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The Journal Gazette

  • CBS Shemar Moore stars in “S.W.A.T.,” which premieres Thursday on CBS.

Sunday, October 29, 2017 1:00 am

'S.W.A.T.' reboot looks at police, communities

Jay Bobbin | Zap2it

Many of the names – starting with the title – and some of the theme music will be familiar to fans of a 1970s action series.

Originally made by TV mega-producer Aaron Spelling and current “Blue Bloods” supplier Leonard Goldberg, the police drama “S.W.A.T.” gets a CBS reboot starting Thursday.

“Criminal Minds” alum Shemar Moore assumes Steve Forrest's earlier role as Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson, leader of an elite Special Weapons and Tactics Team ... but the new incarnation of the character often is torn, having to play cop (literally) on the Los Angeles streets where he grew up.

Those who know the original show also will recognize the names of officers Jim Street (Alex Russell, succeeding Robert Urich), “Deacon” Kay (Jay Harrington, in Rod Perry's '70s part) and Dom Luca (“The Shield's” Kenny Johnson, taking over from Mark Shera). Stephanie Sigman, who shared the lengthy single-camera opening sequence of “Spectre” with Daniel Craig's James Bond, and Lina Esco (“Kingdom”) star as well.

Along with filmmaker Justin Lin (“Fast & Furious”), the executive producers of “S.W.A.T.” include Shawn Ryan, the mentor of the gritty, aforementioned “The Shield.” He maintains the way to do “S.W.A.T.” now is “honestly, and in a grounded way. I think the characters are heroes, and I think you can be pro-police and yet also be pro-truth, but there are certain instances and times and events that shouldn't happen. That's what fascinated me about this show, to look at the police and the communities that they're policing, and figure out if there is a way to bring these communities closer together.”

Ryan admits he wasn't sure how much CBS would want to delve into that theme within the type of procedural show the network is known for, but he maintains its executives “really encouraged us to tell the story and tell the truth that we wanted to tell. I was very sort of moved by that.”

Moore continues his relationship with CBS after his long tenures on “The Young and the Restless” and “Criminal Minds,” and he claims the series reflects “just what's happening today. It's Black Lives Matter, and as much as some people don't want to hear it, it's All Lives Matter. It's not just black vs. blue or black vs. white. It's every ethnicity. It's fear. It's racism. It's terrorism. It's subject matter of today.

“I don't want us to preach to you. It's not going to be heavy. This is 'S.W.A.T.' You're going to have a good time. It's a thrill ride. It's everything you know 'S.W.A.T.' to be, but I really believe we're going to surprise you.”

The timing of “S.W.A.T.'s” return is significant, since this year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of metropolitan Los Angeles' first such team.

“I've known a lot of cops over the years as I've worked in television,” Ryan reflects. “A lot of them, I really admire. We are all aware of the stories of cops doing things and behaving in ways that we don't agree with, and I spent seven years working on a show that highlighted that ('The Shield'). I think there's a way to try to bridge the gap between those two, and that's what this show is going to try to do.”