In 2002, Shawn Ryan presented a controversial new take on the cop show with The Shield. Here was a drama where the protagonists were almost indiscernible from the criminals they attempted to put away. Now, Ryan teams with Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, a former writer and producer on Numbers and Friday Night Lights, for a new series that’s about as far removed as possible from the gritty world of The Shield.
S.W.A.T. is a slick police procedural where the cops wear white hats and utilize the latest technologies to fight crime. The pilot was directed by Justin Lin and he certainly set the visual style for S.W.A.T. of armored vehicles with blaring sirens racing through the streets. This newest iteration is a worthy successor to the original 70’s show though it has more in common with the 2003 feature film.
Shemar Moore takes the lead as the charismatic Sgt. Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson, who took command of the SWAT team after the accidental shooting of an unarmed civilian by their previous commander. Under Hondo’s watchful eye is the former motorcycle-riding bad boy Jim Street (Alex Russell) who has taken a couple seasons to deal with an abusive childhood and a drug-addled manipulative mother; Chris Alonso (Lina Esco), the team’s only female member; Sgt. David “Deacon” Kay (Jay Harrington), a devout family and 10-year veteran of the force; Dominique Luca (Kenny Johnson), who feels the pressure of following in the footsteps of his SWAT father; and Victor Tan (David Lim), a transfer from Vice Squad.
Season 3 begins with a rough patch as Captain Jessica Cortez (Stephanie Sigman) transferred to the FBI and is replaced by Lt. Piper Lynch (Amy Farrington). SWAT and Lynch have a far more acrimonious relationship with the latter being more political and close guarded.
The writers of S.W.A.T. have attempted to walk that middle ground of unchallenging CBS primetime fare and dealing with hot button topics. In the past, we’ve seen Hondo deal with being pulled over by a racist state trooper. This season sees Chris run afoul of city hall after arresting the deputy mayor’s son for DUI. They also tackle issues of PTSD and suicide about as well as they can in under an hour. However, recent real-life events have proven it would be impossible not to deal with racism and police brutality. In fact, the original season finale (which was never filmed due to COVID) would have flashed back to the LA riots of 1992.
Season 3 of S.W.A.T. is presented in a 5-disc set. The episodes included are:
“Fire in the Sky” – The city of Los Angeles is on high alert when a disgruntled veteran uses drones loaded with explosives to target the military.
“Bad Faith” – SWAT is called in when an infamous cult leader escapes from prison and seeks to gather her wayward flock.
“Funny Money” – Hondo bumps heads with Lt. Lynch when she drops Street and Alonso into an undercover operation to take down a counterfeiting ring.
“Immunity” – Deacon’s family become targets when SWAT attempts to take down a drug dealer who is protected by the CIA.
“The LBC” – SWAT and the Long Beach Police Dept join forces to track down a hijacked cache of assault weapons.
“Kingdom” – SWAT provides protection for a Middle Eastern activist who has been targeted by extremists.
“Track” – SWAT hunts down a violent robbery crew who have stolen a high-tech thermal lance that can cut through anything.
“Lion’s Den” – Hicks is taken hostage during a tense standoff with a family desperate to save their home from eviction.
“Sea Legs” – SWAT assists the Organized Crime division when one of their undercover agents is discovered by a human trafficking ring.
“Monster” – Hondo reflects on his past in the military when SWAT hunts down a former Somali warlord wanted for war crimes.
“Bad Cop” – SWAT faces off with a robbery crew hitting casinos while Street’s loyalties are tested when his foster brother is in debt with a notorious drug dealer.
“Good Cop” – The SWAT team pulls out all the stops to help Street who has secretly gone undercover to take down a drug running operation.
“Ekitai Rashku” – SWAT goes international to track down an escaped fugitive in Tokyo.
“Animus” – SWAT springs into action to take down a lone gunman targeting random women.
“Knockout” – A renowned boxer is forced to throw his next match unless SWAT can save his pregnant wife from kidnappers.
“Gunpowder Treason” – The abduction of a teenage boy leads SWAT to a former 70’s radical now in witness protection.
“Hotel LA” – A routine sting operation turns into a hostage situation as SWAT surveils multiple gangs at a ritzy hotel.
“Stigma” – The SWAT team searches high and low for their former leader, Buck, when it’s clear he’s facing suicidal thoughts.
“Vice” – Tan and his former teammates in Vice are targeted by a former meth dealer they sent to prison for seven years.
“Wild Ones” – SWAT tangles with a team of bounty hunters when a modern-day Bonnie & Clyde arrive in LA searching for stolen chess pieces worth millions.
“Diablo” – It’s a manhunt when a plane carrying the head of a notorious cartel crashes in the suburbs.
The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Picture and audio quality is about as good as you can get from a well made DVD. Dialogue is crisp and clear with high production value put into the visuals.
Disc 5 contains the only bonus features of the set, a collection of deleted scenes and a blooper reel.
Film Value: 6
S.W.A.T. isn’t exactly the type of multi-layered drama that requires multiple viewings to truly comprehend every minute detail and subplot. It’s a show you can easily follow while folding laundry or tending to other household duties. That’s certainly not an insult. S.W.A.T. is perfectly fine entertainment.