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|Police Television Shows Past and Present
Any person considering a police career today has been influenced by television. As
things go, television hasn't been around that long, but its impact was immediate and
My most vivid memory of my first exposure to television occurred on October 22, 1962
as I sat on the living room floor in front of our brand new – used – floor model TV with
a 10 inch screen – black and white obviously – and watched President John F. Kennedy
utter these words,
"Good evening, my fellow citizens. This Government, as promised, has maintained the
closest surveillance of the Soviet military build-up on the island of Cuba. Within the
past week unmistakable evidence has established..."
All too soon, the next most vivid memory occurred only a year later as I watched the
news coverage of President Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, Texas. I then watched
the live coverage as Jack Ruby murdered the President's assassin, Lee Harvey
Oswald. Thirty-eight years later, I'd watch live coverage of terrorists crashing a
passenger jet into the second tower of the World Trade Center.
There's no question that television has, and will continue to have, tremendous
influence on American society. In the beginning, television took its lead from the
culture. Today, the culture is increasingly taking its lead from television. Make no
mistake, aside from public education, television is the most effective tool for the
dissemination of propaganda ever devised by man.
As a person considering a career in police work, television is an excellent training tool
for the development of your investigative abilities. From the news to entertainment
and right on through the commercials, the messages and – clues – are everywhere.
Some are obvious and others subliminal. Obviously... the subliminal political and
societal messages are the ones you want to detect and analyze.
When you become a police officer, you'll quickly learn that people rarely ever tell the
truth and nothing but the truth. Sometimes peoples' versions of the truth simply exist
in their interpretation of events and circumstances, or they just simply lie. Events and
circumstances depicted on television follow pretty much the same path. How many
times have you watched a reporter using the term "Taser related death" when
reporting that a suspect died after being tasered by police? You never see any follow-
up reporting on the death, because the cause of death is always determined to be a
physical condition unrelated to the Taser incident. Even so, there exists organized
propaganda claiming that hundreds of deaths have occurred as a direct result of Taser
|The Influence of Television
|10-8: Officers on Duty (USA, 2002-2003) - 10-8:
Officers on Duty was a short-lived American police drama
television series on ABC. The title is a reference to the
ten-code for "officer in service and available for calls."
21 Jump Street (USA, 1987-1991) - 21 Jump Street (originally titled Jump Street Chapel) is an hour long police drama television series, developed
by Fox Network. It ran from April 12, 1987 to April 27, 1991, with a total of 103 episodes. A spin-off called Booker was produced for the character of
Dennis Booker (Richard Grieco), but it ran only one season from September 1989 to June 1990. Read more...
24 (USA, 2001-present) - 24 is an Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning American action drama television series. Broadcast by Fox Network in the
USA and syndicated worldwide, the show first aired on November 6, 2001, with an initial thirteen episodes. The first six seasons were all centered around
the Los Angeles branch of the U.S. government Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU). Read more...
77 Sunset Strip (USA, 1958-1964) - 77 Sunset Strip is an hour-length American television private detective series. It was the subject of an
ownership battle between Roy Huggins and Warner Brothers, which was the proximate cause of Huggins' departure from the studio. It was actually
based on novels and short stories written by Huggins prior to his arrival at Warner, but, as a matter of legal record, derived from a brief Caribbean
theatrical release of its pilot, Girl on the Run. The show ran from 1958 to 1964 and won the 1960 Golden Globe Award for best TV series. Read more...
Adam-12 (USA, 1968-1975) - Adam-12 is a television program which ran from September 21, 1968 until August 30, 1975 on NBC for 175 episodes. The
show was produced by Jack Webb, who also was behind Dragnet and Emergency!. The series was nominally considered a spin-off of Webb's Dragnet 1967,
and the Reed and Malloy characters appeared on episodes of the parent program. Read more...
Alias (USA, 2001-2006) - Alias is an American action television series created by J. J. Abrams which was broadcast on ABC for five seasons, from
September 30, 2001 to May 22, 2006. It starred Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, a CIA agent. The main theme of the series explores Sydney's
obligation to conceal her true career from her friends and family, even as she assumes multiple aliases to carry out her missions. These themes are
most prevalent in the first two seasons of the show. A major plotline of the series was the search for and recovery of artifacts created by Milo Rambaldi,
a fictional Leonardo da Vinci-like inventor and Nostradamus-like prophet from the Renaissance period. This plot and some technologies used in the
series pushed Alias into the genre of science fiction. Read more...
America's Most Wanted (reality) (USA, 1988-present) - America's Most Wanted is an American TV show produced by 20th Century Fox, and is
the longest-running program of any kind in the history of the Fox Television Network. Its purpose is to profile and assist law enforcement in the
apprehension of fugitives wanted for various crimes, including murder, rape, child molestation, white collar crime, armed robbery, gang violence, and
terrorism many of whom are currently on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. On May 2, 2008, the program's website announced its 1,000th
capture. Read more...
Der Alte (Germany, 1976-present) - The Old Fox (original German title "Der Alte", lit. "The Old Man") is a German television series created in
1976, now running for over three decades. It depicts the crime solving activities of three police detectives, Kommissar Erwin Köster, played by Siegfried
Lowitz until 1985, from 1986 until 2006 Chief Inspector Leo Kress, played by Rolf Schimpf and from 2007 Chief Inspector Rolf Herzog played by Walter
Kreye. Read more...
The Avengers (UK, 1961-1969) - The Avengers was a British television series featuring secret agents in 1960s Britain. The programmes were made
by TV company Associated British Corporation, and created by its Head of Drama Sydney Newman. It was an early example of the spy-fi genre,
combining secret agent storylines with science fiction elements. Running from 1961 to 1969, it is the longest running espionage series produced for
English-language television, though the American series Mission: Impossible had more episodes (171).
A Touch of Frost (UK, 1992-????) - A Touch of Frost is a detective television series produced by Yorkshire Television for ITV in the United
Kingdom. It stars Sir David Jason as Detective Inspector William Edward Frost, G.C., known as Jack to everyone but his late wife (after the 1st
episode). He is experienced and dedicated to his work, but he is always clashing with his superiors, mainly represented in the series by Superintendent
Norman "Horn-rimmed Harry" Mullett, played by Bruce Alexander. The two have highly incompatible personalities. Mullett is an ambitious
buttoned-down by-the-book administrator, and Frost is a down-to-earth "street copper". Nonetheless, they appreciate each other's professional abilities.
Ashes to Ashes (UK, 2008-present) - Ashes to Ashes is a British television drama series, which serves as a sequel to the 2006 series Life on Mars.
It is a Kudos Film & Television production for the BBC, which was broadcast on BBC One. It premiered on 7 February 2008 at 9:00 PM GMT. Philip
Glenister, who plays Gene Hunt, has stated in an interview that the programme will run for at least two seasons. He added that he does not think any
show featuring his character should be made afterwards. Matthew Graham has stated that the programme could potentially run to three seasons.
Filming for a second season started in Summer 2008, to be broadcast in 2009. Read more...
B.J. and the Bear (USA, 1979-1981) - B.J. and the Bear was a comedy-drama television series which aired on NBC from 1979 to 1981. Greg Evigan
stars as B. J. (Billie Joe) McKay, a professional freelance itinerant trucker who traveled the country's highways in a red and white Kenworth K-100 cab
over semi truck with his pet chimpanzee, Bear (named for Bear Bryant, the famed college football coach; this explains the chimp's choice of headwear).
He was constantly harassed by sheriff Elroy P. Lobo (Claude Akins, who eventually spun off onto his own show, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo).
Bakersfield P.D. (USA, 1993-1994) - Bakersfield P.D. is a short-lived American television comedy series that aired on the Fox network in
1993-94. The show was based in the police department of the city of Bakersfield, California. It was shot with naturalistic lighting and without a
laughtrack. The show ran one season before being cancelled due to low ratings(the "official" reason, according to Fox). Read more...
Banacek (USA, 1972-1974) - Banacek (one of the rotating NBC Mystery Movie series) was a short-lived, light-hearted detective TV series starring
George Peppard on NBC from 1972 to 1974. It alternated in its timeslot with several other shows, but it was the only one to last beyond its first season. It
was later rebroadcast on A&E Network. The show had a mixture of humor combined with rather intricate plots that never generated strong ratings.
Despite this, the show was well received by critics, and was picked up for a third season. However, before the third season could start production, Peppard
quit the show in order to prevent his ex-wife Elizabeth Ashley from receiving a larger percentage of his earnings as part of their divorce settlement.
The First 75 Years
GOLDEN BOY is a drama about the meteoric rise of an ambitious cop
who becomes the youngest police commissioner in the history of New
York City, and the high personal and professional cost he pays to
achieve it. As he's interviewed for a story about his career, Walter
William Clark, Jr. looks back on his hard-fought journey from street
kid to the most powerful man in law enforcement. After only three
years as a beat cop, Clark's heroics on the job make him bold enough to
ask for and receive the unheard-of promotion to homicide detective,
angering the members of his new department who are eager to see him
fail. Clark is partnered with and mentored by experienced veteran
Detective Don Owen, just two years shy of retirement. He would rather
team with First Grade Detective Christian Arroyo, the alpha dog in the
squad who's just as ambitious as Clark, but without a moral center.
Arroyo's partner is Detective Deborah McKenzie, a tough third-
Barnaby Jones (USA, 1973-1980) - Barnaby Jones
is a television detective series which ran on CBS from
1973 to 1980. It starred Buddy Ebsen as a retired private
investigator who worked with his widowed
daughter-in-law Betty (Lee Meriwether), at first to solve
the murder of his son and her husband. The two decided
that they worked together so well, that they continued to
keep the detective agency open. Jones was unusual,
because counter to the stereotypical detective, he was a
non-drinker, ordering and drinking milk in restaurants
and bars. Read more...
Baretta (USA, 1975-1978) - Baretta is a American
detective television series which ran on ABC from 1975 to
1978. The show was a milder version of a successful 1973–
74 ABC series, Toma, starring Tony Musante as
chameleon-like, real-life New Jersey police officer David
Toma. While popular, Toma received intense criticism at
the time for its realistic and frequent depiction of police
and criminal violence. When Musante left the series after
a single season, the concept was retooled as Baretta, with
Robert Blake in the title role. Read more...
generation cop and the only female detective in the unit. Also on the team is Detective Joe Diaco, well-connected with
tremendous resources which Clark might find useful. Though laser-focused on moving up the ladder...