Adam-12 star Kent McCord on how the show redefined police portrayal on TV

Adam-12 created a new face of justice.

NBC/Universal

It's hard now, in hindsight, to quantify just how important Adam-12 may have been in terms of police-citizen relations. The show gave the profession two clean-cut, competent, authoritative faces with which the public could identify the police.

Martin Milner and Kent McCord— the show's Officer Pete Malloy and Officer Jim Reed, respectively— were a far cry from the Keystone Cops and other bumbling versions of the profession typically portrayed in media.

In 2022, Kent McCord spoke with Boomer Magazine about the show's impact, his co-star, and why the formula continues to resonate with audiences today. 

"The charm of Adam-12 was its simplicity," said McCord. "Just two cops in a black-and-white [squad car] patrolling the streets of Los Angeles. The moral of the story was simple— crime doesn't pay."

Those two cops may have seemed simple to McCord, but in reality, they were two of the most complex characters in police media. Officers Reed and Malloy were afforded rich interior lives, which actively humanized not just the characters, but also the vocation they were called to.

McCord remembered meeting his co-star, Martin Milner. Milner was 10 years older than McCord and was visibly restless as the two waited for a car to take them on-location for the show's pilot episode.

"Marty was yawning and told me how he couldn't sleep the night before beginning a new show," said McCord. "I'd had a restless evening too, so hearing that from a veteran actor was very reassuring. From that moment on our relationship was cemented." 


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