CBS’ S.W.A.T. has the same name, theme music and even title font as the 1970s cop drama on which it and the 2003 movie are based, but cast and executive producers promise that similarities to the original end there.
“I call it S.W.A.T. 2017 … we’re taking on the Trump years,” star Shemar Moore told TV critics at TCA.
Noting the pilot begins with the cop-shooting death of an unarmed teen, Moore said, “It’s not Black Lives Matter. It’s All Lives Matter. … It’s fear, it’s racism, it’s terrorism.”
One critic noted that CBS has a “rich history of shows” that are “very pro-police” and pro-military, wondering how EPs intend to balance that with what they were up onstage selling to them.
“Approach it honestly and in a grounded way,” EP Shawn Ryan responded. “I think you can be pro-police and also be pro-truth.” He said what fascinated him about the show was that it “looks at police and communities they are policing and figure out a way of bringing them closer together.”
EP Aaron Rahsaan Thomas pitched the series based on what he described as his childhood Kansas City neighborhood’s love-hate relationship with police officers, which included one neighbor victimized by cops and another who was a cop.
Ryan said he worried initially that CBS did not really want the story Thomas wanted to tell but repeatedly has been assured otherwise by CBS execs.
“I want the camera to show all aspects of Los Angeles,” Ryan said. “I want to see how the cops deal with people. I want to see how the people deal with cops.”
Viewers “recognize the truth, appreciate the truth and will embrace the truth when you show it to them,” Ryan said.
The Shield, Ryan said of his long-running FX series, was a much more cynical view of interactions between cop and community than S.W.A.T. “I was in a better mood when I signed up for this show,” he joked.
During his years making The Shield, Ryan described himself as “amazed at the lengths viewers went to explain and apologize for Vic Mackey’s behavior. “Only later I realized they came to love him as a human being, and they want him to succeed even though they don’t root for what his ultimate goals are,” he said.
“I don’t want to overplay the social impact of the show,” he added. “We intend to be an entertaining show [and] I think we can tell a story that gets into what works about the system” and what does not.
“To me, the honor is in the attempt,” he said.
S.W.A.T., inspired by the 2003 Sony movie that was based on the 1975 ABC series produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg, is described by CBS as an intense, action-packed procedural. It follows locally born-and raised Lt. Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson (Moore), torn between loyalty to the streets and duty to his fellow officers when he’s tasked with running a unit that is the last stop for crime solving in Los Angeles.
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