Counterculture Cops

This weekend, over-the-air network Decades will host a 43-episode binge of The Mod Squad (1968-1973), the counterculture-inspired police drama starring three former juvenile delinquents who work as undercover cops.

The series, starring Michael Cole, Clarence Williams III and Peggy Lipton as the cops in question, ran for 123 episodes over five seasons on ABC.

The Mod Squad on Decades
(Above source: Decades)

The marathon kicks off Saturday, January 30, at noon ET, with “Bad Man on Campus,” about a high school-based car-theft ring, and concludes Monday, February 1, at 6 am with “The Exile,” in which Julie (Lipton) falls in love with an exchange student, unaware he is a prince endangered by a military coup in his home country.

Harve Bennett, a writer and producer for several Star Trek films (including Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock, The Voyage Home and The Final Frontier), developed Mod Squad and wrote several episodes. A season two episode, “In This Corner – Sol Alpert,” co-written with Rita Lakin, was nominated by The Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar Allan Poe Award in the category of Best Mystery Teleplay. In it, Sol Alpert (Alice’s Marvin Kaplan), a friend of the young cops, finds his business vandalized in protest over the living conditions of ghetto housing owned by his cousin. Alpert and the Mod Squad decide to pressure his cousin into improving conditions by taking the matter to a Jewish court.

“In This Corner – Sol Alpert” airs Monday, February 1, at 12 am.

The character of Alpert first appeared in a season one episode, “Flight Five Doesn’t Answer,” in which he, the cops and Captain Adam Greer (Tige Andrews) survive a plane crash (Greer is also in the “Sol Alpert” episode). You can watch ‘Flight Five’ on Sunday, January 31, at 1 am.

Decades is available free by hooking up an antenna to your TV set, as well as from many cable companies. For the channel number in your area, visit the Decades “Where to Watch” page.

The Mod Squad is currently unavailable to stream and doesn’t have a regular slot on any over-the-air network.

The show was remade as a 1999 theatrical release starring Claire Danes, Omar Epps and Giovanni Ribisi. You can watch that film for free, with ads, on Pluto TV and Tubi; or uninterrupted with an Amazon Prime subscription. You can also rent it for $3.99 from Google Play, YouTube or other providers.

(Top image source: YouTube video)

About Larry Greenberg

A former local beat reporter and film critic, co-founder Lawrence Greenberg has more than 25 years’ experience as a writer and public relations executive.

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