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S.W.A.T. - The Complete First Season

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 564 mins . M15+ . PAL


Riding the recent wave of old TV series' metamorphosing into Hollywood blockbusters, comes this latest attempt to cash in on that big ole cow that roams the backlots of Hollywood late at night and all through the day. S.W.A.T. (standing for Special Weapons And Tactics) is a harder cop show that aired in primetime for the first time in 1975. While garnering a widespread popularity at the time, it only ran for two seasons with the final episode, Dangerous Memories, not even making it to air.

However, herein we have the first 13 episodes of the show to coincide with the release of the new Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell vehicle of the same name. Included here is episode number 008, Time Bomb, which was produced during the original 13 episode first season, but was played on air for the first time a sixth of the way into Season Two (which also ran out of sequence when first going to air).

The show was born during a fledgling period of Hollywood television when new shows and concepts were still being trialled. An edgy cop show with an attitude, S.W.A.T. featured four young guns under the leadership of Lieutenant Dan Harrelson (nicknamed Hondo) in a close knit environment. Being street-smart and good looking, the boys took on all sorts of whackos and thugs each week, managing most of the time to save the girl or the day accordingly with a clever quip and a wink. However, as we all know, what worked in the '70s usually canít cut it here in our frenetic 21st century and this is often the case here. Shallow storylines playing on the flavour of the month (junkies, cults, beauty pageants etc.) were pure TV: full of action, hot chicks, screeching tires (even when unwarranted) and guys turning their caps around backward.

While this isnít unwatchable Ė far from it, actually Ė it doesnít truly challenge us 30 odd years on and sits happily in the tin alongside other stuff from the era like The Incredible Hulk and Charlieís Angels. And no doubt the film version is tipped to do as well as both of those if recent box office receipts are any indication. Fans of the original series will no doubt be in raptures with this three-disc release of the first season, but it is a fairly skeletal offering with nothing but the shows spread across the discs.

Yep, itís hammy, itís contrived and itís occasionally politically incorrect, but it does have a certain appeal and after watching five episodes of the show, Iíd come to know the characters and their relationships quite well. This led me into actually watching the rest and admittedly enjoying them; much to my own surprise. So, fans, go nuts. Here is your show. Anyone else, however, may want to check out where it all began after parting with 11 bucks at the box office. Perhaps to address that funny little thing inside us that enjoys making the connections between the past and the recent, the old and the new, TV and the movie adaptation.

The episode list runs thus...

  • Disc One: The Killing Ground
  • Coven of Killers
  • Death Carrier
  • Pressure Cooker
  • Hit Men
  • Disc Two: Jungle War
  • Death Score
  • Time Bomb
  • The Bravo Enigma
  • The Steel-Plated Security Blanket
  • Disc Three: Omega One
  • Blind Manís Bluff
  • Sole Survivor


Well, manufactured in what looks like haste, there has been little restorative work done here. While the picture is mostly artefact-free, there are naturally instances when they do occur. Flesh tones and colours are all okay, although there is nothing very bright at any point, but rather that tonal washed-out appearance old '70s shows have.

There appear at times some speed issues as the film seems sped up. Whether this is to either make something look faster or is just a flaw in the transfer, Iím not sure, but lets hope itís in the original print, shall we? Otherwise everything looks as okay as a TV show from the '70s can look. Presented in 4:3 of course, thereís no modern treatment with anamorphicism so it looks just like it did way back when. In fact, it probably looks just as good on DVD as it ever did, so thatís a major plus for fans of the original series. Unfortunately though, this is presented with NTSC playback, so if your TV is an older one, youíre shit outta luck.


Presented in Dolby Digital mono, most everything sounds the way it should. However, sometimes there are warping issues with the background music that is unintentional. There are certainly a lot of uses of experimental music in this series, which is admirable for a show of that time, but these issues Iím mentioning donít relate to that. Every once in a while, the music slows briefly and then continues at regular speed. Say, for example, if you had an old vinyl record and just touched your finger to the edge and slowed it for a second before letting it go again. Itís like that. Whether itís the original stock or not is hard to say, but the picture didnít seem to have the same trouble during, so who can say?

Other than that though, everythingís fine. Dialogue is all clear and easy to understand and the music, as mentioned, sounds fine. There are also some nice instances of pure '70s wokka-wokka bass that are just beautiful.


Like I said, this thingís a stick figure. All we manage to get is a jacket picture on each disc which is the same for all three.


Well, as I say, this is fairly watchable, although I doubt anyone will use the Play All feature on the main menu. None of the shows come with minor chapters either, which I am beginning to understand isnít so common on TV series box sets, so donít get up to pee without pausing it over returning to the main menu. However, the show is still pretty cool in a dorky way and I did end up enjoying it, even if it is a little cheesy most of the time. Fans will be happy to finally have the show on DVD but the treatment, while practical, isnít anything to write home (via email) about.

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      And I quote...
    "This '70s cop show (and basis of a new film) comes to glorious 4:3 life in a particularly ordinary transfer."
    - Jules Faber
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