'S.W.A.T.' premiere shows remarkable promise
To all those that mourned to loss of Shemar Moore from “Criminal Minds,” you can breathe easy again knowing he’s made his return to CBS as the lead of a new crime drama series, “S.W.A.T.” Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson (Shemar Moore, “Criminal Minds”) is thrust into an somewhat unwanted lieutenant position of a S.W.A.T team in Los Angeles. The city is plagued by political and racial tension, and Hondo uses his experience from the streets as well as his loyalty to the police force to alleviate the restlessness.
The show moves at a perfect pace. The main plot revolves around how social unrest exists in today’s society and highlights many serious issues our country is facing right now, like police brutality and sexism toward women in the work force. The writing carries enough heart without being overly dramatic or cringe-worthy. The lines are delivered with weight in serious moments, but those moments also come with happier, light-hearted ones. The actors, especially Moore, can flip-flop between these two tones with ease. The change up between the two evokes laughter appropriately and also gives you goosebumps when some serious shit is going down.
The plot isn’t the sole factor bringing attention to real life problems. The writers clearly incorporated situations that evoke empathy and show the complexity and uncertainty that these issues carry. For example, the opening scene shows how the old SWAT lieutenant, William Spivey, (Louis Ferreira, “The X-Files) accidentally shot a young, innocent black man on the street. It is clear this was an accident, as the lieutenant immediately saves the boy’s life and brings him to the hospital himself. However, in the recent political climate, this tragic event inspires racist attitudes and launches the episode into the repercussions of moments like these.
This scene isn’t singular. Hondo is constantly fighting a battle between what he values as just and what is expected of him from the police force. His character asks for civility, as he works to protect both the citizens of Los Angeles and his fellow officers. His emphases the importance of respect and communication, on both sides of the problem. His morality makes him a very attractive presence in the show.
“S.W.A.T” goes beyond the typical cop show, normally comprised of firing bullets, explosions and unnecessary tough guy attitudes. It’s meaning goes deeper, showing the oppression and abuse of power parallel to those cops using their badge for it’s intended use. The chief (Patrick St. Esprit, “NCIS: Los Angeles”) promotes Hondo in light of the shooting, replacing Spivey, not because he truly wants Hondo in that position, but because he wants a black man in it to show the public he values “equality.”
To spice things up, there is a romance brewing between Hondo and his boss, Jessica Cortez (Stephanie Sigman, “Annabelle: Creation”). The office relationship makes Hondo’s disobeying of orders even more saucey. However, their relationship seems to be compromised because of their relative hierarchy in the force. They both put their careers as their number one priority, which draws on another social issue — does one sex have to be the one to give up their career? Are we really moving toward a time that both partners in a relationship can work full time?
In addition to all of the social issues this show draws on, it’s entertaining to watch. The intense moments, like one-on-one combat gets your blood pumping. When Moore tackles the bad guy to the ground, you can’t help but feel weirdly proud. There was one explosion, which I think is a pretty good ratio as long as the next episodes don’t overdo it. Because let’s be real, nothing is more annoying when the writers clearly couldn’t come up with something better so they just blow things up.
I have high hopes for the rest of the series, and I’m personally excited to see Moore back in a badass role. He was born to play it, and his casting in a show filled with this much truth gives it real potential to deliver.