Adam-12 worked in a clever little easter egg for fans of helicopters

Did you catch this call back to one of Lucille Ball's earliest hits?

Image: The Everett Collection

The Adam-12 episode "Log 34: Astro" is not, alas, a story in which the Jetsons' pet joins the K-9 unit. The "Astro Division" of the LAPD fights crime with helicopters. But "Log 34" still manages to work in a nifty reference to television's past, albeit a much deeper one.

At the start of the episode, Ed Wells (Gary Crosby) struts into the lounge wearing a baseball cap. Reed (Kent McCord) and Malloy (Martin Milner) razz him about his headwear. "Looks like you're gonna play little league," they tease. Wells brags that he is actually now part of the Astro unit. It takes "a keen, keen eye," he notes, what with the flying high above the streets part of the gig.

Later, at roll call, Sgt. MacDonald introduces the boys in blue to Lt. King, the head of the helicopter unit. When Adam-12 premiered on TV in 1968, the actual LAPD could count its copters on one hand. So this plot was certainly an exciting development to audiences. Today, the whirr of helicopter blades is part of the ambient noise to citizens of Los Angeles.

The Bell helicopter seen on Whirlybirds and in Adam-12

Anyway, there's something important to note about Lt. King. Kenneth Tobey plays the role! Get it?

No? We're here to explain the cool reference. From 1957–60, Tobey portrayed a character named Chuck Martin on Whirlybirds, an action series about helicopters. Desilu (yes, Lucille Ball's Desilu) produced the syndicated show that explored all the exciting adventures that could be had in helicoptering. You can see Tobey in the cockpit in the image up top.

The helicopter seen hovering later in the episode, a Bell 47G, was even a newer model of the Bell 47G seen on Whirlybirds.

Lucy herself would help popularize the aircraft. Lucy Ricardo hops aboard a Bell 47G in the I Love Lucy episode "Bon Voyage." That episode would lead to the idea to create a TV series about helicopters. And, thus, Whirlybirds was born.

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Wiseguy 1 month ago
Do you have any evidence it was a "reference"? It may be just a coincidence he was cast in this episode. They do happen in real life.
1drtep 1 month ago
The Whirlybirds was my favorite show as a sprout.
BrittReid 1 month ago
Good show, lasted three seasons. Always remember Kenneth Tobey in " The Thing From Another World" A classic film.
Tlor 1 month ago
Really liked the show, I married a guy who eventually worked on CH-53Echoes in the Marines.
jonethree 1 month ago
He was the captain fighting The Thing from Outer Space. Great movie
clarks58 1 month ago
We kept friend’s horse at dispatchers home in Granada Hills under the power lines.
Barry22 1 month ago
I remember that show when I was very young.
RadioMattM 1 month ago
He also played the guard at the gate In the movie Twelve O’Clock High.
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