1 9 9 2 – 1 9 9 3 (USA)
1 x 90 minute episode
13 x 60 minute episodes
Set in the present (the 1990s) but based on the exploits of an actual Hat Squad that operated in the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1940s, this series from Stephen J Cannell featured three young cops raised from childhood by foster parents.
A “special crimes” unit of the Los Angeles Police Department (though the series was filmed in Vancouver, Canada), the Hat Squad – hot-blooded Rafael (Nestor Serrano), dapper Buddy (Don Michael Paul), and boyish Matt (Billy Warlock) – were an appealing if motley crew who saw themselves as modern-day “Untouhcables”, still lived at home with their foster parents, Mike and Kitty, and and wore old-fashioned fedoras because, well, they looked cool.
Their crusty old police captain foster dad, Mike Ragland (cue-ball-headed James Tolkan), coordinated their pursuit of flamboyantly heinous criminals and sometime shelped them bust drug dealers and psychopathic killers.
Buddy, teh eldest, believed the Fortunata crime family was responsible for his parents’ deaths and swore to prove it and bring them to justice.
Ladies man Rafael (called “Raffi”) was traumatised by the sight of his parents being murdered and refused to use guns. His weapons included razor sharp playing cards and his fedora (!). He even discovered a way to use bungee jumping as a crime-fighting tool.
Matt, the youngest of the three, was taking night classes in pre-law and was obsessed with apprehending criminals who preyed on children.
Mike and Kitty also had a younger, adopted 12-year-old son named Darnell Johnson (Bruce Robbins), who was being groomed as a future Hat Squad member. When a female decoy was needed, the Hats used the station’s CPR doll (“Officer Jill”) because they feared using a real woman was too dangerous.
A typical Cannell offering, there was gunplay, shattered plate glass, crackling guy banter and late model cars fishtailing through the streets of LA. He did not belabour the series with any hidden meaning or redeeming social merit or a political agenda.
There were no grey areas between good and bad in Cannellworld, where the criminals were “dirtbags” or “dust bunnies”.
The short-lived CBS series was critically mauled, with one reviewer branding it “the most insultingly dumb, pointlessly violent TV cop show in a decade”.
Don Michael Paul