“One White, One Black, One Blonde”
There was certainly no shortage of police dramas on 60s television, but they lacked the appeal necessary to capture the devotion of younger audiences who were becoming more turned off by the persona of the typical “square” authority figures. To try to capture some youthful television viewer attention, ABC responded with perhaps the hippest cop show to ever hit the airwaves. Centered on a trio of former juvenile delinquents who become undercover cops, these cocky and fashionable fighters of crime would be forever known as The Mod Squad.
Debuting in 1968, The Mod Squad was created by Bud Riskin, a former Los Angeles Police Officer who drew upon his experience forming a youthful squad of undercover narcotics detectives to create this innovative series. The show revolved around three former delinquents, Pete Cochran (Michael Cole) a car thief, Linc Hayes (Clarence Williams III) a former Watts rioter, and Julie Barnes (Peggy Lipton) a runaway from San Francisco. Each was placed on probation and taken under the wing of a progressive police Captain named Adam Greer (Tige Andrews) who made them an offer they couldn’t refuse – face incarceration or help him form a squad of undercover cops to protect the youth of the city from the adults seeking to exploit them. The trio of hipsters set out on the streets of LA, without the aid of guns or badges for protection, and instead relying on their groovy personas to root out the bad guys wherever they preyed.
Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas teamed up to produce The Mod Squad, which proved to be a hit for ABC, especially among younger viewers. The show ran for a respectable five seasons before moving to syndication, where it endeared itself to a new generation of fans. The whole gang reunited in 1979 for a made-for television movie called The Return of Mod Squad. Some twenty years later, the series finally made its way to the big screen, featuring Claire Daines, Giovanni Ribisi and Omar Epps in the starring roles. Dennis Farina took over as Capt. Greer. The film was considered a disappointment and only recouped about a third of its production costs. The original series, however, which is available on DVD, remains a beloved crime drama from the era.
If you were a fan of this groovy cop show back in the day, we welcome you to share all of your Mod Squad memories with us in our comments section. Meanwhile, a tip of the Retroland hat to Link, Pete and Julie – perhaps the coolest trio of law enforcement officers to ever grace a television screen.