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Series / The Mod Squad

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Left to right: Linc, Julie, Greer and Pete.
The Mod Squad is a television series that ran on ABC from September 24, 1968, until August 23, 1973. This series starred Michael Cole as Pete Cochran, Peggy Lipton as Julie Barnes, Clarence Williams III as Lincoln "Linc" Hayes, and Tige Andrews as Captain Adam Greer.

The Mod Squad was a police drama that featured three young, hip crime fighters. "One White, One Black, One Blonde," was the promotional hype-line. The basic premise was that three young people in trouble with the law (wealthy Pete stole a car; Linc was arrested during the Watts riots; Julie became a vagrant after running away from her San Francisco prostitute mother) can avoid jail by infiltrating the counterculture and exposing criminals who prey on other kids. The show's premise centered on the three young officers using their youthful, hippie personas as a guise to get close to the criminals they investigated.

A film version was made in 1999 starring Claire Danes, Omar Epps, and Giovanni Ribisi, but was a box office disappointment.

The Mod Squad contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Mine: In "The Cave," the team takes refuge in one to escape a dust storm, but a man crazed by the death of his son in "the war" blows the entrance with dynamite, trapping them inside.
  • As Himself: Danny Thomas, one of the series' Executive Producers, plays himself in the episode "Kicks, Incorporated". Perry Lemko (Jack Cassidy) meets up with him on the golf course and introduces him to his fellow players as 'My good friend, Danny Thomas!', while Danny is perplexed as he has no idea who Lemko is. In the end credits, it reads 'Danny Thomas as the Good Friend'.
  • Badass Preacher: Father John Banks (Sammy Davis Jr.), who takes down an armed thug twice his size in "Keep the Faith, Baby."
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: The opening credits always made it appear as if Captain Greer was some bad guy pursuing the heroes when he was in fact their benevolent boss.
  • Benevolent Boss: Captain Greer is concerned for the squad both as cops and as people. At the end of the day, he considers them family and is willing to go to the wall for them.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Pete and Linc are fiercely protective of Julie:
    Gandy (after Julie turns up missing): Please, they'll kill me!
    Pete: What do you think we're going to do?!
  • Blind Black Guy: Rollie in "When Smitty Comes Marching Home."
  • Blind Musician: Linc goes to see a friend, Rollie, in "When Smitty Comes Marching Home," and Rollie, wearing pure black glasses, is playing a clarinet.
  • Boxed Crook: The three primary heroes.
  • The Boxing Episode: "The Comeback," featuring "Sugar" Ray Robinson, Rocky Graziano and Indian Red Lopez, as well as boxing announcer Jimmy Lennon.
  • Celebration Miscalculation: The opening scene of "Whatever Happened to Linc Hayes?" has Pete, Linc, and Captain Greer throwing Julie a surprise birthday party...only for her to tell them her birthday isn't until the next month.
  • Circus Episode: "Color of Laughter, Color of Tears." A circus owned by an old friend of Greer's is sabotaged so the team works at the circus undercover to find the culprit.
  • Clear My Name: Pete is falsely accused of murder twice in the series, in "Run the Man Down", he's accused of killing an undercover cop he was once romantically involved with, and "Good Times Are Just Memories", he's accused of killing a police informant. Captain Greer is framed for being a dirty cop by a mobster in "Corbey".
  • Clip Show:
    • "A Time For Remembering" has the other characters reminiscing after Linc is shot by one of the people the squad put away in the pilot.
    • "Whatever Happened to Linc Hayes?" is a downplayed case. Clips from "Bad Man on Campus," "An Eye for an Eye," and "Who Are the Keepers, Who Are the Inmates?" are prominently featured as fragments of Linc's memories, but the episode has a substantive plot apart from them.
  • Crash Course Landing: Linc had to do this in "Real Loser" after he knocked the pilot of a small single-engine plane out (to keep the man from killing both of them in an insurance scam).
  • Creator Cameo: Gene Nelson, who directed the episode "Find Tara Chapman!", has a small role in the episode as Burt Koverly.
    • Richard Newton, who was the show's Associate Producer and occasional director, has a small role in the episode "Cry Uncle".
  • Death by Falling Over: A crooked cop accidentally kills his informant in "Good Times Are Just Memories", when he causes him to fall and hit his head on a rock.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Officers Cates and Stevens in "Shell Game", who run a burglary ring on the side. They're also responsible for the murder of a detective investigating the burglaries.
    • Sgt. Harry MacGeorge (Nehemiah Persoff) in "Is That Justice? No, It's Law!", who plants evidence to nail a drug pusher.
    • Lt. Price in "Good Times Are Just Memories", who's involved with a burglary ring and also the killer of an informant.
  • Disability Alibi: One of the people Pete suspects tried to kill him in "Death of a Nobody" is Johnny Pell (Brock Peters), but Pell is pretty much incapacitated due to a brain injury he suffered in prison.
  • Does Not Like Guns: One of the conditions for Pete, Linc and Julie working as cops is that they not be allowed to carry guns, to which Captain Greer agrees to. Subverted, in the first-season episode "A Reign of Guns", where Pete and Linc use guns to take down the villains.
    • Also subverted somewhat in "Good Times Are Just Memories". The cop (Leif Erickson) who's the real killer hands his gun to a perplexed Pete and instructs him to train it on him, 'just like in the good old days'.
  • Fake Pregnancy: Julie twice goes undercover as a woman in the early stages of pregnancy—once to infiltrate an adoption ring and again to expose an abortion ring.
  • The Film of the Series: In 1999 (starring Claire Danes, Omar Epps and Giovanni Ribisi as Julie, Linc and Pete, and Dennis Farina as Captain Greer).
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: At the beginning of "An Eye For an Eye," Captain Greer tastes some white powder to confirm that it's heroin.
  • I Have Your Wife: In "An Eye for an Eye," the villains of the week kidnap Captain Greer's girlfriend to pressure him into meeting their demands.
  • Identical Stranger: In "A Double for Danger," a young woman who was helping the police as an informant is killed, and Julie looks exactly like her, so she takes her place.
  • Identity Amnesia: In "Whatever Happened to Linc Hayes?" Linc is mugged and wakes up not knowing who he is. He eventually becomes convinced he is an escapee from a mental asylum.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In "A Time of Hyacinths," it's never completely clear whether John Wentworth was still alive or was actually a ghost.
  • Not in Front of the Parrot!: In "When Smitty Comes Marching Home," a mynah bird helps to establish the scene of a murder — a zoo.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: In "Who Are the Keepers, Who Are the Inmates?", Linc fakes being insane to go undercover in an asylum where he suspects abuse and even murder are taking place.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In "The Uptight Town," Chief Metcalf says he knows something happened to Captain Greer because he didn't show up for the police academy's graduation ceremony.
  • Papa Wolf: After Julie is kidnapped in "The Price of Terror" and her abductor calls to set his terms, Captain Greer tells him in no uncertain terms that he will kill him if Julie is harmed in any way whatsoever.
  • Psychic Powers: Dr. Eric Santos in "The Girl in Chair Nine." Julie's convinced of his abilities, but the others (especially Greer) spend most of the episode thinking he's a Phony Psychic. By the end, it seems clear he's the real deal.
  • Reunion Show: 1979's Return of the Mod Squad, where the Squad reunites to investigate an attack on now Deputy Chief Greer. It later turns out to be only a ruse for a revenge plot on the Squad itself.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: At the beginning of "When Smitty Comes Marching Home," some cops try to arrest a man for murder, but he sees them as Vietnamese soldiers. His time in the army made him a close-quarters combat specialist, which doesn't work out well for the police.
  • Shout-Out: In the episode "Kristie", writer Rick Husky, a member of Elvis Presley's 'Memphis Mafia', named a character Jerry Schilling, after a fellow Mafia member (the guy who wrote the best-selling "Elvis: What Happened?" after Elvis died). Additionally, the Schilling character works for Bondelli's Nursery...this is a shout-out to Phil Bondelli, the Assistant Director of Mod Squad.
    • In the episode "Long Road Home" two crooks attempt to hijack a truckload of furs from a truck bearing the name 'Zacha Furs Inc.' This is a shout-out to W.T. Zacha, who was the show's costumer at the time.
  • Smart People Play Chess: In "Can You Hear Me Now?", Walter, a friend of Linc's, is shown playing three games of chess simultaneously. He then shows Linc how to break a code a car-stealing ring was using.
  • Soul Brotha: Linc Hayes.
  • Spell My Name With An S: In the credits for the episode "Cricket", Harlan Warde's name is misspelled as Harlan Wade.
  • Split Personality: In "We Spy," the team is investigating a shady businessman, Endicott Farraday. They also meet his timid twin brother, Nelson, and at the end it turns out they're the same man.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Pete often tells Julie to not argue with him or to stay in the car away from the action. Linc occasionally gets in the on the act as well.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Linc wore sunglasses a lot, including at night.
  • Team Dad: Captain Greer is the Mod Squad's boss and mentor. He sees them as family.
  • Teen Superspy: Or rather, Teen Supercop, the protagonists being teenagers recruited as undercover cops to infiltrate the counterculture.
  • Token Trio: Perhaps the prototypical example.
  • True Companions: Pete, Linc, and Julie start thinking of one another as family no later than the third episode. Captain Greer also joins in relatively short order.
  • Two Guys and a Girl
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: In "When Smitty Comes Marching Home," some cops try to bring in a friend of Linc's on suspicion of murder, but he beats them up and runs off. Later on they get him, but he escapes and goes on a rampage to find the real killer (while the team is simultaneously investigating). In the end, he's exonerated and let go, though Greer does jokingly present him with a bill for a window he crashed through.