There can be no doubt that cop shows are like bread and butter over at CBS. Many of them have different gimmicks and methods of presentation, but it’s next to impossible to dismiss their enduring popularity. After all, NCIS and Criminal Minds have been on the air for well over ten seasons due to a good mix of humor, action, and investigative drama.
With all of those elements in mind, how does Shawn Ryan’s reboot of S.W.A.T. stack up to its competition? To put it simply, it’s the best police drama since Flashpoint.
The Cast Works Well.
Shemar Moore leads the cast with a great performance as Sergeant Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson. While some may make comparisons to his run on Criminal Minds, he differentiates himself by giving Hondo quite a bit of depth. He fits the bill as a natural leader who has to earn a few stripes in command, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with his new status as a leading man.
Alex Russell and Stephanie Sigman deliver good performances as Officer Jim Street and Captain Jessica Cortez, respectively. Russell does a lot with his portrayal of a somewhat reckless officer of the law, but the writing gives him further room to grow. On the other side of things, Sigman imbues Cortez with a balance of authority and romantic intrigue that is always nice to see.
The rest of the cast does well in their respective roles, but the show needs some time to give them interesting quirks. I think that Jay Harrington and Lina Esco stand out the most, partly because of the episode “Imposters.” They have not received a lot of screen time, but I am confident that the writers will provide a sense of balance down the road.
Take The Case.
S.W.A.T. may be based on a 1975 series and a 2003 movie, but it takes its modernized, action-heavy presentation from shows like Flashpoint. There are constant firefights and plenty of sudden twists, which is catnip for binge watchers and casual viewers alike. With that said, the show backs up all of the fighting with some of the strangest cases that I’ve ever seen in a police drama.
“Radical” is the perfect example of an episode that plays with expectations in a unique way. At first, one might expect Islamic terrorists because of what is going on in the world. However, the writing swerves from that obvious chestnut into a dark look at what might come from American college campuses in the near future.
In short, the writing provides a few surprises that are worthy of your attention.
It’s Not Perfect.
Like most police dramas, S.W.A.T. works in a few silly Hollywood gimmicks for the sake of simplicity. In most cases, the main cast does all of the work on the weekly case, including the investigative aspects of it. Actual SWAT Teams tend to focus on hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, drug raids, and other missions like that, so it may seem odd to anyone who is remotely familiar with the police.
Certain plot conveniences come up from time to time due to the show’s format. For instance, Jim Street’s subplot in “Pamilya” is resolved with no real indication of his mother’s true nature. It seems like the director cut a scene or two out of that episode for time, even though that plot deals with a critical part of Jim’s characterization!
If you’re in the mood for a good cop show, you could do a hell of a lot worse than S.W.A.T. The cast is excellent, the cases are a lot of fun, and the action is intense enough to hold the attention of an audience. While it may have a few flaws, I am confident that the creative team can iron those out in due time.
For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy some ass-kicking entertainment. That’s what we all want, isn’t it?
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