In the pilot episode, Malloy is planning to resign from the police department following the death of his partner, who was killed in the line of duty while trying to foil an armed robbery. Malloy is persuaded to stay on and train a new partner: rookie officer Jim Reed, fresh out of the police academy and a two-year stint in the Army. Reed has a lot of potential, but is green and overeager. At the end of the pilot episode, Reed disobeys Malloy's direct order, but succeeds in safely arresting several armed persons. Malloy dresses him down; however, the Division's Watch Commander, Malloy's one-time training officer (Art Gilmore, who also narrated the openings to the 1955–59 TV series Highway Patrol), reminds Malloy that the latter was also once an eager young rookie, much like Reed. Malloy takes it on himself to mold Reed into one of Los Angeles' "finest," at which, as evidenced by later episodes, he succeeds.
Adam-12 episodes center on Malloy and Reed's relationship as patrol partners, their shared experiences, and Reed's professional maturation. Both officers would be wounded in the line of duty, kidnapped and held hostage (separately and together), and face disciplinary actions for their mistakes. Car chases and shoot-outs occurred, but with less frequency than in other TV cop series. A typical episode involved Reed and Malloy encountering people and places on their daily patrol beat, with incidents ranging from humorous to profoundly serious. Sometimes a common incident or theme was explored throughout the episode, while other times multiple incidents occurred. Some episodes focused on mistakes of the rookie officer, and sometimes on the mistakes of more experienced officers.
Skip Young guest starred as an assistant district attorney in the 1969 episode "Log 123: Courtroom". Young and McCord had earlier appeared together in supporting roles on the ABC sitcom, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
A memorable 1970 episode entitled Elegy for a Pig details Pete Malloy's earlier relationship with his best friend from the police academy (Officer Tom Porter, played by Mark Goddard), starting from the stormy night that Porter was killed in the line of duty. Most of the introduction was narrated by Martin Milner as Pete Malloy ("It had to be me. Out of all the other officers in the department, it had to be me"). In this episode they show how Officer Pete Malloy came to be a Senior Lead Officer, and go back to their shared experiences as LAPD cadets in the early 1960s, before ending with Tom Porter's full-LAPD-honors funeral. Among some of the one-time-only features of this episode were that it used relatively little background music, especially over the opening credits (which included a voiceover by Jack Webb) and end credits. There was also no on-screen dialogue in the half-hour episode, except for Pete Malloy's narration.
During the second season in 1970, Reed completed his probationary period, and was granted regular LAPD Officer status. Shortly thereafter, during Season Four in 1971, Malloy was promoted to "Officer-3"/Senior Lead Officer (ranking one step below Sergeant, as noted by the two chevrons/star patch on his shirt-sleeves). The duo also became members of their division's SWAT team (a then-relatively new concept pioneered by the LAPD) and were shown in that capacity for a handful of episodes.
In the latter part of the seventh and final season it is strongly implied that Malloy will become the Division's new Patrol Sergeant/Watch Commander (after he fills in for an ailing Sgt. Mac on at least two episodes), and Reed will attain Detective status, after a successful plainclothes stint in LAPD's Narcotics Division as detailed in the final two episodes.
Peter J. Malloy, Badge number 744, service number 10743
Played by Martin Milner.
Pete Malloy is a seven year veteran of the LAPD, the division Senior Watch officer, and when the show first begins he is thinking of leaving the department, due to the fact that he had lost a partner about three weeks beforehand and did not want to go through that again. On what would be his last day on the force, he draws young, impulsive rookie Jim Reed, fresh from the Academy and who had never been on the street before. Malloy is forced to take the inexperienced young officer under his wing for what he thinks is one night; however, at the end of the night Malloy decides to stay on with the force and continue to coach/tutor the brash, impulsive young officer and bring him along eventually into a full-fledged officer.
Older and much more experienced than his younger partner, Malloy is a Distinguished Expert on the range (noted by the gold medallion he wears above his left breast pocket) and is considered, according to his partner "the old pro."
Nicknamed "The Strawberry Fox," because of his red hair and his knack for sneaking up on suspects, Malloy is extremely quiet when needed so that a suspect can be caught red-handed with whatever they might have on them.
Throughout the series, Malloy remains single, preferring to be, in his own words, "a happy bachelor"; he does get involved with a couple of women, but something always happens, usually with the subject of marriage coming up, which causes Malloy to get cold feet, and back away. Reed's wife Jean sometimes chides Pete over his headstrong refusal to get married, and is once noted to say that happy bachelors "infuriate me"; he has also taken some flack from Reed himself for not getting married, a case in point being when Reed had earlier discussed his day off with Malloy and told Malloy that he and his wife had painted the bathroom together, Malloy later tells him, "You think that's weird? I know a guy that paints bathrooms on his day off."
During the series, Malloy usually drives the patrol car. There are two exceptions, however; the first was when Malloy forgot to renew his driver's license, leaving the driving to Reed, during which Malloy turned into a back seat driver, constantly nagging Reed about every little detail. The second was in the episode "The Beast" in which their temporary patrol car (with 300 miles to retirement) acts up too much for Malloy. After the third trip to the police garage, he has Reed drive.
Malloy has also suffered more injuries than his junior partner. In one instance, when he went in pursuit of a suspect after leaving Reed with another, he chased the suspect car through Griffith Park, where he took a turn too fast, went off the road and rolled the car down a hill, sustaining a concussion, broken ribs, a broken leg and some internal injuries. Another case in point occurred when he walked into Duke's Cafe for lunch and into a robbery in progress, getting shot in the right shoulder.
Later in the series, Malloy is promoted to Police Officer III+1, more popularly known as "Senior Lead Officer, or "SLO" (noted by Corporal stripes, and a star), and retains that rank until the end of the series run, when he plans on taking the Sergeant's exam and possibly leaving field work for a desk job.
Malloy often is the brunt of Reed's jokes on more than one occasion, especially when he once grew a moustache; Reed continually cracked jokes about it until Malloy decided to shave it off. Another time, Malloy had to buy a new pair of shoes which squeaked constantly; again, Malloy was constantly ribbed by his partner over it.
Malloy is often cool under pressure, but he has been known to lose his temper, which he has done more than once to Reed and even a couple of times to suspects. In the episode "X-Force", Malloy was suspended by the Captain for four days after he lost his temper with a child molestation suspect.
Upon the birth of Reed's son, Jimmy, Malloy is asked to be the godfather, which he gladly accepts.
He is known to often clash with other officers in the division, namely Ed Wells (played by Gary Crosby), over issues Malloy thinks are not proper police work.
Malloy's taste for cars usually leans toward muscle cars, as he owned a series of Ford Mustang convertibles. When he was 16, he stole his father's car and slid it into a ditch. Upon trying to pull the car out, he and his friends accidentally rolled it over on its side, damaging it further.
James A. Reed, Badge number 2430, service number 13985
Played by Kent McCord.
A rookie officer at the beginning of the series, Reed is paired with the senior man on the watch, Pete Malloy. At first, the two do not hit it off well, as Malloy is planning to leave the department and Reed is prying, attempting to find out why. When the first day ends, Malloy stays on board to train Reed and, hopefully, turn him into a good officer. Reed is a veteran of the U.S. Army, although what unit he served with and where he served are never discussed (it is quite possible that Reed served time in Vietnam, as the series was set during that era).
At the beginning of the series, Reed is married and his wife Jean is pregnant. By the middle of the second season, he is a father to a son, named Jimmy.
Reed is known to sometimes get emotionally involved in a case, especially (and most often) where children are involved. One example occurred when he and his partner arrested a woman for endangering her children by having illegal drugs within easy reach in the house; when she denied culpability in the situation Reed briefly lost his cool and demanded of her, "What kind of mother are you?" Another example happened when they arrested a known child molester and they find out later that the victim died in the hospital; Reed punches his locker door hard enough to jar loose the entire row of lockers, spring the door hinges, and buckle the metal. He is eventually docked pay to replace the broken locker door. A third incident involved a case where a woman was found to be leaving her six year old daughter at home caring for an infant while she worked as a stripper. A neighbor called and reported the child was stealing her milk and during questioning the child, the Reed discovered the infant laying on blankets in a filthy bathtub. While interviewing another person of interest in the case who was suspected of whipping the child with an extension cord, both Reed and Malloy became angry to the point of shouting at the suspect. It was later revealed that the child's mother had committed the abuse.
At one point during his probationary period, Reed was involved in an Officer Involved Shooting. Reed and Malloy were patrolling on a particularly uneventful evening when a sniper shot a hole through the windshield of their cruiser. Both Reed and Malloy bailed out of the vehicle, with Reed returning fire three times. The subject was killed and during the subsequent investigation, Reed seemed calm and accepting of the situation, asking only what was likely to occur and for permission to call his wife. Malloy however saw through his calm demeanor, telling the investigation team that Reed was actually taking it rougher than appeared. Reed eventually did break down under questioning and lost his cool after making a mistake about the number of times he fired (he said he shot twice) and the revelation that the suspect was only 16 years old. Eventually he was reduced to tears and the questioning had to be temporarily stopped. Reed was cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident and returned to duty.
Reed can be headstrong and impulsive at times. Once, when he, Malloy, his wife Jean (who was close to delivering), and Malloy's girlfriend were trapped in a ghost town with a biker gang, Reed wanted to shoot first and ask questions later, while Malloy preferred to be calm and make sure of a shot before taking it. His brash, and impulsive nature was often cooled by more than just Malloy, when he, and Malloy executed a drug bust, Reed took evidence without a warrant, allowing the suspect to be cleared of all charges, another time, when the two were called to a possible dead body call, Reed proceeded under a porch to retrieve a burlap sack, before the homicide team was called, luckily for him, the sack only contained a load of Pacific Mackerel.
Although Reed can be impulsive, he does take strong care the welfare of his partner and friend. When Malloy crashed the car in Griffith Park, Reed went against department policy and requested a single-man unit to find his friend, which he did, against his sergeant's orders, after a four-hour search did nothing to locate him.
In the final episode, Reed is planning on taking the Investigator's exam, meaning that he would become a Detective and leave Malloy for a plainclothes assignment. During an operation with the LAPD Vice Squad, Reed receives the LAPD Medal for Valor for saving Malloy's life, at great risk to his own.
There is a lot of good natured kidding between Reed and Malloy, especially when Reed was once forced to drive the car when Malloy forgot to renew his drivers license; Reed was being constantly nagged about his driving, prompting his reply of "nag, nag, nag," to Malloy, but Reed did get in his jokes to Malloy on more than one occasion, especially when Malloy decided to grow a moustache; Reed couldn't get enough joking in about it, until Malloy finally decided to shave it off.
Reed is known to sometimes clash with other officers in the division, mostly Ed Wells, over his work ethic and methods. He also clashed with another officer, Charlie Burnside, over his unnecessary use of force when apprehending suspects (as seen in the episode "Badge Heavy"). And with Gus Corbin (played by a young Mark Harmon), as the rookie officer constantly placed himself and Reed in grave and often unnecessary danger.
By the end of the third season, Reed is finally removed from his probationary status, and becomes a full patrol officer.
Reed's taste for vehicles ranged throughout the series, first, driving a Ford Falcon, then, driving an early 60's Dodge, then, finally, showing off a 1954 Ford Customline, that he raced on the drag strip. Late in the run of the series he was also seen driving a blue Corvette convertible which was actually owned by actor Kent McCord.
The officers worked out of the Central Division of the LAPD, but the show used situations from real LAPD case files and thus was not set in any one area of the city. The title of the show is derived from the radio car unit number of the duo, 1 (for Central Division, though Rampart Division was actually used as the location), Adam (to designate it as a two man patrol), and 12 (to designate their patrol area). However, the moniker was generally thought to refer to the number of their "black and white" patrol car, and in recognition of this, beginning in 1971 the vehicles used were marked with the number 012. In reality, the LAPD patrol cars are marked with a unique five-digit shop number, with the last three on the top of each car (for rapid identification by police helicopters), and a two-digit number on the trunk representing the originating division.
The outdoor filming was done primarily in the North Hollywood, Toluca Lake, Studio City, and Hollywood Hills sections of Los Angeles (and close to Universal Studios and the infamous studio backlot itself, which was heavily used during the first two seasons), although the exteriors of the station house were actually of the newly completed Rampart Division station of the Los Angeles Police Department. However, in the pilot episode, shot in late 1967, the station shown is North Hollywood Division.
As with Dragnet, Adam-12 episodes were based on incidents in the actual case files from the LAPD. At the end of each episode the "names have been changed..." statement was shown (but not narrated) at the start of the ending credits.
Adam 12 was writer Stephen J. Cannell's first permanent job; he served as head writer and story editor during the fourth season. Jack Webb also wrote several episodes under the pseudonym John Randolph (his given first and middle names, which he often used as a pseudonym for any episode he wrote for one of his series). Ozzie Nelson was a frequent director for the series. Nelson is best known for playing himself on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Harry Morgan, who appeared on the 1960s incarnation of Dragnet and several other Mark VII shows, also directed an episode.
Two of Martin Milner's children appeared in episodes of Adam-12. Andrew Milner was a minibike stunt rider for Johnny Whitaker in the episode "Northeast Division" (1973). Amy Milner appeared in the episode "Victim of the Crime" (1975). Kent McCord's teenage daughter also appeared as a kidnapping witness in the seventh season episode "Operation Action" (1975).
The firefighter/paramedics John Gage and Roy Desoto, Dr. Kelly Brackett and Dr. Joe Early, and Nursing Supervisor Dixie McCall from Emergency!, another Jack Webb creation that first aired on NBC-TV in early 1972, crossed over onto Adam-12 in an episode, "Lost And Found," in which Malloy and Reed assist on a hospital's telephone hotline (they try to locate and stop a distressed caller from committing suicide), and locate a diabetic boy who had run away from the hospital. This crossover conflicts with an episode of Emergency! in which the paramedics and firefighters watch an Adam-12 episode on television. Confusingly, Reed and Malloy also appear in two scenes at Rampart General Hospital's emergency room/trauma center (as it was in 1972) in the pilot/TV movie of Emergency!
The police radio used (the Motorola Motrac/Motran series) is an actual radio used by the LAPD in the 1960s and 1970s, with the call sign KMA-367. Dragnet 1967/1970 also used this same radio. The dispatcher was also a real-life LAPD dispatcher, Shaaron Claridge. Claridge's typical page to Reed and Malloy of "One-Adam-12, One-Adam-12, see the [man/lady/victim] at [address] about a [crime/incident]," along with the response of "One-Adam-12, Roger," became a catch phrase ingrained in American culture, and these same radio procedures are still in use at the LAPD today. Badges used on the show were actual LAPD shields — LAPD Badge numbers 744 for Malloy and 2430 for Reed — which were lent (with technical assistance supported by the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners) by the Office of the Chief of Police, a practice that began when Dragnet was on television in the 1950s and 1960s. With both series, the badges were brought to the studio each morning by the officer assigned as technical advisor, then returned each night after shooting was completed. This was reported by Gene Roddenberry, who was assigned as liaison between Webb and LAPD during 1950s' production of Dragnet.
Jack Webb, executive producer, purchased non-police fleet (civilian) cars from local car dealers for use in the Adam-12 television series until 1970. One can tell the modified civilian cars because the inside of the vehicle trunk lids were painted white and lacked police fleet packages (the cars purchased from local dealers were painted white and then the front and rear were painted black at the Universal lot). The cars purchased through the LAPD fleet purchasing system had trunk interiors that were painted black in the factory production phase. LAPD cars were delivered in black paint, the doors and roof were then painted white after delivery.
The cars used on the TV show also used the same type of warning lights and sirens that were used by the LAPD at that time. The lights were the "tin can" style, Model #T-2 Class A-1 lamps made by TRIO Sales. They featured two Steady Burn (non-flashing) Red lights facing forward, and two "wig-wag" amber lights facing the rear. The siren used was a Federal Signal CP-25 (58 watt output) speaker, with a Federal Signal Interceptor Model PA-20 used to control the siren tones.
Beginning in season four, cars used in the series had three-digit numbers on the roofs. This simulated the LAPD practice which made it easier to identify patrols cars from the air, helpful in coordinating helicopter and ground units during pursuits and other calls. These numbers all began with zero, which was not used for "real" marked LAPD radio cars, so that they would not be mistaken for actual in-service units while shooting on location.
The first vehicle to be purchased through the LAPD fleet order was the 1972 American Motors Corporation (AMC) Matador. Jack Webb also purchased cars for the LAPD in appreciation, and also built facilities for the LAPD Academy (the "Mark VII building").
The vehicles used in the production of Adam-12 (provided by Tom Williams, Producer):
The Mercury Montego, the sedan actually purchased in 1970 by the LAPD, was not used except as a background vehicle during the fourth and fifth seasons. The 1974 AMC Matador was used as a background vehicle (notably when Malloy was substituting as watch commander) during the latter part of the final season.
The first episode featured a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere. The featured series entry vehicle was a "cloned" 1968 Plymouth Belvedere "Pursuit Special" – equipped with a 383-cid 4-barrel V8 engine. The 1969 Plymouth Belvedere quietly replaced the 1968 after the first year. After reviewing videotape from the series, the vehicle details varied in the slightest way in the grille patterns and rear ends. The Plymouth Belvedere became the workhorse for LAPD and many other police departments in the late 1960s. The "1-A-12" Belvedere had the markings of LAPD and the vehicle "shop" (fleet I.D.) number(s) of "80789" (First Episode) "80817" in the '68 & '69 vehicles, and "80817" on the front door and rear of the vehicle and "1–817" on the steady red/amber flashers.
The second vehicle, a 1971 Plymouth Satellite "Pursuit Special" came with a 300-hp, 383-cid V8 engine. Per the book "Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge Police Cars 56–78", the biggest engine in the "B" body Satellite was a 383, and LAPD's were "hi-performance" 383s with 4-bbl carbs. The 1972 Satellite and Coronet had 400s and 440s as options, but not in 1971. (The police cruisers used in the show were not LAPD spec'ed cars (except for the Matador, which was purchased by Universal and Mark VII Productions from the actual LAPD fleet). The biggest reason is evident that the cruiser in the show had the smaller steering wheel used with power steering. The LAPD did not order power steering because it reduced the "road feel". The 1971 Satellite in the show was used for one season, and seen in the background as one of the other patrol cars. The cars did not fare well with law enforcement use, only a few hundred of these vehicles were placed in the field (conversely, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office – LASD – had a large fleet of these vehicles, which, by all reports, served the agency well). This vehicle was identified with shop/fleet number "83012" and featured the exempt license plate E999001. In the episode, "The Search," the Plymouth Belevedere was brought back for the one shot, where the car was ramped over the side of a small hill, in place of the Satellite, so that the current car would not be totaled in the shot.
The third style vehicle was the American Motors (AMC) Matador. The 1972 AMC Matador (introduced on September 22, 1971) was equipped with a 401-cid V8, and was probably the most widely recognized vehicle in the LAPD during run of the show. According to anecdotal information from former officers, the Matador's high power-to-weight ratio made them an almost ideal "pursuit" unit. They did, however, require more servicing than other makes in the fleet. According to current fan polling, it is still the favored car. The LAPD had a rigorous vehicle testing program (in conjunction with the L.A. County Sheriff's Office), and actually bought 534 of these vehicles for its patrol fleet. The Matador used in the show has the markings of "1–012" on the steady red/amber flashers, vehicle shop/fleet number ID#85012, and exempt license plate E999001 as well.
The series originally ran on the NBC television network from September 21, 1968 through May 20, 1975. This was followed by a long syndication run on many local television stations throughout the United States. Following this syndication run, Adam-12 found a new audience in the 1990s on TV Land. After an absence from widespread distribution, the series has reappeared on television where it is broadcast on the Retro Television Network.
A remake/update was attempted in 1990, starring Ethan Wayne, Peter Parros, and Miguel Fernandes, but this version, entitled The New Adam-12, ran for only two seasons in first-run syndication, in tandem with The new Dragnet.
Episodes from Adam-12 and Dragnet have been used for training purposes by Police academies in the United States, especially when teaching recruits correct handcuffing procedures, as the camera often zoomed in closely when the officers were in the act of handcuffing suspects. As was Jack Webb's practice, other minor facets of day-to-day police practices were also accurately portrayed, from hand signals used by officers to the methods used in field interviews, and even such minor details as routinely locking the doors of the patrol car before leaving it unattended to interview victims or witnesses.
Adam-12 was one of the first police shows, along with Dragnet 1967–70, in which arrestees were given the Miranda warning ("You have the right to remain silent"), which had only recently entered LAPD procedures. The frequent recital made the public so familiar with the warning that suspects in other parts of the country would correct actual officers whose agencies used a slightly different wording.
A 1976 doctoral study by Joseph S. Coppolino at New York University concluded that police officers, peace officers, and civilians all perceived the portrayals on Adam-12 as realistically reflecting police work. However, the trend between TV and reality sometimes went in reverse. For example, Coppolino noted in his thesis that while it was not customary for police officers to remove their hats while in the patrol car at the time the series began, after Adam-12 aired for a while, this became the habit of most officers. This could be seen as evidence of Marshall McLuhan's media theory that "we create it, then it creates us." (In the pilot episode, it was explained by Martin Milner's character to Kent McCord's character that the roof of the car was too low, therefore there was not enough room, to wear the cap inside the car, for that reason they were placed on the back seat.)
Coming soon... "Marc Bishops talks Adam-12 and Dragnet". Marc is a new friend of the website who worked on the production of Adam-12, Dragnet, Emergency and more. He knew Jack Webb personally as well as all the actors on many shows. I'm really excited to have Marc available for the website. I've talked with him on the phone and he has some great stories from the show and will be sharing them soon with you as well. Did you know Jack Webb had a German Shepard named "Friday"? The badges that Kent and Marty used on the show were real LAPD badges and that when the show was done shooting they went back to the Dept.? Trust me Marc has a ton of info. on the shows. I just have to figure out where to put it on the website.
(The Great Joe Friday)
April 2, 1920 - December 23, 1982
January 3, 1927 - December 29, 2004
June 27, 1933 - August 24, 1995
March 18, 1912 – September 25, 2010
Stephen J. Cannell
February 5, 1941 – September 30, 2010
April 10th 1915 - December 7, 2011
Dec. 13th, 1944 - June 15th 2013