Leslie Ann Warren, Tyne Daly and Ed Asner.

There is some interesting information presented here but I would have preferred if they had included all 26 episodes from the season instead, especially considering that it is selling for $30. The price tag is a little pricey for only 13 episodes. If you are curious, rent it first.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS