Whoop! Whoop! That’s The Sound Uh Da Police! #SWAT #3weekroundup #CBS #recap #review
All pictures courtesy of CBS
Here we are again with another late-season three-week roundup of a brand new (read: completely old and overdone) show. On deck this time, we have CBS’s latest remake/reboot of the police drama S.W.A.T. While I’d like to hand it to them this time for picking a decade other than the 80s to finally remake something from, I can’t help but still feel a certain turning anguish in my stomach at the fact that we are getting yet another remake. Granted, this is of a very pedestrian idea, but there are so many pedestrian ideas out there that haven’t been explored that it somehow gives me pause to see a new show and/or network (or a film and film studio for that matter) trade on an easily recognizable name over even considering something that could be wholly different. Yes, there are thousands of stories one can tell that are centered around the S.W.A.T. team, especially in this day of mass shootings galore and terrorists supposedly running to every corner of the earth, but there’s other agencies that we could explore and in very intriguing ways. But again, since this is so on-the-head obvious, I guess I can give it a pass as it is another cop show and, frankly, they’re all alike anyway. So, is this newest iteration of S.W.A.T. a battering ram in the right direction or will it just be another flash(bang) in the pan? Let’s find out together!
CBS’s new 2017 SWAT (from here on out I will not be putting periods between the letters) stars Shemar Moore (most recently of Criminal Minds fame) as Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson who is one of the leaders of the Special Weapons and Tactics force of Los Angeles. The little bit of twist this time around from what I’ve read (I don’t actually know because I never saw the original) is that this black Daniel, like every black cop character apparently, has a connection to the very streets over which he now “presides.” Side note: Why is it that every black or Latino character who plays a cop has to have the same played connection to the streets but the white guys usually just get to be cops? Seriously? I really try to keep this blog non-political and try to stay away from commenting about feminism, race, religion and the like, but what is it with that? At some point they almost always deliver a, “Hey, but I got outta that life” speech and/or a, “but people like me seeing people like me, black people for them and not against them...” speech too, signaling that they became cops because they want to put a stop to this notion that minorities don’t respect the law or that good cops do exist or that cops can have a positive influence on society or something like that. It’s never that the black or Latino guy became a cop because they just wanted to stop bad guys. Now I’ve gone on a rant at the beginning of the review which is definitely no good. Let me hop back on track. No race stuff from here out. Maybe. No promises.
|Hondo and Deacon in foreground, Christina and Tan in back|
Daniel is put in charge of his unit over another qualified senior SWAT member after the previous leader shot and nearly killed a black kid during the opening raid. Some weapons runners were in the middle of a deal and took off running through the streets and jumping on rooftops and houses, which is, apparently, a thing in LA because they did the same thing in Straight Outta Compton. Well, Hondo uses the opportunity to prove his badassdom by beating up one of the runners and shooting one in the head within seconds, sniping a guy from 30 feet away. The leader tries to shoot one of the other runners but errantly hits a black teenager. Because of this, and LA being what it is, the police chief and mayor decide to fire the old leader and promote the black Hondo over the white guy who was next in line, one sergeant David “Deacon” Kay who looks like the next oldest guy on the team.
Through the first three episodes, not much is given on Deacon’s character per se, but you do get a sense of who he is. A family man, he is a strong, rather silent type who, while he clearly feels the burn of being passed over for a job which should’ve been his, is hardly fuming about it as much as the many petty people that populate this world would fume. But to his credit, Hondo has been a good leader so far and has even consulted Deacon on the moves they should make in a particular stakeout, but that’s not until episode three.
Along with Deacon and Hondo, we also have Dominique Luca who is the older lock-and-step guy who does what his commanding officer tells him to do but is a crack-up when not in the field. A SWAT lifer, he is the womanizer who refuses to commit to anyone or anything outside of the job. His father was a SWAT member and so was his grandfather, making him third generation badass. We also have Victor Tan who is, for all intents and purposes, our token Asian character through the first three episodes. With so much going on with everyone else, he hasn’t earned the character spotlight and, if I’m being honest, has nearly melted into the background like ice cream into my belly (and you thought I was gonna say pavement, didn’t ya? Nope! Went with the clumsier simile). I think he also said that he’s married but I can’t be certain. And I also don’t remember him doing anything of real note, so... Yeah. Next we have Christina “Chris” Alonso (side note: because I hate girls using boy’s names and because it might get confusing with later references, I will call her Christina) who is the Latina of the group. She is a softer version of Michelle Rodriguez’s character from the Fast and the Furious franchise. She’s Leti 2.0—the version that came back to the franchise after they killed her off earlier, then brought her back more caring and nurturing. Christina’s kickass-ness is quite evident and she seems to have better detective skills than some of the others on the team, Hondo excluded. She is also young and is one half of a “duo” that represents the millennial generation (the actor playing Tan is technically a millennial but I’m not sure if the character is or not).
The other half of the duo is newbie Jim Street, played by Alex Russell of The Chronicle fame. Hand-picked by the exiting squad leader, he is your quintessential young maverick/death-wisher who runs gung-ho into any situation. We see him first zooming through the downtown streets of LA on his motorcycle, racing to get to work and tailed by a patrol unit of cops who have no idea who he is. He shows up late to his first day and in the dressed-down tactical uniform. He changes out of that and joins the rest of the group.
After the opening salvo, the community where the black boy got shot is up in arms about yet another police shooting. They organize an outside protest rally for change for their little neighborhood and the city as a whole. SWAT goes to walk around in their plain blue uniforms, meeting people in the community and patrolling the gathering. This is the best they come up with to mitigate the disaster that was the shooting of the kid. While there, Jim flirts with Christina and I don’t know if it’s the actor who is just always happy-go-lucky in real life or if that is how the character is sorta supposed to be played, but you can tell straight away that even though she is turning down his advances because they work together, she is totally going to give him some eventually. She gave this tiny flinch of a smile that looked like she was holding back from jumping his bones that night in favor of the, “Nah, I’mma make you work for this” trope, which I am totally down for. I have no idea why, but I really liked this. I’m jumping ahead.
|Jim Getting The Chew From Hondo And Deacon|
The main speaker at the rally is a young man who had a family member also suffer gun violence and police malfeasance not too long ago. As he is up on the dais making his speech, someone starts shooting and guns down one of the other people right beside him. Jim takes off toward the shooter with little regard for his safety or his team. He loses the shooter after showing some pretty impressive Spider-man skills. Hondo and the team have to chew him a little and they go back to the station.
Hondo learns the chief commanding officer in charge of all the SWAT units in the city wants to handle the job with a sledgehammer rather than some finesse, and he ain’t goin’ for it. Instead of roughing people up, Hondo takes the “this is my hood” approach so often used by the black cop in these shows/movies. He goes around the city with his squad and asks some of the locals, stopping first at a salon, which leads him to a street-hustling BBQ master, which finally leads him to a towing company that was seen fleeing the rally on the day of the shootings.
Well, the towing company is run by some ex-military dudes (mostly white) who look tough but SWAT’s got nothing on them for now. So Hondo makes a stop over at the shot-kid’s hospital room. He’s alive and awake and surrounded by family and the black activist dude. Hondo says some encouraging words about how he was once in the same streets and how it’s tough but the kid will make it and about how the police are not there to be enemies to anyone. He then gets some intel from the activist dude who said that he knew some ex-military sniper who was supposedly into the movement but more from a “the government is corrupt” standpoint rather than a “Black Lives Matter” view.
Hondo and the squad go to this sniper dude’s house to find that the other towing ex-military people live there to. They figure out that not only are these guys some of the people that were involved in buying the guns at the beginning of the episode but that they also shot the black people at the rally. They are trying to cause a race war not because they believe in white power or the oppression of blacks but because they are trying to bring down the entire system of the government and hoping the city will rip itself apart in utter chaos.
Well, Hondo splits his team. He gets to the roof of a building to stop the sniper who has promised to kill a bunch of grade-schoolers only to find that the threat is a decoy and they really plan to rob a very important bank and start the domino in bankrupting the city(?). It kinda got convoluted at that point but by then it was only ten minutes left in the episode and I was ready for the wrap up.
The bad guys have a rocket launcher that they use once on a truck. Hondo and his team manage to stop the baddies and fight them in the street. Jim shows that he can definitely fight and be good at the job, but still gets saved by Hondo and the day is saved.
|Jessica and Hondo; They Actually Make A Cute Couple When Dressed Down... And Naked|
On a side note, one of their superiors Jessica Cortez is sleeping with Hondo. But because she is younger than him, a woman, and higher-ranking, at the start of the episode she wants to officially put in the paperwork to declare their relationship. But when Hondo gets the promotion, she then becomes his direct superior which makes her want to break it off, and you can just tell that Hondo wants part-time custody of her bed sheets (he’ll come by and hit it on the weekends). And as much as she is objecting, you can tell she’s gonna cave. A lot of this show is predictable, but it’s the first few episodes so... what can you expect?
Episode two sees them open with a training exercise on a meth lab setpiece. There, as they go through the raid and look into room after room of meth makers without firing a single shot, newbie Jim takes off once again on his own and winds up taking one of the meth lab workers down but getting shut with a sticky arrow in the back of the head by a secondary SWAT training officer/meth maker. His team lost the exercise do to his freestyling without the team, and if it was real life he would’ve gotten killed. They break from the exercise only for the chief over the SWAT units to come and privately talk to Deacon about the racial tension having died down in the city and how he can now go back and make Deacon the new squad leader and, I guess demote Hondo? It’s all very hush-hush and Deacon really isn’t having it because he, at the very least, is a man of integrity.
Meanwhile, as the squad is going through more practice drills, across town a county jail transport goes horribly wrong when the cousin of a big bad criminal breaks him out of the transport. See, the lead prisoner and three others were being transported to prison and were inside of a building with a glass elevator. The lead prisoner’s cousin came and shot up the guards, posed as a guard himself and they made off with the lead prisoner and the other criminals who had to escape too because they were all chained together. I’ll say I was actually surprised that the lead prisoner and his cousin didn’t just kill the other criminals once they escaped because he would’ve had to know that by finding the other criminals, the police could potentially interrogate them and then find him. And that’s exactly what the SWAT unit tries to do.
Not only is an escaped prisoner troubling the city, Hondo’s non-girlfriend girlfriend and boss Jessica (she has a desk job but used to be a patrolwoman; everybody is a cop) is the person who busted the lead escaped criminal. If she knows one thing, it is that this guy is all about the vengeance. Loves the vengeance. So she is concerned most about the woman whose testimony put him away. That woman is a single mom with two children, one of which was used as a carving board for the lead criminal. As it turns out the lead criminal was a rapist and pedophile who used to sleep with young teenage girls. There mighta been some murdering stuff in there too, but I can’t remember as they only mentioned it once. It’s a good probability that the single mom and her family need protection but because the police unit is already tight on fund allocation, the head honcho will never approve of it. So Hondo takes it upon himself to jump ahead and assign Christina and Jim to the woman’s house as a safety detail. Naturally, they get their flirt on without really flirting, talking about the latest dating apps and such.
As Christina and Jim are getting familiar with each other at the single mom’s house, Hondo has split the rest of the team up to go and collect the various criminals around the city, the very plan I knew they’d try. They believe they can get the other accidental escapees to rat on where the rapist dude might be or at least where he dropped them off. So they trick the black criminal’s friend into telling them that the black criminal sometimes frequents his sister’s place; then they find the exotic animal smuggler back at his home feeding the crazy exotic animals because they haven’t been fed since he was arrested I guess; and they also find some other dude doing something else.
None of that leads them to the rapist. But then Christina and Jim notice that this teenage boy has been riding back and forth in front of the single mom’s house like he’s casing the joint. They and Hondo ask if he’s reconning for the rapist but he explains that he wants to kill the escapee just as bad. He even says that he’s been bouncing between the single mom’s house and his cousin’s house because the rapist always claimed that the young teenage girl living there was his bride and belonged with him. So Hondo and the group go over there to find the rapist there, leaving Christina and Jim behind on the detail. No, they’re not done protecting the family. In fact, the rapist’s brother comes to get the single mom and her kids who go and hide in the bathroom. Jim tells the little boy some story about how he had to be a little man when he was younger and how that’s the kid’s responsibility now and how the kid can calm himself down during times of stress. Well, the kid does the thing and we get to see none of the kickass-ing that Christina and Jim do to the brother, but they do take him down.
As it turns out, the rapist is not only at the other young girl’s house but escapes out the back with her. Now they need to figure out where he might go. They hear something from one of the other re-captured escapees and/or the girl’s father about some cabin, discover that his aunt had a cabin which is still listed as existing outside the city and not belonging to anyone, and they load up and get going. We get a huge shootout between the rapist and SWAT and even have Hondo come riding in on a helicopter. Hondo, being the capeless superhero he is, magically has the best shot from up high when the rapist steps to the window using the girl as a shield. He shoots the guy’s brains out and the day is saved. We also got a little back and forth with Hondo and Jessica about their relationship and his unspoken bad boy promises that he’s still gonna come over every now and then and tap, flip and lick it, and she’s caving. She wants to be bad. Secret romance that’s forbidden at work? Like Brandy sang back in the 90s, she “wanna be dow-ow-own!”
Episode three opens wiith them doing typical SWAT stuff: a raid on a heroin smuggling ring. Nestled inside what looks like a pretty nice apartment complex, they get some good intel about some people smuggling drugs and go to raid the place. They bumrush the door and immediately people scatter. They catch a few of the people, gun others down, then return to the apartment to find a fairly clean room. There’s no coke, no ex, no nothing inside. If this was a drug den at one point then they have surely missed the—boomp! They hear a subtle sound come from somewhere in the back and open up a room to find a bunch of people crowded into a room no bigger than a janitor’s closet at a rundown elementary school. One man, the “lead mule” is the only one who can speak English. They get his name out of him and some gobblety gook about wanting to be in America or something and then he starts rubbing on his stomach, foaming at the mouth and collapses in front of them. He’s overdosing on the copious amounts of burst condoms full of heroin.
As it turns out the people in the closet were all Filipino immigrants who were being forced to be drug mules, and now the team has to figure out who is behind this ring. Also, they learn that the people in the closet (sounds like an off-Broadway gay musical about an entire gay club in some straight-laced Republican dude’s closet) are actually only halves or partial families. So they have to find the families as well.
While that investigation is going on, we get some more background for Jim. In the first episode, we learned that the SWAT leader that was fired was the same cop that busted Jim’s mom. Her crime: she killed her boyfriend who was abusing her and little Jim when he was young. Zoom forward to episode three when we actually see Jim visiting his mother in prison. She is still in there for a while (maybe for life) but she looks good. Actually, if you watch a lotta TV you will notice that his mother is Sherilyn Fenn who played Audrey on Twin Peaks. Anyway, she tells her son that one of the girls who she is close with in jail is getting out soon and that the woman is scared that her ex (a supposed abuser) is going to find her and get violent with her again. She just wants Jim to go over to the guy and warn him off of this woman, rough him up if he needs to. He promises to do so.
Back to the main story, the team starts to search for the strands that lead back to the people behind the smuggling ring. Remember we’re not only dealing with drug smugglers, but also human traffickers and extortionists. So this has to be a pretty big ring. They discover that all of the people in the closet were asssociated with this one particular pastor/priest. Because the lead mule is still struggling to live and is currently unconscious in a hospital bed, the priest tells the cops that they all worked for this same cleaning and hospitality agency. So they go to the place, which supplies workers for a lot of medical properties like nursing homes or places where “not a lot of Americans want to clean out bed pans.” A white guy, he tells them that he hires a lot of immigrants because they are willing to work the nasty jobs for a visa, but that he has outsourced his hiring to this one guy because this guy speaks Filipino.
Well, cut through the BS, SWAT chase around the HR guy, then a few others only to end up back in the white guy’s house. They figure that it actually was the white guy the entire time. So they go to his wife and, surprise, surprise, his wife is Filipino (I don’t think the actress is actually Filipino but some other Asian ethnicity. I’ve seen her play a few different Asian characters). And I’m like, “Well, it was her the whole time.” But apparently the one cop (who is not part of Hondo’s SWAT team) doesn’t realize this. He turns his back on her and gets shot when he turns back around.
The woman and her husband get to a private airport where they try to take off in a private jet but are stopped. The husband caves quicker than a knifed souffle and tells the team everything while she resists saying anything. She’s a gangster. With the husband’s intel, they find the rest of the families before they die from suffocation while locked away in a shipping container.
Back with Jim, he goes to rough up the dude for his mom and gets arrested for throwing paws with the guy who is totally not feeling anything he’s saying. Well, Hondo discovers the real intel about Jim’s mom and goes to visit her in prison. It turns out that prison has corrupted her. Now Jim’s mom is a seller of contraband and the guy on the outside was working with this woman on the inside who was never actually getting paroled but is Jim’s mom’s competition. Hondo warns her off of ever contacting her son again, or at least for a good long while because he doesn’t need that kind of distraction in his life right now. Oh, and there was a tiny thing about Dominique needing a place to stay and depending on his SWAT brethren and sisteren to house him for a while because his latest girl kicked him out. Take a guess of who he stays with.
Dominique and Hondo
What’s my grade? I give it a B+. It’s strange that I enjoyed this show because it’s a typical procedural drama that literally adds nothing new to the plethora of cop shows we have on the horizon of TV. But as a procedural, it is decent. The problem with the series is that it’s just decent. It’s not flashy, nothing heavily intricate and is predictable at nearly every turn, yet it’s entertaining for what it is. I’ve said that a few times this new TV season and for those that don’t know what it means, it means that you should know what you are getting the moment you see the commercial for the show. It’s just like every other cop show. And that’s the problem, but only if you’re looking for something new and innovative.
The show is also very strange in that it takes SWAT, which is known for being the tactical team that comes in when a situation gets out of hand, and turns them (or at least the public’s general idea of them) into your basic detective unit. In the first three episodes they did more detective work than both Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling did in the two Blade Runner movies. It makes me wonder what the other cops do.
Then we have the stereotypes within the show. They get it right with all of the minority inclusion, and it was about time that Shemar Moore got to lead his own show (yes, he was a big part of Criminal Minds but not the lead), but the writing is more typical of a lot of white writers sitting around thinking about what other minorities do, rather than having ethnic writers. I’m sure they do have minority writers, but something about the black guy having come from “the hood” is such a played motif that I groaned at the very mention of it. But I digress.
Should you be watching? Sure, if you like shows where the good guys always catch the bad guys and procedurals are generally your thing. If stuff like Criminal Minds, Chicago PD and the like are what you enjoy, then go for it. This is an acceptable remake to a show that, in and of itself, was not all that great. I can’t really be mad at an average show that has produced an average show. And SWAT wins a few brownie points for having adopted and adapted the old theme song to both make it current while not sullying the catchiness of the original tune. But if you are looking for something with a little more dramatic depth, then this probably isn’t the show for you. Ultimately, SWAT is a bubblegum show that tastes good for a while but quickly goes flavorless after a few commercial breaks. Will you be talking about it the next day at the watercooler? Probably not. But the cases could get interesting and they do a good job at establishing all of their characters while leaving plenty of room for intriguing developments. SWAT airs on CBS Thursdays at 10pm.
What do you think? Have you heard of the new TV remake of SWAT? If you haven’t, do you think you would check it out now? If you have heard of it, have you seen it? Do you like it? What do you think they can improve? Do you think that Deacon will betray Hondo? And will Jim find out about Hondo talking to his mom? And what do you think about the relationships between Hondo and Jessica, and Jim and Christina? Let me know in the comments below.
Check out my 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking. If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER, #BrandNewHome or the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 are out NOW, exclusively on Amazon. Stay connected here for updates on season 4 coming summer 2018. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Look for the mysterious Sci-fi episodic novella series Extraordinary on Amazon. Season 2 of that coming real soon. And look for the mystery novels The Knowledge of Fear #KnowFear and The Man on the Roof #TMOTR coming this fall/winter. Twisty novels as good as Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, you won’t want to miss them. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.
Until next time, “Hi, 911? Yeah, there’s a giant pitcher of red liquid walking around the house across the street. I’m getting nervous and I think he has a bomb.”
‘Have you seen a bomb?’
“No, but he keeps talking about an explosion... of flavor.
“Oh god, he’s coming this way. Ahhh! He just burst through the wall of my house. [background noise: ‘Oh yeah!’] He’s terrorizing me with Kool-Aid goodness! Help!”
P.S. But on a serious note, swatting is a very serious and very dangerous practice done by quite a few idiots out there. If ever it is done to you make sure that you don’t panic, get down low, do not resist and calmly explain what has happened. I’ll try to come up with a much better, shorter sign-off next time.