Meet Pete, Linc and Julie: The Mod Squad. This trio consisted of rich, long-haired Pete Cochran, Lincoln "Linc" Hayes from the tough streets of inner city Los Angeles, and beautiful flower child Julie Barnes, a runaway from San Francisco. Theyre recruited by police captain Adam Greer (Tiger Andrews) for a covert unit that will help bridge the generation gap. Each week these three cops with love beads wrestled with criminals and their own consciences. They may have been the "fuzz," but they were determined to never compromise their values. They were The Mod Squad!
Revisiting this groovy, groundbreaking 1968 series is anything but a bum trip! The Mod Squad
was a hip makeover of the traditional cop show. The Squad was comprised of three "lonely, angry kids," one black, one white, one blonde: "Linc" Hayes (Clarence Williams III), a soul brother from Watts; privileged rebel Pete Cochran (Michael Cole), who split from his 14-room home in Beverly Hills; and runaway Julie Barnes (quintessential hippie chick Peggy Lipton), described as "a "canary with a broken wing." Their mentor is Capt. Adam Greer (the late Tige Andrews), who bucks his superiors to form the squad. "The times are changing," he argues. "They can get into places we can't," like a high school to solve a teacher's murder, an underground newspaper plagued by a bomber, and an acting class to flush out a strangler who preys on blonde actresses. The trio are perfectly matched, with Cole doing his tortured James Dean bit and Williams simply the coolest cat on TV (undercover as a high school teacher, Linc calms the unruly students by asking them how they want to learn about the Civil War: "the book version, or like it was?" Julie is all too often a damsel in distress when she's not being used as bait.
The Mod Squad bridged the generation gap. Kids dug that the Squad walked the walk and talked the talk ("Solid"), didn't carry heat, and didn't bust their own. Adults dug Capt. Greer, who played "Mr. Tough Cop," but was more like a father figure, and was anything but square. "What do I have to do to win your trust?" he thunders in the episode "The Guru," "wear beads?" He does let his guard down in the memorable episode "The Price of Terror," in which he is being stalked. The Mod Squad got further cred from a roster of veteran character actors, many cast against type in villainous roles, including J. Pat O'Malley (the voice of Colonel Hathi in Disney's The Jungle Book) in "Bad Man on Campus." It's also fun to spot future stars, such as future Oscar-winner Louis Gossett Jr. as a falsely accused Vietnam vet in "When Smitty Comes Marching Home." And that uniformed cop who gets the drop on Pete in the pilot episode? An unbilled Harrison Ford!
There is no cast commentary, but this four-disc set contains new interviews with Cole and a still ravishing Lipton that put the show in pop-culture context. A warning: If you love The Mod Squad's classic theme song: It is used ad nauseum in one of the featurettes to punch up some 1968 factoids. But that's the only bummer in this otherwise far-out release. --Donald Liebenson